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Science Education & Communication

Communicating Science

Communicating science and teaching scientific thinking skills to undergraduate students: Many students enter the University with excellent memorization skills, but struggle to make the transition to scientific (critical, evidence-based) thinking. In contrast to memorization, which is based on more or less passive consumption of the class material, critical thinking requires active processing of information, and higher-level cognitive skills (application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation). These skills not only help students succeed in the sciences and in college, but are also considered life-long learning skills that inform educated decisions, and are crucial for a successful career in any field. Therefore, facilitating critical thinking skills in introductory biology classes, and providing the type of active learning required to foster critical thinking, is very important to me. To support my students in this process, I have developed and assessed many learning supports, including how-to-study workshops, self-testing instructions, exam analysis exercises, and mixed exam formats.

Communicating science to a broad audience: To be successful, it is essential that science graduate students not only can communicate their science to colleagues within their discipline, but also across disciplines and to interested non-expert audiences. For this purpose I have developed a Communicating Science course for graduate students. I am also interested in how different views of the scientific process in different biological subdisciplines affect their respective approach to science (e.g. accommodation of hypotheses versus testing of hypotheses) and the interpretation of data. By developing a common framework, I am aiming to facilitate science communication between students in the different biological research disciplines.


Faculty Development

Faculty workshops in Scientific Teaching: As the Director of the National Academies Southeast Summer Institute on undergraduate biology education (2011-2016; funded by HHMI) I organized weeklong summer workshops (2012-2015), with follow up-meetings in spring (2013-2016) in Scientific Teaching. During this time, these institutes served 139 faculty and administrators from >25 Institutions across the Southeast, and helped faculty develop assessment design, active learning and inclusive teaching skills to facilitate critical thinking for all students. Our final meeting (supported by HHMI and ORAU) was held in July 2016.

National Academies Southeast Summer Institute on Scientific Teaching, Director and Regional Coordinator 2012-2016.


Classroom Instruction

I. UGA [since Fall 2006]

  • Principles of Biology II for majors (BIOL 1108 Lecture)
  • Organismal Biology for non-majors (BIOL 1104 Lecture)
  • TA-training (GRSC 7770 Seminar)
  • Freshmen Seminar (FRES 1010): Do your BEST: How to study and learn in college 
  • Undergraduate Research (BIOL 4960R, BIOL 4970R, BIOL4970R, BIOL 4990R)
  • Communicating Science (BIOL/PBIO 8010), Explaining your Science (PBIO 8920)
  • Freshmen Odyssey Seminar (FYOS 101): All about Fireflies. 
  • YoungDawgs Program. Research experiences for Highschool students.
  • Plant-Animal Interactions (PBIO/ECOL 4520/6520).

II. University of Texas at Austin [1997-2006]

  • Structure and Function of Organisms (Lecture)
  • Principles of Animal Behavior (Lecture)
  • Undergraduate Research 

III. Wake Forest University [1995-1997]

  • Comparative Physiology (Lecture)
  • Behavioral Ecology (Lecture and Lab)
  • Evolution of Primate Social Systems (Seminar)
  • Undergraduate Research

IV. Duke University [1993-1995]

  • Introductory Biology Labs I & II
  • Evolution of Primate Social Systems (Seminar)