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Courses: ANTH 175 (Evolutionary Medicine), ANTH 362 (Human Biological Variation), ANTH 369 (Human Growth and Development), ANTH 487 (Bioanthropology Methods)
In my classes you will:
- Make connections to lived experiences and real-world challenges.
- Understand what it means to be at a research university with the chance to gain new knowledge.
I was invited into the Teaching Academy because:
- I am a Williams Fellow.
- I was recognized as an Outstanding Undergraduate Advisor.
In what ways are you working to make your teaching inclusive?
This focus on being inclusive infuses all the classes I teach. One of my favorite classes to teach is Human Biological Variation, which is a group-satisfying Science class and also counts towards the Multicultural requirement. One of the major threads that runs through the class is the understanding and appreciation of human diversity, with particular attention to how we make sense of very real racial discrimination in US society yet without any real racial biological/genetic variation. This is an incredibly complex (and loaded) topic so I spend the better part of half the term approaching this from various different angles and creating a safe, respectful environment within which students can grapple with these important issues.
What do you do in terms of professional engagement with the teaching and learning culture on campus or nationally?
I spend a lot of time thinking about this since I am on the advisory board of the Teaching Academy (and was a founding member) and I run a lot of teaching development workshops. I am always learning new things from my fantastic colleagues at UO and from research on teaching and learning. I’m always changing my courses to try to make them more effective, as well as more interesting and enjoyable. One example is that I recently changed the assignments in my Evolutionary Medicine class to include less emphasis on midterm and final exams and instead created a capstone group project—a public health policy “white paper”—that has student groups develop solutions to pressing US public health issues such diabetes, autism, and anxiety disorders. This allows students to apply the material they learned in the course to a “real world” problem.
In what ways was your teaching in this course research-led—informed by research on how students learn and inflected by UO's research mission?
In addition to my faculty position I serve as the Associate Vice Provost for Undergraduate Research and Distinguished Scholarships. That position grew out of what I do in the classroom since all my courses are designed to connect students to research and to make it accessible—in essence aligning the research and teaching missions of the university. I do this in a variety of ways, including: teaching students in my introductory Evolutionary Medicine class to read a research paper and design testable hypotheses; connect students in my Human Growth and Development class to ongoing research in the field of growth and development, helping them to understand how research findings are synthesized and put into textbooks and clinical practice; and, teaching students in my Bioanthropology Methods class how to write a research proposal. Since the University of Oregon is a major research university, I believe it is critical that research infuses our curriculum and shapes how we teach all our classes.
What is your proudest professional achievement?
In 2013 I was elected as Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). AAAS is one of the oldest and most prestigious scientific organizations and each year names several hundred Fellows from across all scientific disciplines because of their contributions to science. I was recognized for contributions to the field of human biology, particularly to human nutrition and energetics, evolutionary medicine, global health, and growth, development, and aging. I’m still amazed that I was recognized!
What’s the most inspiring classroom moment you’ve experienced?
A favorite recent classroom moment is not from a formal class but instead from an orientation I teach to UO undergrads (in a classroom, so this works) for a community event that I run each year in partnership with the nonprofit Huerto de la Familia and local health care providers. Each year about 20 UO students volunteer for the health fair (Dia de Salud) and my lab (the Global Health Biomarker Laboratory) provides training to the students (in finger prick blood collection, measurement of blood pressure and lung function, etc.) in preparation for the event. Each year the students speak in the orientation about what motivated them to participate in this community outreach experience. Each year I am blown away by the stories that are shared and the sincerity and eloquence with which the students speak of their lives and goals. Last year I had four returning students (i.e., they had participated in the event in a previous year) and all four said that the event was life-changing for them. Moments like this inspire and energize me!