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A Teaching Professor’s Pathway: Building Community, Engaging Learners, and Improving Equity

By sharing my experiences and perspectives as a teaching professor, I hope to contribute to the ongoing demystification of the diverse pathways taken by teaching professors as they contribute to our shared missions of teaching, service, and scholarship. During this interactive presentation, we will have opportunities to reflect on and discuss strategies for building community, engaging learners, and improving equity, both in the classroom and beyond the classroom.

Building and repairing the skin: Insights from zebrafish

Epithelial organs adopt precise structures during development that must be rapidly repaired in
response to injury. My lab uses zebrafish skin as a model system to understand the molecular
and cellular basis of epithelial organ development and repair. Skin contains a heterogeneous
mixture of cell types—including stem cells, sensory cells, and immune cells—that together
bestow the organ with its remarkable durability and touch sensitivity. In this talk, I will highlight

It’s not you, it’s me: individuality in insect behavior and its ecological impact

Individuality is a fundamental feature of animal behavior and represents a potent substrate that evolutionary pressures can act upon. Such idiosyncrasy in behavior exists across scales: within a single animal from moment-to-moment, across animals responding to an identical stimulus, or in response to complex and changing environments. Individuality within insect behavior is also important to understand within the context of global health.

Belong, Achieve, Mentor: lessons from the BioCORE Scholars Program

Using an algorithm incorporating high school GPA and SAT scores, we can predict a student’s GPA in biology at the end of SPU’s introductory undergraduate sequence. A disproportionate number of underrepresented students, however, are predicted to have lower grades. This finding instigated the development of the BioCORE Scholars Program in 2015. Its interventions include study cohorts, peer mentors, community role models, and research participation.

Encouraging a Joy of Learning in Biology through Mentorship, Community Building, and Technology

For many students, stepping into an undergraduate science classroom can be intimidating. Students face many barriers to success, including weaknesses in their educational backgrounds, mental and physical health issues, and outside demands on their time. As faculty, we walk beside our students through these challenges and work to inspire them to feel invested in their learning. In this talk, I will describe several strategies that I have used to create engaging classroom environments.

Fostering intrinsic motivation through creativity, curiosity, and connection

In the era of standardized testing, it is all too easy to lose the curiosity and love of learning that drove us as young learners, and switch to an extrinsic motivation mindset, learning just enough to get the desired grade. I hypothesize that by designing assignments and modules which value creativity and curiosity, and have the right balance of challenge, autonomy, purpose, and community building, we can help our students rekindle their intrinsic motivation and love of science and guide them into becoming lifelong learners.

Using evidence to teach effectively and equitably

As scientists, we find motivating questions, we collaborate with colleagues, and we engage with peer-reviewed studies to guide our research. As teachers, we should do the same to guide our teaching. In this talk, I'll explain (a) what my teaching goals are, (b) how my practice is guided by pedagogical studies, (c) how I contribute to pedagogical research, and (d) future goals for undergraduate education at UW Biology.


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