Teaching Fellow, MSCI 398 “Caught! Implication of Capture Stress” 2020
- Self-designed, upper level course for marine science minors including discussions of primary literature and a research proposal
Teaching Assistant, MSCI 330 “Introduction to Marine Science” 2020
- Graded exams and homework, built Blackboard exams and assignments, lectured, held office hours, wrote study guides
Teaching Assistant, “Field Studies in Coastal Marine Environments” 2018, 2019
- Lectured; assisted in lab and field experiments; graded exams, advocated for students; oversaw student meals, lodging, and transportation at the field lab
Co-Mentor, NOAA EPP Program 2018
- Led undergraduate research on blood oxygen affinity, student went on to present the research and win an award
Co-Mentor, NOAA Hollings Program 2017
- Led undergraduate research on metabolism, student went on to publish with me and present this research at an international conference
My teaching philosophy centers around three values: inclusion and equity, academic rigor, and personalized attention. To create an inclusive classroom, I implement lessons from my work on the VIMS Diversity and Inclusion Steering Committee, framing my language to be inclusive and emphasizing the importance of different perspectives. I am actively committed to promoting healthy study habits and encourage my students to set goals for themselves both academically and personally (e.g., make space for others’ voices, practice self-care, etc.). To ensure I am challenging my students, I reference my formal training in college science teaching and experience designing two upper level undergraduate courses (regarding fish ecology, and physiology and fisheries management). I challenge students to think critically about links between the topic of the day and global issues such as climate change. I like to emphasize technical writing in my upper level courses, and work with students to write mini proposals to familiarize them with the scientific process. Having been a teaching assistant for introductory courses, I also recognize the challenge of teaching students with a diversity of academic backgrounds. I have worked to overcome this by incorporating jigsaw activities and other active-learning strategies to keep students engaged in their own learning. Equally important, I work hard to foster a feeling of community among my classes. I aim to be approachable and build personal relationships with my students in small or large class settings. During this past semester, I organized one-on-one zoom sessions with my introductory and upper level students to see how they were handing the abrupt transition to online learning, and course evaluations revealed this individual attention eased anxieties regarding grades and course structure.
One of the most important aspects of teaching is mentorship. I believe having mentors that make students feel heard is one of the most important elements in helping students, particularly those from underrepresented groups, succeed in higher education. In my role as a professor, I will strive to ensure my students feel like they are individuals, and that they are comfortable to approach me with content-related questions, as well as with problems external to the course itself. I have already implemented these values in my experiences as a TA for two undergraduate field courses, in which I helped students with disabilities navigate the unique challenges associated with being in a non-traditional learning environment. I have also mentored eight undergraduates in summer internships and through the NOAA Hollings Scholar and EPP programs, and helped first-generation students navigate the politics of academia. By tailoring the research experience and additional activities (i.e., R classes, primary literature discussions, etc) to the students’ interests and backgrounds, I was able to ensure each intern gained confidence doing independent research. Four of these students went on to present their work at regional and national conferences.
My experiences teaching my own courses have been the result of the active pursuit of teaching opportunities. In the first, I applied to participate in the Oberlin Experimental College, which allowed students to submit a syllabus for a 1-credit course that was open to students or community members. Designing my own course materials for “One Fish, Two Fish: An Introduction to Marine Life” taught me a lot about how to receive and incorporate student feedback throughout the semester, and how to appropriately scale primary literature assignments for non-life science majors. As a graduate student, I elected to take the College Science Teaching course which provided pedagogical tools for lesson planning, syllabus design, and assignment feedback. These lessons were put into practice through the Marine Science Teaching Fellows program, in which I designed and taught a 1-credit seminar-style course for undergraduates pursuing the marine science minor. The course relied heavily on primary literature, and culminated in a proposal writing exercise to help familiarize students with a grant-based funding scheme. By incorporating lessons I learned through the teaching course, I was able to notice differences in the level of student engagement, as well as with meeting the overall learning objectives compared to my first teaching experience. Knowing that I am better at meeting my student’s needs is incredibly rewarding, and only drives my desire to continually build upon my existing skill set.
The reason I was drawn to academia as a career are two-fold. While I love the opportunity of pursuing questions that interest me, I also am deeply committed to improving equity through inclusive teaching practices. I was fortunate to participate learning opportunities that shaped me both as a scientist and as a person, and I aspire to be able to facilitate the same kinds of experiences for my students. Moving forward, I will strive to do this through rigorous class activities that are inclusive of different learning styles and educational backgrounds, and through proactive mentorship. I firmly believe the best professors are those who never stop learning, and I hope to embody this belief by continuously seeking feedback from my students, peers, and mentors on how to improve my teaching and mentoring abilities.