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I currently teach two undergraduate courses related to infectious diseases:

  • Biology of Infectious Disease: From Molecules to Ecosystems (PLPPM 2950)
  • Infectious Disease Ecology and Evolution (PLPPM 4330)

Both courses are taught collaboratively with Prof. Eric Nelson using a “flipped classroom” approach with practically no lecturing. Instead, readings, videos, audios, tutorials and other out-of-class exercises prepare students for coming to class to discuss material they learn on their own. Class time is used for discussion and a variety of other student-centered interactive activities that reinforce their out-of-class learning. One of our goals is for students to learn how to read and understand primary research literature. Regular in-class discussion of research in the biology of infectious disease is done in small, structured-reading groups. Success with this teaching model has earned the two of us recognition in the form of the 2014 Innovative Teaching Award in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and the 2015 Excellence in Teaching Award from the American Phytopathology Society.

Biology of Infectious Disease: From Molecules to Ecosystems (PLPPM 2950)
Fall semester, 3 credits, co-taught with Eric Nelson

In this course we examine and discuss current concepts and trends in infectious disease biology, assessing our basic understanding of human, animal, and plant diseases and their impacts on one another. The nature of disease, the causal agents, host defense, mechanisms of transmission and strategies for management are remarkably similar among humans, animals, and plants. These basic principles that underpin all of disease biology are rarely integrated into a formal undergraduate or graduate course. Students think about and discuss infectious diseases in ways they have likely not thought about before and will hopefully come to appreciate the importance of a pathogen-centric view of disease in understanding human and environmental health.

Infectious Disease Ecology and Evolution (PLPPM 4330)
Fall semester, 3 credits, co-taught with Eric Nelson

Most students emerging from introductory biology courses have had little exposure to the ecological processes that influence and are influenced by infectious diseases. Furthermore, the typical preparation for medical and veterinary students focuses more heavily on the molecular, cellular, and organismal aspects of disease and rarely includes a broader scale focus on disease causation and management. An important aim of this course is to provide students with a broad and basic understanding of infectious disease ecology and evolution, and to provide that understanding within the context of a science-based learning format that fosters scientific curiosity, critical thinking, and an appreciation of scientific inquiry. An overarching goal in the course is to integrate principles of disease ecology and evolution across human, animal, and plant hosts and to highlight the commonalities and differences and explore the linkages among the three types of hosts.

small reading group

Small, structured-reading groups are a major component of these classes in which students learn how to read and interpret primary research literature.

students in cafe