Teaching

The materials presented here represent my teaching portfolio. I’ve put this portfolio together as a way to present my teaching experiences and contributions. Throughout this exercise, I’ve also been presented with the opportunity to assess my own professional growth. This teaching portfolio is made up a number of additional pages (which are linked to below) that include, among other things, descriptions of my teaching activities, my own reflections on teaching, evaluations from my students, and descriptions of my teaching interests. Just below these links, you will find a description of highlights from my own teaching experiences and an outline of my teaching interests.

Highlights from Teaching Experiences:
As a faculty member with Advanced Molecular Biology Laboratory (AMBL), the educational facilities of the Michael Smith Laboratories, I’m exploring creative ways to get people excited about Science. Inspired by the late Nobel Laureate Dr. Michael Smith and his commitment to science education, I’m involved in a wide variety of outreach programs that range from science education initiatives, to high school field trip programs, to interdisciplinary projects that bridge the Arts and the Sciences.

photo by Nick Wiebe

2008 MSL Teacher Conference, photo by Nick Wiebe

The Advanced Molecular Biology Laboratory (AMBL) offers a wide range of outreach programs designed to involve elementary, high school, and university communities in authentic, hands-on scientific inquiry, expose them to Canada’s leading researchers, and cultivate scientific curiosity and literacy. Annually, I organize two major science education conferences, one aimed at high school teacher professional development and the other for high school students. With our broad mandate of engaging audiences with Science, my role at AMBL often involves very creative and collaborative projects. For example, I’m one of four faculty and staff members involved in leading the Terry* project on campus, a joint initiative of the University of British Columbia’s Faculties of Arts and Science (as well as many others including those from groups as diverse as UBC Student Development and UBC Community Affairs) aimed at educating members of the UBC community (notably undergraduate students) on the pressing global issues of our time.

Much of my teaching experiences stem from my research and teaching experience in bioinformatics, a research field that I approach from my perspective as a molecular biologist. The arena of bioinformatics has wide appeal to graduate students, high school teachers, librarians, researchers, undergraduate students, physicians, and the general public. My unique role in user support, training, and education at the UBC Bioinformatics Center offered me very creative opportunities for developing teaching activities and very diverse venues for applying my own educational skills to bioinformatics research questions/challenges.  With my more recent general Sciences teaching and outreach experiences at AMBL, my teaching interests have broadened to include a special interest in hands-on opportunities for learning and science literacy.

My main experience with the undergraduate student audience comes from my being an instructor for MICB405: Bioinformatics in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of British Columbia. In 2005, I embraced the opportunity to teach the course and designed my own set of learning objectives. I created and taught new lecture materials, and learned how to implement a course web site using WebCT. From 2004-2006, I received funding for a bioinformatics curricula development project from TLEF at UBC. In the second phase of this TLEF project, I implemented new computer based laboratory workshops into undergraduate classroom setting at UBC.

MICB405:Bioinformatics is a 4th year course at UBC that introduces students to the concepts and applications of bioinformatics research across several broad topic areas including: sequence data and databases; sequence similarity throughout evolution; genomic and protein structural information; and network approaches to ’systems’ biology. From a biological perspective, the main considerations and applications of the computational tools used in each of these subject areas are discussed. Lecture materials are supplemented by in-class activities, self-assessed assignments, and a final project where small groups of students apply their skills to answer a self- directed research question.

I also have extensive experiences teaching bioinformatics materials at the post-graduate level through the Canadian Bioinformatics Workshop series. Through my experiences in continuing education, professional development, and by working with adult learners, I have learned to value different student perspectives and goals. I have an ongoing leadership role with CBW and work as part of a diverse and dynamic team of instructors that are affiliated with multiple unversities across Canada. In more recent years, I have also played leadership role in workshop planning and coordination. In 2006, I was invited to join the core faculty group for the CBW; a role that involves curricula development and management for all of the workshops in the CBW series.


Canadian Bioinformatics Workshops Logohttp://bioinformatics.ca/

The Canadian Bioinformatics Workshop Series are one and two week intensive professional development workshops which are the starting point for hands-on instruction in the use of software tools for genomic and computational biology for many researchers in Canada. The workshop is offered in various locations across Canada, has trained over 1000 individuals, and is accredited by the University of British Columbia, the University of Toronto, and the University of New Brunswick.

Statement of Teaching Interests:

I have broad teaching interests in the areas of science education and communication that stem from my research and teaching experiences in the fields of molecular biology, immunology, genetics, and bioinformatics. I am particularly interested in science outreach, teaching and curriculum development across disciplines, and hands-on learning.

Science outreach. As an Instructor with the Advanced Molecular Biology Laboratory (AMBL), I’m exploring creative ways to get people excited about science. Annually, I organize two major science education conferences, one aimed at high school teacher professional development and the other for high school students. I also provide leadership for our popular field trip programs, which have garnered a strong reputation for excellence. Recently, I’ve received three years of NSERC PromoScience funding to implement a new full-day bioinformatics field trip program for 14-16yr olds. In this science outreach role, I work with a wide variety of partners including various departments/faculties at UBC, Science World, BC Science Teachers’ Association, GenomeBC, Let’s Talk Science, BC Innovation Council, and BCIT, as examples. I would like to continue to be a champion for the development and delivery of high quality science outreach programming facilitated by the Michael Smith Laboratories.

Interdisciplinary teaching. With the broad goal of engaging diverse audiences with science, I’m interested in creative and collaborative teaching projects that aim to have wide appeal. For example, I’m one of four faculty and staff members involved in leading the Terry* project on campus, a joint initiative of the University of British Columbia’s Faculties of Arts and Science. I am also the project lead for UBC MIX, a TLEF funded project to create interdisciplinary connections in classrooms at UBC (terry.ubc.ca/mix). More recently, I have joined the curricula development team for a new pilot program to offer First Year Seminars in Science (FYS) at UBC. I’m helping to coordinate this initiative, with support from the Dean’s office at the Faculty of Science, and I’m quite excited about this unique educational opportunity. The FYS offer a supportive atmosphere for students to explore science as a way of knowing and the role that science plays in their own lives, and in society around them. My goal is to continue to seek out these kinds of innovative opportunities to teach across disciplines at UBC.

Course and curriculum development, especially with respect to developing and implementing hands-on opportunities for learning. The unique educational challenges offered by bioinformatics, an interdisciplinary field where learners often come from very different backgrounds, initially stimulated my interests in the education of diverse audiences. My research background in bioinformatics peaked my interests in the use of computers and technology to enhance the educational experience. To this end, I have an interest in tools for active learning and the use of technology. For example, I’ve initiated curricula development and review projects on campus, funded by the TLEF, which resulted in the incorporation of new hands-on computer lab experiences into a predominately lecture based undergraduate course at UBC (MICB405:Bioinformatics). I would like to continue to contribute to the development and delivery of MICB405: Bioinformatics. I also see my interests and expertise in these areas as beneficial to the professional workshops and laboratory courses hosted by AMBL.

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