BOT220: Introduction to Plant Biology, On campus and Ecampus
BOT331: Plant Physiology, Ecampus
BI314: Cell and Molecular Biology, On campus
BI445/545: Evolution, On campus
Primary goals of instruction are 1) to encourage students to gain a sense of how the characteristics of an organism emerge from the molecular interactions that guide cell behaviors, which account for development of form and responses to external inputs, 2) to encourage students to recognize that present diversity has a history and a future, 3) increase student literacy of biology across all levels of organization (molecular to ecosystem), and 4) encourage students to appreciate this amazing, wonderful and mysterious Earth upon which we owe our existence too.
My favorite tools are genetics, bioassays and a dissecting scope (7x-45x). The contribution of cells to form is observable at a magnification of 45x, and provides a visual bridge between genotype and phenotype. Variation in form between two individuals can be observed with a dissecting scope, if not with the unaided eye. Bioassays are often simple but ingenious ways of observing variation in function (physiology). Accessibility to diverse flowers, fruits and other plant organs provide excellent material for dissection, which invariably results in pleasant discoveries being made by the curios and attentive student.
My favorite graphics for thinking about how past populations evolved into present diversity are phylogenetic trees (cladograms) labeled with character transitions. A present species holds genetic variation that represents a range of possibilities in form and function that will evolve as ecological interactions unfold in parallel with change in climate.
Course work includes study questions, practice exams and thorough exams as a means to challenge students to increase their literacy of biology. My own passion for experiencing biological diversity and learning all 'her' secrets hopefully encourages students to also pay attention to nature.
Providing opportunities for hands on, memorable experiences of observing nature in K-12 classrooms is also a priority. Genetics, bioassays, tree-thinking and dissecting scopes are all tools that can be used in K-12 classrooms. Playing outside is also a good start to learning biology.