Health Sciences

Emily M. Besecker

Associate Professor

Health Sciences



Campus Box 0432


Science Center
Room 148 E
300 North Washington St.
Gettysburg, PA 17325-1400


BS Shippensburg University
PhD Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine

Research & Teaching
Dr. Besecker is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Sciences at Gettysburg College. She serves as Faculty Advisor for the Pre-Health Professions Club in which health professionals are invited to campus to give presentations to students interested in pursuing advanced medical-related degrees.

As a classically-trained anatomist, her research interests involve studying the structure and function of the upper-gastrointestinal (GI) tract in various research models. Her current research models include a spinal cord injured population and several exercise groups at varying intensities and duration to explore the plasticity of upper-GI modulation. The spinal cord injured population is well-known for motor paralysis and even the sensory loss has become a little more well-known to the general population.  Yet, many people are still unaware of the visceral dysfunction which occurs following a spinal cord injury; these dysfunctions lead to a severely compromised way of life for the injured, as well as high rates of morbidity and mortality.  Her current work is focused around the rehabilitative effects of exercise on visceral function to better understand upper-gastrointestinal functioning and recovery.

Teaching at a small, liberal arts school her responsibilities include: pedagogical advancement of undergraduate science instruction, course and career advising, service to the college and community, grant writing, and scholarship which includes the training of undergraduate research scientists.

Career Path
Dr. Besecker has always been passionate about teaching. In her undergraduate training, she served as a Biology tutor alongside her coursework while conducting undergraduate research. That first taste of the balancing act between academia and research was both challenging and rewarding. At Penn State Hershey (College of Medicine), she further accelerated her dual passions by serving as a Teaching Assistant in Human Gross Anatomy, Embryology, and Neuroanatomy working with both graduate and medical students in conjunction with research in the Neurotrauma laboratory of Dr. Gregory M. Holmes.  As an Assistant Professor at Gettysburg College, Dr. Besecker has been given the opportunity to pursue a fulfilling career as an undergraduate Health Sciences educator while also being supported as a research scientist.

View Publications and Courses Taught