Teaching and Outreach

Mission statement

I am passionate about teaching, especially programming and bioinformatics to biologists. I believe that all of us who attempt to read the book of life need to be equipped with the tools - which only bioinformatics and big data can provide - to look in an unbiased manner. I am a proponent of active learning, and (when appropriate!) project-based and activity-based learning. I believe that the combination of innovative strategies in teaching, including peer learning and flipped classrooms, with the best that the digital revolution has to offer (video recordings of lectures, podcasts, screencasts, interactive web-based learning environments such as CodeAcademy and MOOCs from the world’s best thinkers) makes today an especially fortunate time to be a learner. Students need no longer be limited by where they are geographically to learn, and instead of working on mundane fill-in-the-blanks secret class assignments can set up web resources, blogs and apps to showcase skills they’ve acquired to future employers as part of a truly modern education in the XXI century.

I also believe that because science around the world is funded largely by taxpayer investment, we as a community should be held accountable to those outside of our profession - which is why I am involved in outreach activities to discuss the work that I do with the general public.

Finally, I believe in openness: open source, open access and open data - because all of should be able to reap the rewards of living in the technological marvel that is the XXI century.

Teaching and outreach activities

Tutor

School of Chemistry and Molecular Bioscience, University of Queensland (February 2011 – July 2015)

  • During the entire course of my PhD I tutored second and third year undergraduate and masters courses at UQ in Molecular and Cell Biology, Microbiology, Genetics and Bioinformatics. These include BIOL3004: Genomics & Bioinformatics (Semester 1, 2013; Semester 1, 2014; Semester 1, 2015), BIOL2200: Cell Structure & Function (Semester 1, 2012; Semester 1, 2013; Semester 1, 2014; Semester 1, 2015), MICR3004: Microbial Genetics & Genomics (Semester 2, 2012; Semester 2, 2013), MICR3003: Molecular Microbiology (Semester 1, 2011; Semester 1, 2012; Semester 1, 2015) and BIOL2202/BIOL6020: Genetics (Semester 2, 2011). I was also involved in marking assingments, invigilating examinations, including as senior examiner, and developing handouts and video materials to assist students with their studies.

  • These practical courses not only teach crucial laboratory and computational methodologies, but also allow students majoring in science to interact with tutors and ask about the realities of doing research, how to apply for Honours, and what life in the scientific world is like; according to the majority of students I have interacted with, these courses represent the first time during their undergraduate education they have such mentorship. I felt extremely privileged to be able to tutor at UQ, since it allowed me to inspire students about how exciting biological science really is, and how important it is (and will be) for medicine and therapeutics. Teaching allowed me to empower my students to believe they could make novel contributions to their field if they chose to pursue a career in science.

Science Ambassador

Institute for Molecular Bioscience Ambassador program (August 2012 – July 2015)

ATSE Wonder of Science Young Science Ambassador

Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (March 2014 - March 2015)

  • The Wonder of Science program is directed at engaging with students in Years 6 - 9 to encourage their enthusiasm about and appreciation for science and technology.

  • I was priviledged to be selected to be part of this program, and got to visit schools in Dalby and Jandowae in the Darling Downs South West region in Queensland, where I developed exciting lessons for students that tied in with their curriculum, helped them with working on and presenting their own science projects based on this material, and was part of organizing a conference in Chinchilla for students to showcase their work.

President

Students of the Institute of Molecular Biosciences Student Association (SIMBA) (August 2011 – August 2012)

Mentor and Adviser

Club of Young Biologists, Moscow Zoo; Club of Young Biologists, Zvenigorod Biological Station, Lomonosov Moscow State University (Fall 2004 – December 2010)

  • Since the age of fifteen I have belonged to the Club for Young Biologists of the Moscow Zoo (CYBZ), a field biology group where middle and high school students get to travel all over national parks in Russia, assisting scientists with their research and conduction their own small studies. It is there, while developing a system for cataloging the club’s library, I stumbled upon a Soviet-era translation of Charlotte Auerbachs “Heredity: an Introduction for O-level Students” and “The Science of Genetics” – reading these books got me hooked on genetics and, later my interests broadened to include molecular and cell biology. CYBZ also led me to become involved in conservation and wildlife rehabilitation activities.

  • As a student in the club, though, I felt somewhat frustrated that the majority of the weekly lectures at the club focused on field botany and zoology, so several years later, after I had been accepted to Lomonosov Moscow State University, I went back and developed a lecture series for the middle and high school students in the club, to introduce them to the cell and molecular biology I had been so interested in. The lectures proved to be a success, and I was asked to give them at another of Moscow’s young adult biology clubs affiliated with the Zvenigorod Biological Station. This, in turn, led to me assist the Zvenigorod club with some of their other activities, including the Winter Biology School and Summer Biology Camp.

  • Overall, as part of my work with Moscow’s biology clubs, I’ve:

    • Developed an introductory lecture course in cellular and molecular biology for students at the clubs
    • Supervised field expeditions to Brianskiy Les, Malinki and Prioksko-Terrasniy Nature Preserves, where I served as an adviser for various student research projects
    • Supervised summer and winter camps in biology at the Zvenigorod Biological Station, helping promote conservation and awareness of sustainable management
    • Served as an adviser for student studies on cassowary biology in captivity at the Moscow Zoo and on algae biology at the Zvenigorod Biological Station

FONZ Volunteer

Friends of the National Zoo, Smithsonian National Zoological Park, Washington D.C. (Summer 2003 – Spring 2004)

  • I joined CYBZ in 2001, and when our family moved to the US I continued trying to educate people about how amazing science was, how important it was for conservation and environmental aware- ness. I volunteered at the National Zoo in Washington, where I worked as a guide in children’s programs at the zoo. I was involved in the “Summer Safari Day Camp”, a two-week program in which kids are taught about the animals that live at the zoo and in Washington’s suburbs, conser- vation and environmental awareness are promoted through zoo tours, trips to research stations, games, and arts and crafts activities; and in the “How Do You Zoo” program, designed to show children from financially disadvantaged neighborhoods in the District the different jobs required to run a zoo: the responsibilities of keepers, veterinarians, scientists and food preparation staff, and how one can pursue a career in these fields.