In Memory of Steven Hecht

Before joining Grand Valley, Steven Hecht received his B.S. from Emporia State University in Kansas that he said was very much like GVSU in its focus on liberal education. From there, Steve worked for several years—including a couple of years doing development work in Thailand—before he went on to receive his Ph.D. in Microbiology and Molecular Biology from Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, MA. After completing his Ph.D., he did postdoctoral work at Colorado State University, College of Veterinary Medicine and then taught at Northeast Louisiana University in Monroe, LA before finally joining Grand Valley in 1999.

During Steve’s time at Grand Valley, he enjoyed teaching 15 different courses—though he admitted to favoring the hands-on-nature of the microbiology laboratory (BMS 213). His research focus at the university was investigating viruses of bacteria (bacteriophage). In particular, Steve and his undergraduate students were working in collaboration with Prof. Tony Nieuwkoop, also in Biomedical Sciences, to see if they could develop phage therapy for bees. Today’s bees facing a great deal of pressure from bacterial disease, Steve hoped to find viruses to target bacteria and benefit bees that could help these pollinators that humans rely so heavily upon for our agriculture.

Outside of teaching and research, Steve Hecht was also involved in a number of other ways across Grand Valley. He was the faculty advisor for a student group (Universities Allied for Essential Medicine) whose main concern is providing affordable medicines to the world. Steve was a member on personnel committee that helps in determining faculty promotion and tenure. Steve also devoted much of his time to effectively advising and mentoring students. Some of Steve’s best advice to students was “get engaged in your classes. Even the painful ones. It is a choice that can change your life. Especially courses outside your major, as they can help you with your whole life approach. I still remember lessons I learned in my college poetry and literature classes, as well as developmental psychology.”

When Steve was not at the university investigating virology topics and teaching microbiology, he was keeping up with the latest technology and console games. Steve was an active communicator of science as well in social media with over 1,700 followers on Twitter.  Steve enjoyed hiking and birding in his free time.

The Biomedical Sciences Department chair, Daniel Bergman said of Steve Hecht, “he was the consummate teacher, always working to improve his craft.  Steve was just an overall outstanding teacher that students respected immensely.  He truly cared about his students and their success.  Faculty and staff also had the utmost respect for Steve and personally whenever I needed advice or guidance I would go directly to Steve.  He was a voice of wisdom for me and the Biomedical Sciences Department.  He will be profoundly missed by all.”

Prof. Aaron Baxter in BMS said, “Steve was always available to anyone that needed him and was truly a great friend.” A thought echoed by many in the BMS Department.

For students looking for support, the University Counseling Center is available. Visit or call (616) 331-3266. For faculty and staff members, support services are available through Encompass. 

Department of Biomedical Sciences

The Biomedical Sciences major consists of courses prescribed by professional schools (medical, dental, osteopathic, veterinary, pharmacy, graduate) as essential to the successful completion of a professional school curriculum, plus electives necessary to provide educational breadth and maturity. In short, the Biomedical Sciences major is designed to help students gain a comprehensive understanding of human life sciences and is a gateway to many exciting and meaningful career paths.

The four general areas of emphasis in the Biomedical Sciences curriculum are MicrobiologyAnatomyPhysiology, and Nutrition. Faculty in the Biomedical Science Department are involved in a wide variety of research projects, providing numerous opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students to gain real laboratory experience. Areas of research include bacterial genetics, cancer biology, cardiovascular disease, epidemiology, human anatomy, immunology, neuroscience, obesity, parasitology, physiological biochemistry, stem cell biology, and toxicology to name a few.

The Biomedical Sciences Department is part of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.


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Page last modified September 18, 2017