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"The most impactful interactions between students and faculty occur one-to-one, or working collaboratively in small groups. Hearing each other’s stories, working together to overcome challenges, this is where learning happens"

Teaching Philosophy

I strongly believe that one of the most important missions of a university professor is to provide students with the skills and critical thinking to be functional citizens who center equity and help solve tomorrow’s problems. The discipline of Biology provides us with an outstanding platform from which to carry out these goals, since an understanding of basic biology, physiology and ecology are necessary to address topics of worldwide concern, including wildlife preservation, human and animal health, and environmental change. Based on student’s curiosity about the place and role of human in the natural world, we can give them the tools to think critically about and winnow through the large amount of information available at a given moment. I believe that a biology curriculum should aim at providing students with an understanding of the scientific methods, the capability to think critically about accessible knowledge, and the ability to contextualize biological concepts.

As a scientist, I endeavor to communicate to students the necessity to regularly examine current knowledge. Given the myriad of information available in science and built on already existing research, it is of utmost importance to ensure that this diverse base of research is stable before drawing any conclusions. I feel that a biology teacher should provide students with the framework for understanding the scientific process, and guide them to a logical conclusion. One mean to achieve this is to give basic knowledge on a question, show evidence, and assist students in drawing conclusions based on tangible observation and student’s own experience. I systematically encourage to create a learning environment with a respectful atmosphere fecund for questions and novel ideas.

Teaching in large lecture halls with many students taught at once may be time and space efficient, as are massive open online courses. However, cumulative evidence suggests that this way of lecturing is not the most effective method of education. Instead, the development of peer instruction as well as interactive and active learning – coupled with lectures where necessary – seem to lead to the best results when it comes to thorough understanding and acquisition of a concept. From my experience, personal contact with students, either in small class or one-to-one mentoring, results in much more efficient student learning. Beside personal encouragement to students, it allows me as a teacher to find the best way to explain a concept or idea to each particular student.

During the past years as researcher and teacher, I worked to intentionally incorporate effective practices into my teaching. Research on high impact practices in education (e.g., Kilgo et al. 2015) suggests that incorporating practices like active and collaborative learning and undergraduate/graduate research leads to better outcomes in factors like critical thinking and intercultural effectiveness. I enforced myself to incorporate one or more of these practices in each of my teaching opportunities. Enabling effective teamwork through training, and providing students with chances to work as a team in designing experiments and read scientific literature allow them to synthetize information and develop fluent and effective communication both to scientists and to general audiences.

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