Research Summary: I am a current Education Mentor of the National Academy of Science, and a 2015 Service Learning Faculty Fellow at the University of Connecticut. I am also an Assistant Director of Faculty Development Programs at the Center for Excellence in Teaching in Learning (CETL) at UConn. Over the course of my career I have taught many courses ranging from small (19+), to large (100+), to very large (400+). My interest in the scholarship of teaching led to me being selected to become an Education Fellow of the National Academy of Science and an attendee of the 2015 Summer Institute on Undergraduate Education. This provided me with specialized training and resources to implement active learning pedagogies in my classes, which I am now hoping to share with any interested colleagues. I am continuously seeking creative ways to engage students in and out of the classroom, and opportunities to blend my teaching pedagogy with my other passions – science literacy and public engagement.
One avenue of interest is the service learning pedagogy, which has been widely used outside of STEM disciplines, but infrequently within. The goal for my courses, particularly PNB3120W, is to allow students apply their knowledge and skill sets for the benefit of their communities. To date, students in my service learning course have worked with the UConn community, basic research faculty, as well as domestic and internationally focused non-profit organizations. I am now studying if and how the service learning pedagogy impacts student learning outcomes and retention in STEM.
In the laboratory, my research focuses on scaffolding proteins, which bring together enzymes and substrates in specific intracellular locations. The precise relay of extracellular messages to intracellular targets is a basic prerequisite for life. Despite a myriad of signals outside the cell, the information directing changes in cellular physiology and function is carried by a comparatively small complement of intracellular enzymes. The exact mechanisms by which these signaling molecules achieve the necessary specificity are still unclear, but aberrant signaling through these common pathways underlies the onset and progression of every known disease. By creating intracellular microenvironments, scaffolding proteins allow cells to make specific decisions using common enzymes.