Catherine Safran Profile Image

Catherine Safran, PhD

  • Assistant Teaching Professor
Media Expertise:
  • International Relations
  • Education
  • Science & Environment
  • Health Sciences

Affiliated Programs


  • PhD, Developmental Biology (1994)
    University of Strasbourg (France)

About Me

I use my passion for life sciences and longstanding experience with muscular-skeletal research to introduce students to important concepts in field as various as evolution, plant & animal physiology, and environmental sciences.

My instructional strengths include emphasis on student engagement in the classroom, continuous evaluation of student learning progress, and special attention to student equity and well-being.

Research Interests

My educational research focuses on the roles of peer-mentoring and undergraduate assistants in the teaching and learning of scientific concepts.

In collaboration with Dr. Liyun Wang (University of Delaware, Mechanical Engineering), I also study skeletal growth and repair and the function of the pericellular matrix in the bone response to load.

Media Expertise

  • Preclinical models of bone & joint diseases 
  • Developmental biology of mineralized tissues
  • Cytomechanics and cell signaling 
  • Scientific teaching for pre-health professions


  • Osteocytic Pericellular Matrix (PCM): Accelerated Degradation Under In Vivo Loading and Unloading Conditions Using a Novel Imaging Approach. Pei S., Wang S., Martinez J.R., Parajuli A., Kirn-Safran C.B., Farach-Carson M.C., Lu XL, Wang L. Genes 2022, 13(1), 72; Open Access

  • Physiology Labs During a Pandemic: What Did We Learn? Advances in Physiology Education. Chen X., Kirn-Safran C.B., van der Meulen T., Myhr K.L., Savitzky A.H., Fleegal-DeMotta M.A. Open Access 2021, 45: 803-809 (PMID: 34581619). 10.1152/advan.00022.2021

  • Peer-Mentors Prove to Be Strong Assets in Virtual Anatomy and Physiology Labs. Kirn-Safran C.B., Reed A.C., and Chatman M M. January 2021, Imprint, National Student Nurses’ Association Magazine.

  • Perlecan/Hspg2 Deficiency Impairs Bone’s Calcium Signaling and Associated Transcriptome in Response to Mechanical Loading. Pei S, Parthasarathy S, Parajuli A, Martinez J, Lv M, Jiang S, Wu D, Wei S, Lu XL, Farach-Carson MC, Kirn-Safran CB, Wang L. Bone. 2020, 131:115078.

  • Inhibition of T-Type Voltage Sensitive Calcium Channel Impairs Osteoblast Response to Mechanical Stress and Prevents Load-induced OA in Mice. Srinivasan P.P., Parajuli A., Price C., Wang L., Duncan R.L., Kirn-Safran C.B. PLoS One. 2015 26;10:e012729

Professional Affiliations & Memberships

· Human Anatomy and Physiology Society (HAPS)

· National Institute on Scientific Teaching (NIST)

· Learning Assistant Alliance


  • Faculty Development Grant – Pedagogical Travel Grant (2022-2023)

  • Recipient of the Human Anatomy & Physiology Society Conference Travel Award – Invited Workshop Speaker: “The Presence of a Peer-Learning Assistant in the Classroom: An Opportunity to Build an Inclusive A&P Learning Community”, 36th Annual Conference, Fort Lauderdale, FL (May 24-29, 2022)

  • Recipient of the Widener University, Arts & Sciences Teaching Excellence Award, Spring 2022

  • Improvement of Teaching Grant: “Enhance the Learning Experience of First-Year Students through Peer-Mentoring” (2020-2021)

  •  Fellow of the Northeast Summer Institute on Scientific Teaching, University of Connecticut (2017)



  • Biology Faculty Presents Poster at Human Anatomy and Physiology Conference, Receives Award

    Assistant Teaching Professor of Biology Catherine Safran, with the help of nursing student Taylor Wise ’25, presented a poster at the 2023 Annual Conference of the Human Anatomy and Physiology Society (HAPS) in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

    The poster, titled “The Implementation of Structured Office Hours as a Central Component of Student Success in A&P courses,” is based on Wise’s experience in anatomy and physiology (A&P) courses and using resources such as faculty office hours and peers to improve her academic performance. The observations concluded that students who utilize office hours will have improved performance in A&P classes and can act as group leaders to help their peers succeed as well. 

    In addition to presenting, Safran was awarded the HAPS John Martin Second Timers Award, which recognizes HAPS members for repeated attendance and commitment to the organization’s annual conferences. 

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  • Faculty Presents Workshop on Peer Learning at Annual Conference

    Assistant Teaching Professor Catherine Safran was invited to present a workshop at the Human Anatomy & Physiology Society’s Annual Conference in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Safran presented her experience working with Peer-Learning Assistants at Widener in anatomy and physiology lectures and labs.

    This annual conference is attended by anatomy and physiology instructors from around the world.

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  • Catherine Safran, assistant teaching professor of biology, and her collaborators have had their article, "Osteocytic Pericellular Matrix (PCM): Accelerated Degradation under In Vivo Loading and Unloading Conditions Using a Novel Imaging Approach," published in Genes, a peer-reviewed journal covering genetics and genomics. 

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  • Catherine Safran, assistant professor of biology, co-authored an article in the journal Advances in Physiology Education that highlights the challenges and the successes of teaching physiology labs online during the COVID-19 pandemic. The article, Physiology labs during a pandemic: What did we learn?, proved that online networks fostered safe spaces for trust and provide support for instructors. Additionally, it showed how much of a drastic change it was for both students and faculty to adjust to learning online instead of in-person, especially for those who have to either teach or learn in a laboratory setting.

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  • Catherine Kim-Safran, assistant professor of biology, and undergraduate nursing students Makayla Chatman and Alexandria Reid co-authored an article that ran in the January 2021 issue of Imprint, the official membership magazine of the National Student Nurses’ Association. Reflecting on their experiences leading and serving as peer-learning assistants for anatomy and physiology labs that transferred fully online during the COVID-19 pandemic, the authors reported on the impact of peer mentoring on student success and best online teaching practices.

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