Adventures in Teaching

My name is Elizabeth, and I am a second-year graduate student in the Parks Lab. As part of my education, I have served as a Teaching Assistant for three different biology courses at Syracuse, which has been an awesome experience, and definitely reinforced my love of sharing my knowledge and passion for science with others.

This semester, I was assigned to teach the lab section of the Introductory Biology class at Syracuse. We covered your typical freshman biology topics, like cell division (who can still name the stages of mitosis??), DNA and genetics, dissections, and cell structures (mitrochondria is the powerhouse of the cell, etc.). As the semester was wrapping up, our final week covered the incredibly broad field of “Ecology.”

This is what I had been waiting for! I consider myself a marine ecologist, and the behavior and interactions between species fascinates me. For my thesis, I am planning to study food web dynamics for baleen whale species in the North Atlantic, so this week, I was in my element. We talked about inter- and intra- species competition, modeled predator-prey dynamics, and made a collaborative food web of a hypothetical forest ecosystem.

I think my excitement was contagious! The students were engaged, curious, and proud to show off their artistic skills:


At the end of class, I had students asking me where they could take more ecology classes in the future, and one student told me this was the most he had learned in class all year. Since I plan to make a career as a college professor, this really touched me, and it reinforces the importance of great teachers – getting students involved and engaged, and inspiring them to become the next great scientists, or at the very least, informed citizens. Cheers to another great semester come to an end!

– Elizabeth

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