Learning to think like a scientist is an empowering skill that everyone can master. In the courses I teach, the scientific process is the most important concept. At Berry, we have the best possible classroom: ~27,000 acres of forests, lakes, streams, and meadows. I love getting students outside so they can get firsthand experience with biology. I’m passionate about other innovative teaching methods as well. Read on for details of out-of-the-box courses I’ve taught!

Biological Diversity (BIO106, Berry College)

Biological Diversity combines lecture and laboratory components and is geared toward non-majors, but we’re always grateful for majors who take it as an elective and share their expertise with the rest of the class! This course focuses on the diversity of non-human life, as well as the diversity of people, human societies, and how we interact with the natural world. While learning about organisms and ecosystems, we also explore our own social identities and how they’ve shaped our relationship with biology. We also discover the reasons why diversity among scientists is critically important.

Evolutionary Biology (BIO345)

Evolutionary Biology is an upper-level lecture course in which students read and analyze scientific papers, master important concepts in evolution, and get outside to experience biology firsthand on the Berry College campus. Students end the semester with a review paper on a topic of their choice, and as an instructor, I learn so much about evolutionary biology from reading them!


Genetics (BIO304, Berry College)

Through lecture and laboratory components, Genetics teaches students about basic inheritance, DNA structure and chemistry, replication and transcription, gene regulation, translation and protein processing, and biotechnology. In the laboratory portion of the class, I implement a course-based undergraduate research experience (CURE) in which students develop valuable bioinformatics skills and study the evolution of parasitic plant genes. Students also work with bacteria, fungi, and plants in the lab, and we’re hoping to incorporate a true classic – Drosophila! – in the near future.

Immunology and Disease (Sera Monastic University, Emory-Tibet Science Initiative)

In the summer of 2019, I traveled to India and co-taught Immunology and Disease to Tibetan Buddhist monks through the Emory-Tibet Science Initiative. The seven-day course incorporated lecture and laboratory components, in which students learned about types of disease, transmission of pathogens, prevention and treatment of illness, and immunology. In our time at the monastery, my fellow teachers and I learned about Tibetan Buddhism and toured important sites in the area. This was one of the most formative experiences in my teaching career!

Biology Methods and Research (BIO114, Spelman College)

In the Fall 2017 semester, I designed and taught a CURE at Spelman College. In Biology Methods and Research, students mastered the scientific process and completed a hands-on research project using the Escovopsis/fungal cultivar system that I currently study at Emory University. The following list includes the major components of BIO114:

  • An in-class investigation of host specificity in Escovopsis, in which students were required to
    • Master the scientific process
    • Keep a laboratory notebook
    • Deliver an oral presentation on their research
    • Write a lab report, in the style of a peer-reviewed journal article
    • Create a poster for presentation at Spelman’s annual Research Day
  • Practice with experimental design, by
    • Reading infographics from the CDC on current public health threats
    • Identifying related research questions
    • Designing a hypothetical experiment that could be used to address the research question
  • Reading of primary literature
  • An oral presentation of an evidence-based stance on a current hot topic in biology
In BIO114, we paired different Escovopsis samples (middle of plate) with different hosts (edge of plate). It’s easy to see which host this Escovopsis prefers!

Co-instructor: Dr. Jennifer Kovacs

Genetics (GENE 3200, the University of Georgia Costa Rica Campus)

In the Fall 2016 semester, I served as the instructor of an introductory genetics course for the University of Georgia. As if that wasn’t enough of an honor, I got to teach it at the Costa Rica campus! My six students and I covered fundamental concepts in genetics, which required us to spend time in a classroom since GENE 3200 is a prerequisite for further coursework in the subject. Our course involved lots of problem-solving, as well as presentations and occasional games (like guava ball!). Of course, we spent plenty of “out of class” time together in nature!