Post-Secondary Education

UNiversity of Michigan, Ann Arbor MI

At the University of Michigan, I was a graduate student instructor for Introductory Molecular, Cellular, & Developmental Biology (BIOLOGY 172) and upper-level Molecular Biology (MCDB 427). Teaching BIOLOGY 172, I utilized historical examples, quirky YouTube videos (for example, using packed Japanese subway cars to represent the proton motive force), and pictures from adventures in the Ann Arbor area to illustrate the beauty and relevance of biology to introductory students. As a co-instructor for MCDB 427, an upper level molecular biology course, I redesigned the previously lecture-dominated curriculum to incorporate active learning. In discussion, students created a series of study materials including YouTube videos, practice exam questions, written summaries, and class presentations. My teaching philosophy is at the bottom of the page. Please feel free to reach out to me for teaching samples. 

YouTube banner image for MCDB 427's channel. 

YouTube banner image for MCDB 427's channel. 

Secondary Education

Gulliver Schools, Miami FL 

As the lead debate coach for Gulliver Schools, I worked closely with nationally-competitive high school debaters. Debaters I have coached have won national championships and competed at the highest levels, both on the novice, junior varisity, and varsity levels. In addition, I am the founder of Go, Fight, Win Novice Debate, a free online curriculum for novice policy debaters. 

Gulliver Novice Debate Team, Pinecrest Tournament 2015

Gulliver Novice Debate Team, Pinecrest Tournament 2015

Primary Education

Galileo Innovation Camps, Chicago IL

As a Lead Science Instructor for Galileo Innovation Camps, I inspired young innovators (3rd-5th grades) in the sciences. Teaching the Galileo Innovation Approach (based off the Stanford d.school's innovation process), I worked as a instructor for the Galileo summer day camps in Winnetka, a suburb of Chicago IL. Projects included hydraulic marble runs, catapults, and galimotos. 

Galileo 1.png

Teaching Philosophy

Post-secondary Education: Biology

Fundamentally, the biology is the study of communities – communities of macro and microorganisms, of proteins and metabolites—and yet, too often, members of the biological sciences fail to recognize that they too constitute a community. The scientific community is related by a passion for inquiry, a rigorous methodology for answering questions, and fundamentally, a love of learning. Thus, I feel it is my role as an instructor to a) make my students feel a part of the greater scientific community and b) equip them with the skills to be successful scientists and citizens. To fulfill both goals, my primary objective is to inspire students to actively pursue learning. Regardless of the content of the course, I want students to walk away from my class excited about the process of intellectual inquiry and with the skills to pursue it in a variety of contexts, including non-academic ones. Although I cannot expect all of my students to pursue a career in the sciences, I aim to provide them with the portable skills of a scientist – a knack for problem solving, an analytical framework for approaching problems, and a curiosity to keep asking questions. I believe the act of teaching should be a dynamic process, where the instructor and students challenge each other in the process of inquiry.  As an instructor, I owe it to my students to work as hard as they do to create a positive learning experience and continue improving my own knowledge.

My role as an instructor is in service of my students, and I believe that monolithic approaches to teaching are rarely responsive enough to the needs of an ever-changing class. To foster a dynamic learning environment, I am interested in implementing a wide variety of techniques.

First, my teaching experience with flipped-classroom and digital media education has convinced me that integrating classroom learning into everyday experience, such as through digital media, encourages students to apply what they are learning in a variety of contexts. As an instructor for an upper-level molecular biology course at the University of Michigan (MCDB 427), I redesigned the course curriculum to integrate inquiry-based, active learning activities into the previously lecture-focused course. Students worked in small groups to create study materials for future classes, including YouTube lectures, class presentations, practice exam questions, and written summaries of course material. In addition to helping students master subject material, these projects taught students portable skills such as public speaking, digital communication, and scientific writing skills. By incorporating student-generated online study materials, a wide variety of texts (academic and non-academic), and opportunities for collaboration, the new curriculum was designed to facilitate success of all types of student leaners.

Second, I am interested in contextualizing course material to current events and integrating interdisciplinary texts (e.g. historical texts or pieces of literature or art). I believe these techniques help to illustrate difficult scientific concepts are important to draw the relevance of class material to broader contexts. As an instructor for the introductory biology at the University of Michigan (BIOLOGY 172), I incorporated quirky YouTube videos, historical examples, and pictures from my own travels to contextualize challenging course material.

Third, I have found that the most rewarding classes are those that engage students both academically and socially. Creating collaborative opportunities outside of class often motivates students in a way assessments cannot. While teaching both introductory and upper-level courses, I have facilitated extra-curricular study groups and collaborative office hours to make large classes seem smaller and better understand and serve my students. Scheduling office hours late at night or on the weekends (often in coffeehouses and libraries students frequent), assisting students in advising and career development, and genuinely listening to and addressing their concerns holds students personally accountable for their academic decisions and establishes that I am personally dedicated to their success.

In my opinion, multiple choice and written assessments are meant to be just that—tools for the instructor and their students to assess understanding of course material. Students are not monolithic and the ways in which they best demonstrate mastery of the material varies widely. Therefore, having a set of assessments that encompass a range of skills is important to training well-rounded students; these might include exams with multiple choice and short answer questions, homework assignments, paper writing, and group projects. Incorporating diverse assessments is important to introduce students to the range of skill sets important to success in the scientific disciplines. Ultimately, these assessments should reinforce student learning, not serve as the sole proxy for it.

As an instructor, empowering students to pursue academic inquiry is the most rewarding and powerful aspect of my work. However, fostering a comfortable classroom climate is a prerequisite to student engagement. After experiencing discrimination firsthand due to my race, gender, and background, I understand how feeling unwelcome paralyzes learning. I have taught a wide audience of learners– socioeconomically disadvantaged students, students with learning disabilities, immigrants, victims of sexual assault, adults returning to college—and these experiences have taught me that anyone– regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or age—can succeed. In the classroom, I make explicit efforts to incorporate a variety of viewpoints and activities that are intended to decrease variability in student success due to their background. My role, not only as an instructor, but also as an individual, is to forge a new narrative that reverses the power dynamics that have led to the educational inequality of the status quo. I believe the most important way to foster success of minorities is not to simply implement “tried and tested activities” but demonstrate to students that you believe that they can succeed. Empowering underrepresented minorities in science is showing that you truly believe that they can –that with determination, they can achieve more than they ever imagined. The largest component of the glass ceiling are forces that act, not outside, but inside the individual; they manifest in what we believe we can do. 

Through the years, my most salient learning experiences were not memorable because of the content, but their form. The best lectures felt like an adventure, where new material was presented in conjunction with unexpected plot twists that challenged me to not only reconsider how I thought about the world, but also reconsider how I thought as an individual. As an instructor, my role is to similarly challenge my students to think critically, not only about the problem at hand, but how they approach it.