Tyler Junior College

Biology

Faculty Bios

Larry PilgrimLarry Pilgrim has been an instructor at Tyler Junior College for over 36 years. He received his Master's in Agriculture Science in 1974 from East Texas State University and has 25 undergraduate hours in Biology as well as 18 graduate hours in Biology with an emphasis in cell biology and ecology. Since graduating he has accrued a total of 58 post masters hours of graduate study from Texas A&M University in Commerce, University of Texas at Tyler and Portland State University. Together Mr. Pilgrim and his wife Judith Pilgrim wrote the Science Majors Biology laboratory manual used by a number of schools, including Tyler Junior College.

Over the years Mr. Pilgrim has taught a wide variety of courses in both Agriculture and Biology. More recently he centers his attention on the Biology for Science Majors I & II courses (BIOL 1406 & BIOL 1407). Starting in the fall semester of 2013, Mr. Pilgrim's Biology for Science Majors courses will be offered through TJC's Honors Program. 

In 2013, Mr. Pilgrim was the recipient of the TriO program's Teamwork award, an award voted on by students. 

Outside of teaching, Mr. Pilgrim's interests include wildlife and ecosystem conservation, hiking, classical music, history and training and showing paint horses.

Jane BrachJane Brach began teaching at Tyler Junior College in 1988 as a part-time laboratory instructor, and became a full-time lecture instructor in 1993. Mrs. Brach earned her Bachelor of Science degree cum laude from the State University of New York at Albany. As an undergraduate, she became a member of Beta Beta Beta, the National Biological Honors Society. She attended the University of Miami at Coral Gables, Florida on a teaching assistantship stipend, where she earned her Master of Sciences degree. After moving to Texas, Mrs. Brach continued her studies by taking various post-graduate courses at Stephen F. Austin State University, the University of Texas at Tyler, and the University of Texas at Tyler Health Center.

Throughout her career at Tyler Junior College, Mrs. Brach has taught General Zoology, Biology for Non-Science Majors I & II, and currently teaches Introduction to Anatomy and Physiology (BIOL 2404). She received the Mabel Williams Chair for Teaching Excellence Award and was selected as an Honorary Member of Phi Theta Kappa.  Mrs. Brach is a member of the National Association of Biology Teachers and of the Texas Community College Teachers Association.

Mrs. Brach's philosophy mirrors that of Louis Pasteur, who said "Chance favors the prepared mind." She believes that as opportunities present themselves, students who are given adequate preparation will always find a way to excel.

Betsy OttDr. Margaret "Betsy" Ott has taught various Biology courses for Tyler Junior College since she moved to Tyler in 1982. While she primarily teaches Human Anatomy and Physiology I & II (BIOL 2401 & BIOL 2402), Dr. Ott occasionally teaches Biology for Non-Science Majors I & II (BIOL 1408 & BIOL 1409). In the Fall of 2001 Dr. Ott began teaching the internet sections for Human Anatomy and Physiology I & II. She continuously updates her skills and awareness of the internet-based teaching arena, so that her online classes exemplify the best practices of distance education.

In 2004, Dr. Ott was elected President of the National Association of Biology Teachers.

Dr. Ott's teaching philosophy is to "make sure you get your money's worth!" She believes that the scope of Anatomy and Physiology, coupled with the critical nature of working in the Health Sciences, requires that students strive to meet a very high level of mastery in this subject. She does her best to help each student reach that high level.

Outside of teaching, Dr. Ott's interests include keeping up with environmental issues (biodiversity, conservation), mechanisms of evolution, and science education. She earned her doctoral degree in Forestry from Stephen F. Austin State University with a research area of biodiversity in plantation understory.

Dr. J. Gordon Betts, a native East Texan, received his bachelor’s degree from Stephen F. Austin State University in 1981. Midway through his undergraduate studies, he served four years in the U.S. Navy earning the rank of Aviation Electrician’s Mate Second Class.

He continued his studies at Texas A&M University receiving his Master’s degree in 1983 and Ph.D. in 1987 in Physiology of Reproduction. His doctoral dissertation was titled “Fenprostalene-Induced Luteal Regression” and was directed by Dr. David Forrest.

Dr. Betts spent the next two years as a post-doctoral research associate in the laboratory of Dr. L. Stephen Frawley at the Medical University of South Carolina. The thrust of the research was growth physiology.

He continued his post-doctoral research training for an additional two years in the laboratory of Dr. Peter J. Hansen at the University of Florida. Dr. Hansen’s laboratory concentration was in the area of reproductive immunology.

Dr. Betts accepted a position at Texas A&M – Commerce in 1991 as an Assistant Professor. Over the next six years, he taught eight different courses including Anatomy and Physiology, Immunology, Biochemistry, Endocrinology and Reproductive Physiology.

Following a few years in private industry, Dr. Betts joined the faculty at Tyler Junior College. In addition to Anatomy and Physiology, he has also taught Non-majors Biology, Introduction to Anatomy and Physiology and Introduction to Biotechnology. This last course was developed after a successful grant application submitted with other TJC faculty.

Dale CatesDale Cates, a John Tyler graduate, earned his Bachelor of Arts in Biology and his lifetime all-level Science Teacher Certification in 1976 from the University of Texas at Austin. In 1983 he earned his Masters of Science from the University of Texas at Tyler and completed 72 post-graduate hours at Texas A&M Commerce.

Mr. Cates has taught many different subjects in a variety of settings. He served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Liberia, West Africa from 1977—1979 where he taught math, science, and English. While in Liberia, he also served as a Community Development Specialist. He taught biology, physics, and chemistry at Gorman High School from 1980—1983 and at Whitehouse High School from 1983—1988. During this time he also taught biology as an adjunct instructor at Tyler Junior College. From 1988—2012, he was an instructor at Trinity Valley Community College where he taught Anatomy and Physiology I and II, Nutrition, and an on-line course in Introduction to Anatomy and Physiology. In 2012 Mr. Cates began teaching full-time at Tyler Junior College.

Mr. Cates has received several awards. In 2000 while serving as a Phi Theta Kappa Iota advisor, he was given the Robe Giles Distinguished Advisor International Award, the Paragon International Award, the Regional Horizon Award, and was inducted into the Texas Hall of Honor for Advisors. Outside of work he has volunteered with both the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts. During his 24 years of volunteering with the Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas, he has received the 2013 Trailblazer award, the 2008 Appreciation Pin, and was a 2004 Outstanding Volunteer. He was a two-time Boy Scout trail leader at Philmont.