"I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think."

-- Socrates


In most science classes, memorization of material is sufficient for students to pass. However, courses like these don’t help students retain information. Learning science should go beyond the textbook and invoke curiosity in the reader. From my practice as a pathologist studying brain cancer, I am constantly reading and absorbing knowledge from manuscripts for the purpose of translating that information into my own work or a tangible project. As students learn about biological concepts from textbooks, medically relevant publications will supplement their learning to highlight the contributions the topics bring to the course. By introducing real life examples of the literature, we take science beyond the dreary task of simple memorization in an impactful way.


To achieve my teaching goals, students will be taught in an active learning environment. Rather than have students fully engross themselves in the multitude of papers and textbooks, I encourage my students to take the knowledge they have acquired and apply it to problem-solving scenarios. Whether these conditions be hard-thought discussions or bench-top experiments, application of knowledge reinforces student learning. Furthermore, I focus on bridging textbook knowledge and primary research literature to fuel class discussions and develop research-based projects. These activities help students foster critical thinking and research skills. Promoting active learning and stimulating discussion transforms a traditionally didactic lecture course into an interactive and engaging experience.


My teaching experience comes from serving as a teaching assistant during an undergraduate biology lab course at Loyola University of Chicago. While at Loyola, I assisted in teaching the laboratory section for Comparative Biology. Throughout the course I guided sections of 18-20 students through animal dissections and assessed their understanding of the course through lab practical exams. Students that take this course are usually in their junior or senior year and many hope to pursue a career in medicine or environmental sciences. During my time as a PhD candidate at Duke, I have mentored both undergraduate and medical students. Under my mentorship, my students applied the knowledge they have acquired over their many years towards answering questions in the field of brain tumor immunotherapy. Along with fellow lab members, we taught our students lab techniques such as cell culture, animal handling, and many biological assays.

Professional Development

To supplement my experience as a teaching assistant, I have sought out other opportunities to advance my teaching ability. The Certificate for College Teaching (CCT) program at Duke helps me hone my skills and teaches me to become a more effective teacher through peer feedback and successful understanding of pedagogy. Courses such as Fundamental of College Teaching teaches those in the program methods of improving the student experience by increasing participation, using active learning techniques, and communicating course objectives through a well-written course syllabus. The course is taught in a workshop manner, allowing those in the program to fully grasp the techniques being taught and see how effective they can be. I have adapted what I have learned towards running journal clubs in my department. Rather than simply reading and talking about manuscripts, I prompt the participants with questions to think about critically that help form stimulating discussions as well as critiques for the paper. The experience and knowledge gained from being in the CCT program will further improve my development as a teacher.

Mentorship in the Laboratory

In addition to my teaching experience, I have mentored both undergraduate and graduate-level students one-on-one in a research lab environment. While students were in the lab, we focused on teaching four core aspects: 1) laboratory technique, 2) basic experimental knowledge, 3) evaluating experimental design and hypotheses, and 4) searching for and evaluating scientific literature. Through these four fundamentals, students can achieve the main learning objective of becoming independent scientists capable of critically thinking. To begin, I will give students demonstrations of lab techniques and have them take notes. After the demonstration, students review their notes and practice the techniques they are taught. From there, we take these learned skills and apply them to hands-on experiments. These experiments are developed through discussions between the student and I as well as reviewing scientific literature. I allow the student to pursue their interest in a specific project and keep myself available for questions. Student work slowly at the start with low-risk or proof of principle experiments and make their way to more technically challenging experiments. Finally, I train the students to apply what they have learned in their reading and experiments to formulate their own hypotheses and become more independent in their research.

Future Development

As I continue my growth in teaching, I intend to establish a foundation for my students to learn effectively and take what they have learned and apply it to their other studies. By introducing real-life topics into my teachings and providing hands-on lab experiences, I believe students will have the framework to better absorb knowledge and help them accomplish their goals in their scientific career. Students will have the basic understanding of scientific materials as well as the ability to formulate their own hypotheses and criticisms. Furthermore, I aim to improve my classes through self-reflection and feedback from my students. By being actively involved in a student’s learning through leading discussions, holding review sections, or providing one-on-one mentorship I know I can foster a learning environment that provides a value experience for all students.