Patricia Matthews

Patricia Matthews
Assistant Professor

Human Genetics; Biomedical Ethics; General Biology

Office: 205 Henry
Phone: (616) 331-3387



Michigan State University, College of Education, East Lansing, MI. Higher, Adult, and Lifelong Learning. Dissertation: Firefighters' Perceptions of Their Health Risks During Residential Salvage and Overhaul Activities. PhD, (ABD)

Grand Valley State University. Thesis: Human Parasites and Antibiotics: Ancillary Media Presentation for Introductory Biology. M.Ed. (Emphasis in Secondary and Adult Instructions and concentration in Biology)

Grand Valley State University. B.S. (High Honors)


Courses taught at GVSU:

BIO 104 Biology for the 21st Century
BIO 105 Environmental Science
BIO 120 General Biology
BIO 121 General Biology II
BIO 328 Biomedical Ethics
BIO 355 Human Genetics
BIO 376 Genetics Laboratory
BIO 525 Teaching Reproductive Health
FS 100 Freshman Seminar
HNR 242 Honors Science

Research Interests:

I have been involved in a number of very diverse areas of research, ranging from the contamination of rivers with effluent from waste water plants to decisions about adult education opportunities by freshmen, university learning community members, and introductory science students.  My current research is investigating the behaviors of firefighters after a residential fire has been extinguished and how the decisions about their behaviors may affect their future health status. 

According to National Fire Protection Association standards, SCBA (self-contained breathing apparatus) is required as personal protective equipment during overhaul activities unless the safety of the post-fire atmosphere has been established by testing and is maintained by effective ventilation.  A problem arises, however, since the testing equipment currently used by most fire departments only measure the level of a small number of gases, including carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide, oxygen, and lower explosive limits.  Since numerous laboratory studies have shown that more than a hundred  chemicals, including hydrogen cyanide, can be given off during a residential fire, and only a few of these are actually precisely measured by the currently used equipment, the question arises regarding how to determine when a post-fire environment is safe so that SCBA may be removed. 

From personal observations over nearly thirty years, I have seen firefighters remove their SCBAs when the safety of the environment at a post-residential fire scene has not been properly determined and toxic chemicals are probably still present in the environment.  Since numerous studies have shown that exposures to these chemicals can cause a variety of cancers and respiratory problems, I am investigating when and why firefighters remove their SCBAs during overhaul activities.  Once these behavioral perceptions have been determined, and have been correlated with personal observations of firefighters’ overhaul activities, I will develop an educational model regarding when SCBA use should be continued during post-residential fire activities.  The goal of this model’s development is to improve the future health status of firefighters who work at residential fire scenes.


Anne Monroe and Billy Molasso with assistance by C. Alsup, J. Armstrong, B. Barnes, E. Friedman, W. Hark, E. Rogers-Johnson, D. Kittle, P. Matthews, P. Osborn, C. Palmer, C. Tingson, V. Tyson, and J. Verberkmoes.  Fall 2002.  Hannah College: A Residential College for the Humanities.  Submitted to the Provost at Michigan State University.

Matthews, Patricia.  1998.  Instructor’s Manual with Test Bank to accompany Human Biology:  Personal, Environmental, and Social Concerns by Goodenough, Wallace and McGuire.  Saunders College Publishing, Fort Worth, Texas.

Howard J. Stein, with contributions from Carl Bajema, Paul A. Huizenga, Patricia Matthews.  1989, numerous revisions.  Biology 103, The Biology of People:  Laboratory Manual, Department of Biology, Grand Valley State University, Allendale, Michigan.

Nancy N. Shontz, John P. Shontz, Norman C. Leeling, Paul A. Huizenga, Patricia A. Matthews.  1989, numerous revisions.  Biology 111, General Biology I:  Laboratory Manual, Department of Biology, Grand Valley State University, Allendale, Michigan.   

Matthews, Patricia.  1974.  Water Chemistry Relevant to the Toxicity Studies.  Proceedings of Wyoming Workshop on Disinfection of Wastewater and Its Effect on Aquatic Life.  United States Environmental Protection Agency, Natural Environmental Research Center, Grand Valley State Colleges, and City of Wyoming.

Scientific & Professional Societies:

Kappa Delta Pi – International Honor Society in Education
Sigma Xi – The Scientific Research Society


Licenses and Certifications:

Michigan Fire Fighters' Training Council
   Fire Fighter I and II certification
   Hazardous Materials Operations Level
   Fire Department Company Officer Preparation
   Fire and Arson Investigation
   Unified Incident Command
Paramedic (Advanced Emergency Medical Technician), State of Michigan, Department of Public Health    
Basic Trauma Life Support
Advanced Cardiac Life Support, American Heart Association

Page last modified August 6, 2010