July 03, 2023

Honoring the memory of Robin Lester, Ph.D.

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robin lesterThe Department of Medical Education mourns the recent passing of Robin Lester, Ph.D., Course Director for the Neuroscience Module. Dr. Lester was a pillar of innovative education within the Heersink School of Medicine, and his loss will be felt throughout our department. He is survived by his children, Kathryn and James; their mother, Mary Seelig; and his significant other, Karina Vazquez.

Dr. Lester’s life was emphasized by his commitment to education, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in 1984 and doctoral degree in pharmacology in 1988 from the University of Bristol, United Kingdom. He also completed postdoctoral training at Oregon Health & Science University’s Vollum Institute. He not only sought education for himself but was devoted to extending that knowledge to those around him. Since 1995, he has educated students at UAB, beginning as an Assistant Professor before spending the remainder of his 28 years as a Full Professor with Tenure. He taught courses in UAB’s Undergraduate, Medical, and Graduate School programs.

Throughout his career, Dr. Lester earned numerous recognitions for his role as an educator. He received multiple Argus Awards for the best course, best lecturer, and best organ module in neurosciences. He earned a 2010 President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching for the Department of Joint Health Sciences. He was named a 2021 Dean’s Excellence Award winner in Teaching. He also earned the UAB National Alumni Society/Ellen Gregg Ingalls Lifetime Achievement Award in Teaching.

His celebrated career impacted many lives throughout our department. “Dr. Lester led the second-year Medical Neuroscience course for 15 years and was a true pillar in the Heersink School of Medicine preclinical curriculum,” says William Brooks, M.D., Assistant Dean for Preclinical Education. “He was a dedicated and caring educator who not only influenced countless medical students over the years, but was also a leader among medical educators. I had the pleasure to teach neuroanatomy alongside Robin for a decade. His enthusiasm for neuroscience and love of teaching was infectious. He taught me as much as he taught our students.”

Dr. Lester’s teaching methods and course designs were described by Craig M. Powell, M.D., Ph.D., chair of the Department of Neurobiology, as “unparalleled.” He employed a creative, multi-media approach to education, garnering student interest in the research subject that captivated him the most: the human brain. His diverse approach to teaching led to engaged students and impactful education.

“Losing Dr. Lester leaves a significant vacancy within the Medical Education department and wider UAB family,” says Craig Hoesley, M.D., Senior Associate Dean for Medical Education. “His unwavering commitment to our students’ well-being and his ability to effectively impart knowledge will be missed. Most of all, however, we will miss our colleague and friend.”

The influence of Dr. Lester’s legacy can be seen at every level of his career, as he influenced his students and colleagues alike. The Department of Medical Education extends its support and condolences to Dr. Lester’s family and friends during this difficult time. We mourn his passing but celebrate the positive lasting impact he leaves behind.