I have developed my teaching interests and philosophy throughout my scientific career, and could not be more excited to (re)join the Department of Biology and Biotechnology at WPI, from which I earned my undergraduate degree! I truly believe the objectives of the laboratory courses I teach must reflect the necessity of (1) training life sciences majors using the wide array of current procedures used in academic and industrial settings; (2) modeling the ability to troubleshoot procedures and strategies due to unexpected results or unforeseen circumstances; (3) preparing students to be successful after graduating with a life sciences degree. I believe as an educator I must model the excitement and passion that must accompany the scientific method at the bench, and extend my commitment to training our nascent scientists beyond the spatial and temporal boundaries of the laboratory classroom. My teaching philosophy permeates the innovations and initiatives I have developed for the laboratory courses I teach and the service activities I have undertaken.
I believe that as college educators we are training future scientists rather than merely teaching students as they fulfill a degree requirement. As such, a forward-thinking approach is necessary where laboratory course offerings evolve to stay current with respect to methodologies and instrumentation to best prepare our graduates. Experiments performed in the labs are continually updated to reflect the evolution of techniques, methods, equipment, and approaches that scientists face in the 21st century.
I firmly believe the most important role of any educator is to act as a mentor for students. I strive to fulfill this critical role by inspiring interest in the life sciences with high standards and expectations for student performance. I successfully balance professionalism with approachability as I interact with students. I am committed to modeling a passion for the hypotheses, procedures, data, and conclusions in each laboratory session. This zeal is infectious, and clearly conveys to the students that their science is valued and exciting. I affirm science education requires input and investment from those being trained, and is more valuable to the students because it is their hypotheses tested and ideas evaluated. The solutions students develop are always well-thought out and creative, and most often result in the ultimate successful completion of the research objective.
A typical life sciences laboratory course trains a few dozen students for an intense but brief period of time. I believe that to prepare students to become successful scientists this training must extend beyond the term or lab room. Perhaps the most direct impact an educator can have on current and former students is promoting student placement in medical/graduate schools, as well as in the biotechnology industry. I believe assisting the placement of our graduates and promoting their career development is more valuable than any one skill we can demonstrate in a laboratory course, and represents the highest level of service to our graduates, the college, and university.