Teaching philosophy

I practice student-centered teaching using a variety of evidence-based approaches to actively engage students in the classroom. Science education literature demonstrates that active engagement is vital for student learning, and I genuinely enjoy acting as facilitator and guide of students’ learning in the classroom. By moving beyond a sole focus on lecturing, active learning techniques give students the opportunity to actually practice scientific thinking. Ultimately, my goal in teaching is for all students to learn skills and knowledge that will help them as they continue to grow in their personal and professional lives. This goal is the same for every student, regardless of their major. By using a variety of evidence-based teaching methods, I hope to cultivate scientifically-minded students and encourage them to interact with the material in a meaningful way.

Furthermore, it is vital to increase the gender, racial, ethnic, socio-economic, and ability diversity of undergraduate science majors, so we have the broadest possible pool of scientific minds to solve future problems. Beyond the benefit to scientific progress, it is a moral imperative to remove systemic barriers and make science accessible to individuals who were historically excluded from participation in science. I care deeply about supporting all underrepresented groups in pursuing careers in science, and work to make my classroom an inclusive environment. I aim to create a space to allow students to bring their full, authentic selves and unique perspectives to share with their peers. I strive to provide a supportive and inclusive learning environment in the classroom through the use of a variety of evidence-based methods of teaching, which serves to level the playing field for marginalized students. 

Here are just a few references regarding the science of learning science:

Theobald E.J. et al. (2020) Active learning narrows achievement gaps for underrepresented students in undergraduate science, technology, engineering, and math. PNAS.

Styers M.L. et al. (2018) Active Learning in Flipped Life Science Courses Promotes Development of Critical Thinking Skills. CBE - Life Science Education.

Freeman S. et al. (2014) Active learning increases student performance in science, engineering, and mathematics. PNAS.

Michael J.  (2006) Where’s the evidence that active learning works? Advances in Physiology Education.

Courses at Lake Forest College

BIOL 221: Molecules, Genes, & Cells

This course will examine cells as the fundamental units of life. Topics will include the structure and function of the cell and its molecular constituents; energy relationships at the cellular level; and an introduction to the nature and organization of the genetic material. Laboratory sessions will emphasize student-designed projects. Classroom sessions will involve group work, discussions, seminars, problem-solving sessions, and lectures. Three lecture and four laboratory hours per week. Prerequisite: BIOL 120. Corequisite: CHEM 116.

BIOL 342: Developmental Biology

Analysis of the genetic, molecular, cellular, and structural changes that occur between fertilization and the development of the adult form. This course examines many concepts including establishment of cell fates, stem cells, morphogenesis, and sex determination. Students also analyze key experiments and methods through primary literature that have provided an understanding of development. The laboratory demonstrates important developmental principles, allowing students to engage in projects of their own design to examine environmental and genetic contributions to development through the use of invertebrate organisms. Three discussion and four laboratory hours per week. Prerequisites: BIOL 221, and either BIOL 220 or Junior status. Students must also register for a lab. 

Cross listed: NEUR 342, BMB 342

BMB 322: Molecular Biology

Molecular biology is the theory that biological phenomena have molecular explanations. Communicating molecular biology results is critical for health professionals and researchers who will need to interpret and communicate the results of molecular tests and discover molecular mechanisms. This course focuses on student abilities to communicate results to answer five biological questions: "what is the evidence DNA is the genetic material?", "How does genetic information become a trait?", "How are DNA, RNA, and protein measured?", "How are genes regulated?", and "How is the genome maintained?" In lab, students will conduct a course-based undergraduate research experience to study the effect of an anti-cancer drug on the DNA of colorectal cancer cells. The lab report connects the lecture and lab as the final. Three lecture and four laboratory hours per week. Prerequisites: Chem 116 and Biol 221.

Cross listed: BIOL 322, NEUR 322

BIOL 477 Senior Seminar: Cellular & Molecular Mechanisms of Neurological Disease

This course examines our current understanding of the molecular and cellular mechanisms that underlie neurodevelopmental disorders (i.e. autism), psychiatric disorders (i.e. depression, schizophrenia), and neurodegenerative disease (Alzheimer's, Parkinson's). Special emphasis is placed on a comparative analysis of model organism and human clinical research. Precise topics depend on student interests. Classes involve discussions of primary literature, student presentations, and short lectures. Prerequisites: Open to senior Biology, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and Neuroscience majors who have completed at least one 300-level course in the major or by permission of the instructor. 

Cross listed: BMB 477, NEUR 477

BIOL 147: Bio Inq: Viruses and Evolution

This course will introduce students to the relationship between viruses and their hosts, from bacteria to humans. It will cover the molecular, cellular, and organismal events that occur when a virus infects a host. The course will focus on the ways viruses evolve to adapt to different selective pressures, and how viruses can induce evolutionary change, in addition to disease, in their hosts. The course will also discuss the societal implications of this fascinating biology, including public health policy, vaccines, and virus-based therapies. Specific topics will be driven by student interest. This course includes lectures, discussions, reading primary research articles, writing, and student presentations. No prerequisites. Corequisite: BIOL 120 or permission of the instructor. (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the Natural Sciences and Speaking requirements.)