Writer, Professor, NonProfiteer



My focus in the beginning was on fundamental microbiology research. I did some significant publishing, thanks to my students. You can Google that. In 2021, a study from Stanford University listed me in the top 2% of  researchers having career-long  impacts. Then I became an associate dean, then the campus dean of Miami University Middletown, an open-admissions satellite campus of Miami U.  I spent 2015 as Interim Director of Cincinnati State Technical and Community College in Middletown, Ohio.

My Miami webpage

I lucked into my first publishing contract in 1999, and have kept writing since then. I'm driven by my own students and how I can always be doing a better job with them.  Creating a better mouse-trap, er, textbook is one way I do that.  

Link to books

The beautiful thing about being the head of a community campus is that the community will conquer you!   I fell in love with Middletown, Ohio and started a non-profit - the Community Building Institute - to decrease the gaps between the haves and the have-nots.   We are a rust-belt community so we had a lot more of the latter than the former. We are now pouring ~$1 million annually into our families.  In turn I took what I learned there to study the effects of poverty in the classroom.

Link to Community Building Institute


The academic achievement gap that accompanies income equality is growing faster than even the income gap itself. Twenty percent of Americans control 80% of the wealth;  this has devastating effects in the college classroom, and in society in general.  I work to raise awareness and share the research with my fellow professors around the country. Click on "blog" in the menu to see my findings.

Open Book
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is passionate, sometimes obsessive, about our town. We exist to be a primary force for creating and sustaining community revitalization; changing Middletown one family, one student, one neighborhood at a time.  We provide a Parent Resource Center, playgroups, after-school programs for at-risk kids, summer camp, a Future Center at the high school, and a variety of activities at the Robert "Sonny" Hill Community Center.



Teaching is an art as well as a science.  In the past, teachers relied on tradition and expedience for their methodology.  We now have scientifically validated methods to lead students to deep learning.  I can walk you through validated techniques such as Just-in-Time Teaching and Peer Instruction.  I can also help you begin to close the achievement gap between under-resourced and fully-resourced students.

McGraw-Hill publishes my two major textbooks, Microbiology, A Systems Approach (5th edition), and Fundamentals of Microbiology, A Clinical Approach (2d edition).

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Mother Teresa


I've been a faculty member at Miami University since 1993. While I spent the first half of my career as a bench scientist, I increasingly turned to pedagogical research, publishing in the Journal of College Science Teaching, the Journal on Excellence in College Teaching and The Teaching Professor. I had the privilege of chairing the Undergraduate Education Committee of the American Society for Microbiology and am past chair of ASM's Division W. From 2003 to 2009 I was an administrator for Miami University's regional campus in Middletown, Ohio, first as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, and then as Campus Dean.  I also served as Acting Director of Cincinnati State Technical and Community College (Middletown) in 2015-2016.

While I was Campus Dean, the city of Middletown captured my imagination and in 2009 I created the Community-Building Institute (CBI), an independently funded organization that helps create strong neighborhoods and supports under-resourced citizens from pre-school to career. CBI's dedicated staff nurtures hope in people every day, currently spending over $1 million/year serving Middletown’s needs.

I was educated at the University of Louisville, and held postdoctoral positions at the Center of Marine Biotechnology in Baltimore, and at Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, in the Netherlands. I have three children: Sam, a professional musician and all-around creative savant; Taylor, a tea entrepreneur, and Suzanne, a psychologist, stand-up comic, and great mom.  I like to claim her husband Aaron as mine as well.



Presentations and workshops by Kelly Cowan:

- Scientific Teaching Methods, appropriate for high-school and college instructors of all disciplines

- Bridging the Achievement Gap in Your Classroom, appropriate for high-school and college instructors of all disciplines

- Poverty and Literacy, appropriate for schools, colleges, and almost any other type of group; tailored to the audience

These presentations are generally free to the inviting organization (including travel).  To whom much has been given....


©2017 by Kelly Murphy Cowan, Ph.D.. Proudly created with Wix.com