I work collaboratively with Jean Schmidt and Natasha Baker to oversee the Foundations of Biology Laboratory courses. My roles include curriculum development, course assessment, instructor training, and teaching. My goal is to develop lab courses that actively engage a diverse group of students in the process of scientific inquiry, preparing students for careers in science and to evaluate scientific information in their everyday lives. I am working towards this goal by implementing inquiry-based and research-based lab courses and developing course assessments that measure the effectiveness of curricular changes.
Foundations of Biology Laboratory 1 (BIOSC 0050) is an inquiry-based course that allows students to practice thinking and working like a scientist. In these courses, students ask questions, design and carry out experiments, interpret results, communicate findings, and work collaboratively with peers, all while exploring topics such as protist behavior, enzyme function, and photosynthesis.
The Small World Initiative (Foundations of Biology 2 Research Lab, BIOSC 0067) is an exciting new research-based course in which students conduct a semester-long research project searching for microbes in the soil that produce antibiotics against human pathogens. The Small World Initiative (http://www.smallworldinitiative.org) was developed by Dr. Jo Handelsman’s group at the Yale Center for Scientific Teaching.
Pathways Over Time (Foundations of Biology 2 Research Lab, BIOSC 0067) is one of our newest research-based lab courses in which students explore the evolutionary conservation of metabolic pathways. We are currently studying the conservation of genes involved in cysteine and methionine biosynthesis in Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Schizosaccharomyces pombe, two yeast species that are thought to have diverged from a common ancestor ~1 billion years ago. Pathways Over Time was developed by Dr. Clare O'Connor at Boston College (http://capricorn.bc.edu/bi204/2013/07/09/home/).
My research background is in molecular biology and genetics. As a graduate student researcher in Dr. Karen Arndt’s lab, I studied how a conserved protein complex controlled gene expression by modulating histone modifications and chromatin structure. Now I draw on my research experience to develop research experiences in our Foundations of Biology Lab courses that accurately demonstrate the nature of science and allow students to experience the excitement of scientific inquiry. I also take a scientific approach to my teaching. Therefore, I hope to continue to develop as a researcher by using course assessments to guide curriculum development. I am particularly interested in exploring features of inquiry-based and research-based lab courses that help students develop science process skills and promote persistence in science.