Teaching

My teaching approach centers on a equity and inclusion. I use a constructivist methodology that uses students’ diverse backgrounds to build new knowledge through inquiry. Every student I have taught is a scientist at heart. My goal is to unlock their inner scientists so they can explore and learn through curiosity and experimentation.

In 2023, I taught three courses in addition to my research.

EZO 32806 – Biomimetics with Guillermo Amador. This course challenged students to develop original biomimetic designs using theoretical and practical frameworks, engineering principles, and biological phenomena. The results were impressive and fun. Students gained skills in biomimetic theory, aero/hydrodynamics, dynamic scaling, biostructures and biomaterials, additive manufacturing, CAD, and much more.

EZO 21803 – Basic Principles of Vertebrate Zoology with Anneka Valk. This is an introductory course for students taking their first deep-dive into vertebrate anatomy, physiology, evolution, and ecology. I co-taught the practical labs where we dissected pigs as well as the lecture section on muscles and biomechanics.

EZO 30806 – Functional Zoology with Florian Muijres. Specifically, I taught about biological structures from an engineering perspective. This included subjects like free-body diagrams, flexural stiffness, ecomorphology, trade-offs, and empirically determining the Young’s modulus of a material using cantilever bending.

At the University of Puget Sound, I taught Physics 202 – Research in Nuclear Reactor Physics. In this course, we built a nuclear fusion reactor. This was a student-led, project-based course. You can learn more about it at www.upsreactor.com. We gained a lot of useful skills, ranging from how to use basic hand tools to welding aluminum to designing and building a ultra low-pressure vacuum system. Students demonstrated their knowledge through blog posts of their own choice and by building functional sub-systems of the reactor. It has been extremely rewarding to follow (and lead) these students through their learning experience.

In 2018-2019, I taught 6th grade science at Orting Middle School, a rural school with a significant population of high-needs students. We covered electromagnetism, biology, and climate & weather. In that time, I obtained my public secondary science teaching certificate. This experience taught me how to engage with students on a deeper level, earn their respect, and catalyze student achievement. It was a profound learning experience for me, and through it I became a much better educator.

At the university-level, I have taught Bio 160, Bio 171, and Bio 101 multiple times. These lab-based courses are the first and second semesters of the biology major, and allowed students to learn the basics of evolution, ecology, natural history, and experimental design. As the senior instructor for this course, I worked with the lecturer and new graduate student TAs to develop a curriculum that equitably served our undergraduate students through inquiry and experimentation.

Mentorship

Over the years, I have been extremely fortunate to mentor some amazing undergraduate scholars. Mentorship is one of my favorite aspects of scientific research. Each of the following students have completed a thesis or presented at a scientific conference under my guidance:

NameProject
Emily M.Aerodynamic consequences of wing morphing during flapping and gliding
Brian C.Phylogenetics and ecomorphology of emarginate primary feathers
Ho Kwan T.Phylogenetics and ecomorphology of emarginate primary feathers
Ben W.Aerodynamics of bird flight
Tia B.The effect of external flow on 3D orientation of a microscopic sessile suspension feeder, Vorticella convallaria
Does the environmental flow speed affect the local relative abundance of Vorticella convallaria?
Alessandra L.The effect of seed quantity and material density on dispersal from wet splash cup plants
Ella G.Morphologic differences in bird’s nest fungi as a predictor for dispersal behavior
Audrey H.The effect of peridiole shape on splash cup dispersal in bird’s nest fungi
Megan S.The effect of oscillatory flow on the orientation of Vorticella convallaria
Olivia D.How does the presence of water in a splash cup affect seed dispersal distance?
Tabo G.The influence of substrate compliance and hardness on suction-based adhesion in cuttlefish
Jonatan d. H.Biomimetic soft robots: Viscoelasticity of biological tissues and their synthetic counterparts
Gerline v. B.What is the function of the stiff ‘sucker ring’ in cuttlefish suckers?
Rutger L.Scaling of the adhesive stress of the Carausius morosus (Indian stick insect)
Benjamin K.Scaling of the adhesive stress of the Carausius morosus (Indian stick insect)
Daan v. d. B.The spatial distribution of collagen content in the European common cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis) lateral fins
Lara J.Finite element modeling and experimental validation of biomimetic suction cups using FEBio Studio
Matthew W.Characterizing the feeding flow of Vorticella convallaria via inline digital holography
Hannah S.Tracking Vorticella orientation in 3D
Ella S.Engineering an IEC fusion device
Ouyang D.Engineering an IEC fusion device
Joshua W.The effect of raindrop impact location on the dispersal
distance of splash cup plant seeds