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Marc Curtis


Office: 541-737-5287

Cordley Hall

Cordley Hall 1115

2701 SW Campus Way

2701 SW Campus Way
Corvallis, OR 97331



I completed my B.S. in Biochemistry at the University of New Hampshire. As an undergraduate, I did research on the bovine corpus luteum. After a year of odd jobs, I moved to Oregon to do my Ph.D. in Botany and Plant Pathology. I used fluorescence microscopy to study the role of mitochondria in cell death of oat cells in response to a fungal toxin. My Postdoctoral research  was on mechanisms of copying damaged DNA in cells of plant meristems. I then worked in the Plant Clinic using DNA diagnostics to identify microbial pathogens of ornamental plants before becoming an Instructor and an Advisor. I am lead advisor for both campus and Ecampus Botany undergraduates and Post Baccs.  Most of all, I love all that life is and cherish the time I spend studying nature and working and playing in nature.

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Affiliated with: 
Ag Botany / Plant Path
Courses Taught: 

BOT 220: Introduction to Plant Biology

BOT 331: Plant Physiology

Corvallis Campus

BOT 220: Introduction to Plant Biology



Teaching Philosophy

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.

Professional Accomplishments

PhD, 2003, Oregon State University, Corvallis

My Awards
My Publications
My Media
Outreach and Extension

Example of K-12 outreach:  Scavenger hunt at Dixon Creek, 2013.  Combining art with science is an integrative strategy for connecting with diverse learning styles.
Dixon Creek map; example of collecting cards

Instructional videos

Logic of using Synapomorphies to infer phylogeny (video may not load in Firefox, try a different browser (e.g. Internet Explorer)