During my senior year of high school, I was enrolled in a Bio II class that mostly focused on genetics. During one particular lecture on cloning my teacher mentioned how it was possible to give birth to ones own clone. What? I thought. Surely I heard wrong. But no, my teacher had meant what she said the first time. The idea was daydreamed about, romanticized even. I was hooked, and ever since then I have been truly fascinated by science.

I know that for a lot of students the subjects of science and math aren’t appealing to study. As naive as it may sound, I hope to change that for my students when I become a teacher. I have a strong interest in secondary science and math education in particular. This blog will keep track of the ideas I have thus far to help capture the imagination of my future students and to try and introduce them to an appreciation of  science and math.

Having plants and animals in the classroom giving students “duties” to water and feed them

Reading books to students during class (science and math themed)

Sustained Silent Reading, once again science and math themed, inclusion of magazines as well

Monthly field trips, an example of field work (creativity is important here, many will take place on campus, some can be walking to nearby parks etc., one big one  that needs a bus)

Many guest speakers throughout the year

Careers in science!!!! (even if they don’t go on to have careers that are science related, having a good science background and critical thinking skills will be beneficial in many other careers and decision making!)

Mandatory Questions, I want to have a rule where my students have to ask AT LEAST 3-5 questions on a concept before we can move on. There have been so many times in my experience where the entire class is lost and the teacher asks if there are any questions and no one says a thing. Who knows, this has high potential for backfire.

My strategy is to keep students on their toes so they have little time to get bored with the same classroom routine, but at the same time I don’t want to overwhelm them with too much going on, not all of us have ADD. Also, I know that many of the above methods are used in elementary school settings with students (feeding the animals, being read to etc.). I hope not to come across as patronizing and as babying my students. These are just activities that make the classroom and the learning experience more hands on and diverse.

1 July 2011

Last night I dreamt that I had my own class and classroom, and that I was teaching. I had already graduated and had my teaching degree/certificate. I was so grown up in my dream. I was teaching high school algebra. It took place on the first day of school, went well, slightly idealistic. Premonition?

This blog comes from inspiration left over from Evo 2011. 

My grad mentor and I have decided it is time for me to tackle my own side project branching off of her graduate dissertation concerning the phyloeography of the shrew, deer mouse, and vole. My project will be to try and clear up the confusion and question of the Dusky Shrew and its complex taxonomic classification. Using mitochondrial DNA, morphology, previously collected data, and the geographical location of the Shrew, I hope to clarify where certain species of the Shrew belong in a taxonomic context. This blog will follow my progress on my research. I am hoping to gather/organize enough data to present my findings at UNM’s Research Symposium Aug 12 as well as the National SACNAS conference held in San Jose, California  in October. I am also working hard to present a poster at next years Evo Conference 2012 in Ottawa, Canada!

Progress: 1 July 2011

Wow,  a week goes by fast. So far my mentor and I have conducted Morphological T-tests, Haplotype Networks, and various Distribution Maps that all support 2, possibly 3 different species of Sorex monticolus. Looking at five physical characteristics of the Shrew- ear length, total body length, hind foot length, mass, and tail length- we found that there is a significant difference between Shrews who live in coastal regions compared to Shrews that live in Northern regions. Our Haplotype Network visually shows three genetically distinct groups of Shrews. Distribution maps also show separate regions where the Shrews live, with some overlap. We’re still waiting for a few different phylogenetic trees to be completed. NOTE: The DNA we have been using to run the analyses is solely Mitochondrial DNA, specifically the protein coding Cyt. B gene. Using nuclear DNA would be the next step if we wanted to confirm our potentially different species.

On another note, concerning background information gathering, I have come across a particular paper that more or less summarizes the importance of this project.

http://www.pnas.org/content/105/suppl.1/11564.short

John C. Avise seems to share my passion for educating people of all ages of the importance of biodiversity. He says it best when he states that there is,  ” …a grand mission for molecular genetics and the other biodiversity sciences in conservation efforts: to cultivate in students of all ages a sense of awe, respect, and appreciation for the numerous other creatures–including the charismatically challenged–that share our crowded and imperiled planet.

19 July 2011

I have found another paper that I believe describes in much detail the implications this project has on biodiversity. 

Speciation in Mammals and the Genetic Species Concept by Robert J. Baker and Robert D. Bradley 

http://www.asmjournals.org/doi/abs/10.1644/06-MAMM-F-038R2.1


Who knew that in five species of male black widow spiders, testicles and sperm count of these animals slowly shrink over time? 

Who knew that in comparing bats and humming birds  as the best pollinators, flowers choose bats over hummingbirds?

Who knew that there is presently a battle going on in America’s educational system concerning teaching the Theory of Evolution vs. Intelligent Design?

I didn’t. That was until five days ago. 

Being a very fortunate undergrad, I was lucky enough to attend Evolution 2011, a 6 day conference drawing biologists from all over the country who study everything from, as you read above, spider testicles to biology in the classroom.  The 6 days spent at Evo 2011 were filled with a great meeting of new friends and colleagues, visions for research, high-profile networking opportunities, inspiration to continue on into graduate school, oh, and did I mention science celebrities? Yes, you heard right, science celebrities. Scientific journalist, blogger, writer, and personality Carl Zimmer was able to make it to this year’s conference. I will never forget the star struck feeling of conversing with Carl Zimmer about how the art of journalism has changed over the years. Being able to see the hard work of biologists (undergrads, grad students, post-docs, and faculty) come together at a meeting of the minds was a college experience never to forget. I hope that next year I can contribute to this community with my own research and presentation. Darwin lovers unite! 

About Me

June 13, 2011

  • Undergraduate Sophomore at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque
  • Major: Biology, Minor: Chemistry 
  • Interests in Bio: Conservation, Ecology, Genetics, Animal Behavior and Development, Biodiversity, Science Education and Outreach, Phylogeography
  • Other Interests: Human Population Growth, Philosophy, Dancing (all forms), Reading, Browsing Books at Barnes & Noble, Movie Watching,  A Good Conversation with Good Company, Traveling, Breaking a Sweat, Board Games, Enjoying Food… 

Sampling Creme Brulee

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