Teaching & Mentoring

I have a strong passion for facilitating the success of others. I take my job as a professor and mentor very seriously. I don’t think you can teach anybody anything, however. You can work to facilitate learning but the actual learning itself is an active, personal process. My teaching experiences have been predominately in neuroscience, neurophysiology, physiology, and biomechanics. In my undergraduate teaching I integrate current research with the topics we are covering. I work to get across the concepts and background about the science and experiments that were conducted to solidify understanding of the principles. I also try to imbue my lectures with content that can be explored with examples of problem solving and application. Many of these include pop-culture examples form movies and television shows. This helps answer the challenge that is often experienced when trying to make aspects of a subject like basic physiology topical and of interest to students; I take pains to come up with relevant examples of mechanisms or application in the media.

My philosophy for graduate teaching is similar, but relies much more on student-driven interaction. That is, I focus much of the material in graduate courses on student presentations and assignments. I believe strongly that students must always be both encouraged and provided with experiences to directly enhance their communication skills as this is a fundamental part of research.

In summary, I look at teaching as an extension of the underlying responsibility that all researchers have; that of disseminating information. As such, I take this responsibility very seriously and pursue excellence in this regard with the same rigour as in my research efforts. I think this needs to be taken a few steps further, though, and help provide a framework that is linked to experiences students already have. In fact, my sincere desire to communicate the wonder of science through teaching and mentoring spurred me to write my recent popular science books, Becoming Batman: The Possibility of a Superhero, and Inventing Iron Man: The Possibility of a Human Machine.