Teaching & Mentoring

I follow 5 tenets when teaching and mentoring, each deeply ingrained in my values:

  • I believe learning is more authentic when we connect it to tangible experiences.
  • I believe creating effective systems is a necessary foundation for student success.
  • I believe we must bring one another along on our learning journey.
  • I believe that if I stand back to observe and assess before I dive in, my teaching is more responsive.
  • I believe that learning to draw conclusions from evidence, rather than pre-existing biases, expectations, or beliefs, is fundamental to engaged citizenship.

In my undergraduate courses, I use real life examples to connect the course material to the students’ tangible experiences. Further, we regularly practice interpreting data, designing experiments to test hypotheses, and predicting results. I use a flipped classroom because it allows me to engage students in small groups; a key feature of these interactions is that students bring one another along on their learning journey, through collaboration and peer teaching. My role during these interactions is to stand back, observe, and assess where the students are with the material. This allows me to respond to students’ misunderstandings that we explore the material together.

My graduate seminar topics have included brain evolution, animal decision making, and a course on professional skills for faculty based on the curriculum of the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity (link). A key component of the course is peer support and accountability, creating structure to bring one another along on our journey.

As a mentor to graduate students, my goal is to create a mentoring system that promotes success while allowing the student to develop intellectual independence. Thus, I offer students a scaffold of intellectual resources — through lab meetings, individual meetings, and structured reading assignments — while allowing the student to choose and direct his or her research project. Further, I reinforce the benefits of bringing one another along on the journey in yearly meetings in which my aim is to provide constructive feedback to the student as well as to learn how to be a better mentor to that individual.

Courses taught

  • Behavioral neuroscience (Biol 455) for advanced undergraduates
  • Animal Cognition (690) for advanced undergraduates and graduate students
  • Behavioral endocrinology (552) for advanced undergraduates
  • Faculty Success Program (Biol 801) for graduate students, postdocs, and faculty