Teaching and Training


Rigor, Reproducibility and Becoming an Effective Researcher (PHARM739): Starting in 2019, I began directing this course on the principles of rigor and reproducibility in research.

Molecular and Cellular Principles in Pharmacology (PHARM781): From 2018-2020, I directed this course focused on the foundations of pharmacology and cellular signaling.

Food, Fasting and Fitness: From 2017-2020, I taught in the ‘ForWard Medical School’ curriculum, discussing Human Metabolic Biochemistry and Endocrinology with ~180 medical students. My portion of the course covered hormone signaling and regulation, including hormone synthesis, hormone metabolism, and diseases resulting from dysregulation of hormone action..

Grant Writing (PHARM875): From 2016-2020, I taught this course focused on the practical aspects of grant writing, with a particular emphasis on writing a F31 predoctoral fellowship.

Comprehensive Human Biochemistry (BMC704): Between 2012-2015, I taught approximately one third of the lectures in this course designed for ~175 medical students (~15 lectures per year). My portion of the course covered hormone signaling and regulation, including hormone synthesis, hormone metabolism, and diseases resulting from dysregulation of hormone action. I also participated in the Problem Based Exercises (PBEs) that focus on Metabolism and Endocrinology, which were an integral portion of the course.

Exploring Biochemical Functions of Macromolecules (BMC710): Between 2011 and 2013, I taught 2 of the lectures in this 2-credit course geared toward graduate students in the IPiB program (although not limited to these students). My portion of the course covers mechanisms of vesicle biogenesis and membrane transport in eukaryotic cells.

Introduction to Human Biochemistry (BMC314): From 2009-2011, I taught approximately one half of the lectures in this 3-credit course designed for ~100 undergraduate students in the health professions. My portion of the course covered basic human metabolism, including glucose metabolism, fatty acid metabolism, and metabolic flux.

Microscopy of Life (BME619): Starting in 2013, I began teaching one lecture in this 3-credit, introductory level survey course. My lecture covers several microscopy-based approaches that we use in the lab to address key biological problems.

Responsible Conduct of Research for Biomedical Graduate Students (Obstetrics/Gynecology 955): Starting in 2014, I began teaching one lecture in this 2-credit, ethics course. My lecture focuses on ethical issues related to authorship and peer review.

Training Philosophy

Since starting my group in 2008, I have attempted to create an environment that is conducive to collaborative science. Reflecting this, our manuscripts typically have several authors and take advantage of numerous approaches. To define mechanism, I believe that one cannot depend entirely on a single methodology, and members of my lab work together to combine areas of expertise. My expectations for people in the lab are high, and I encourage creativity, productivity, and a willingness to take risks. The rationale for this is simple – I strongly believe that everyone in the lab is working for themselves, for their future, and not just for me. In this regard, positions in the lab should not be considered as jobs. Instead, they are opportunities to explore areas of common interest in a rigorous training environment. I maintain an open door policy, meaning that members of my lab can approach me at anytime, to discuss both successes and difficulties at the bench.

The training period in my lab ranges from 1-5 years. This is relatively short, but can vary significantly depending on the goals of the individual. My hope is to collaboratively define the set of experiments necessary to address one or a few key biological questions and then allow the graduate student or postdoctoral fellow freedom to further explore the problem as he or she desires. I believe this approach encourages creative thinking and independence, characteristics that are essential for any future position, regardless of whether it is in academia, industry, or an alternative venue.

We hold weekly group meetings in which one member of the lab presents recent data. Typically, this translates into a presentation once every 3 months, which is a good timepoint to gauge progress on research projects. In addition, I hold one-on-one meetings with all students and postdocs every 2 weeks. These meetings are sometimes as short as 5 minutes, but can extend to more than an hour, depending on the focus of the discussion, which ranges from work in the lab to dialogues on future career plans. Finally, given the breadth in the lab, I have found it useful to hold subgroup meetings every other week, where lab personnel that work on a specific area come together for discussion of collaborative work and/or recently published articles that may suggest new directions for research.

I encourage students and postdocs to write fellowship applications. This serves multiple purposes – providing opportunities to develop critical writing skills, reviewing the literature thoroughly, and supporting the lab so that we can use resources most effectively. In many cases, these exercises can lead to the synthesis of a review article that nicely puts into context the work being pursued. I also encourage members of the lab to attend scientific conferences, where they can present their data (improving communication skills) and obtain important feedback for future studies. Finally, I support the development of mentoring skills, which usually takes the form of recruiting undergraduate students to work together with graduate students or postdocs. I believe this form of training is highly important (both for the mentor and the mentee).