Teaching philosophy

I see learning as an ongoing conversation that necessarily involves community. I help my students to see how knowledge is generated by a community, and guide them in exploring the ways that knowledge can then serve communities. Ultimately, my goal is for students to see that the pursuit of knowledge, while deeply self-gratifying, has its most worthwhile expression in service to others. My professional training and experience so far have taught me that students learn best when they are treated as investigators of their own minds. Thus, my teaching is characterized by the transparency with which I communicate learning goals to students, enabling them to make concrete decisions about their own learning process. 

Courses taught

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Brain & Behavior: Introduction to Neuroscience w/ Lab

In this course, we explore the various subfields within neuroscience and learn about how each of these subfield address questions of human and animal behaviour. Students explore the biological mechanisms of topics including sleep, emotions, stress, mental health, memory, learning, development, attention, consciousness. This course is designed as a required sophomore-level course for psychology and neuroscience majors. Accompanying weekly labs help students to apply their knowledge. In labs, students use Cartoon Network to design their own neural circuits, use brain slices from Grisham et al., 2008, Neurosci Lett to analyze the effect of estradiol on the female bird song system, and perform their own sheep brain dissection. The lab culminates in a group project where students design their own experiment and must analyze and present hypothetical data.

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Advanced Topics in Biopsychology

This course explores canonical topics in modern neurobiology/biopsychology through discussion primary research articles. The main focus of the course will be on changes in methodologies of biopsychology over time. By focusing on methodology, we can see how research questions are refined or constrained by the methodologies available to us. Students will be able to critically assess the strengths and weaknesses of contemporary methodologies in research. We will discuss methods including CRISPR, genetic models of disease, imaging (Calcium, immunofluorescence), genetic tools for manipulation of neurons (e.g. optogenetics).

robotic animals

This course allows students to explore how complex behaviors result from relatively simple interactions between an organism’s perceptual/motor system and its environment. In teams, students will engage in both engineering design and experimental design. This course centers around a two-part project. In the first part, teams will each design and create an “animal” with a specified set of complex behaviors. In the second part, the teams will then design a series of experiments to “understand” the behavior of the other group's “animal.”

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Science Communication

SciComm is a projects-based course that provides students with opportunities to practice speaking, writing, and exhibiting on the latest research in psychology and neuroscience-related topics in a variety of settings. Importantly, this course not only cultivates students to be critical consumers of popular science, but critical producers as well. Projects in this course included translating a primary research article into a work of art, writings a news article about a research article, hosting a podcast, and hosting a campus-wide discussion on representation in STEM. For this latter discussion (pictured), SciComm students highlighted differences between the book and movie for Hidden Figures, and talked about how these differences in representation may affect perceptions of women of colour in STEM.

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Introduction to Psychological Perspectives

In this course, we explore explanations for diverse behaviours and thought from multiple perspectives in psychology and its subfields. One goal of this course is to help students apply research in psychology to both society at large and to their individual experiences. For the former, groups designed research-inspired products or programs that helped to address a social issue. They presented their projects at a campus-wide trade fair (pictured). To help students see application to their individual lives, students wrote a letter to themselves at the beginning of the semester about an experience they have lingering questions about. At the end of the semester, students open these letters again and were asked to answer their own question with their knowledge from the course.

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Comprehensive Senior Research

Affectionately known as “Senior Research",” this class is really a research project. Senior psychology and neuroscience students must complete an independent research project from design to data collection to analysis to reporting and faculty act as advisors. Projects include topics like the effects of music on exercise to astrocytosis following spinal cord injury. My mentorship has mostly been for projects involving non-human subjects.