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Teaching Occurs in Many Settings

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Third-year graduate microbiology student Rachel Whitaker experienced teaching and learning in many settings. During her first year as a graduate student, she was one of many graduate student instructors (GSIs) for Biology 1A , a large class with more than 500 students and 22 lab and discussion sections. On the other extreme, she was a GSI for the upperdivision General Microbiology Lab, where there were eight students; for this work, she received a Daniel I. Arnon Teaching Scholar Award.

“Teaching Micro lab was completely different from Biology 1A. Since it was the first time that class had been taught, we had to be flexible and creative, and because the class was small, we could be,” said Whitaker.

She has found that teaching occurs in a variety of locations, including in the lab. Currently, she is working in Professor John Taylor’s lab, studying the process of evolution in thermophilic species of microbes.

“John is very open to answering questions or discussing results. I talk to him mostly about the larger concepts and analyses of data. The post-docs in the lab do most of the day-to-day teaching on how to design experiments and make them work.

“Graduate school is a different, much more personalized kind of teaching, because it is all driven by my own curiosity and needs,” she said.

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