Year Awarded: 2009
College of Medicine
Molecular Biology and Microbiology
Engagement is the key to education. In the classroom, I engage my students by establishing a dialogue with them. Instead of simply reciting information, I ask questions. Why is the CDC in Atlanta? Students are surprised to learn that the original goal of the CDC was to eliminate malaria from the southern United States. Historical and contemporary references thus provide my students with real-world links to the lecture material. Other questions ask the students to apply their knowledge of the class material. These questions focus on critical thinking skills and allow me to reinforce the major themes of the course. Critical thinking is also emphasized in my upper-division classes which present data from the primary literature as a way of enhancing the textbook lessons. This question-and-answer format inevitably becomes a dialogue, with the students asking most of the questions. As such, the students take ownership of the class and become active participants in the learning process.
Engagement includes hands-on learning; the best way to learn science is to practice it. I have accordingly sponsored independent research projects for eleven UCF undergraduates. I also established a Program for Undergraduate Research (PURE) within the Department of Molecular Biology and Microbiology. PURE p