TEACHING SCHEDULE (SPRING 2017)

  • BIOL 3000: Biostatistics (large lecture, 141 students)

COURSES PREVIOUSLY TAUGHT

  • PHYS 1100: Physics I (Fall 2016)
  • PHYS 4920: Special Topics – Modern Statistical Data Analysis (Fall 2016)
  • BIOL 300: Biometrics (Spring 2016)
  • PHYS 443A: Biophysics (Spring 2016)

TEACHING PHILOSOPHY

Throughout my time as a student I benefited from, and more importantly, was inspired by the high quality of teaching from my instructors.  Teaching is something that I am truly passionate about, and it is the main reason I am a faculty member at Cal State LA.  (After all, you can go do research anywhere!)  I firmly believe that physics and biology courses offer the opportunity to not only educate and motivate students interested in pursuing those subjects, but also those interested more broadly in science, engineering, and medicine.  At an even more general level, science courses provide an opportunity to develop basic problem solving skills -- skills that are extremely valuable for any student who intends to be a critical thinker and active participant in society.

As a result of this outlook, the primary objective of my teaching is to ensure that every student becomes a confident problem solver. When students are able to decompose a problem into its most essential elements, select and apply the appropriate strategies and methods for solving it, and finally check the correctness of their solution in a rigorous manner, then I consider them to have mastered the material.  I believe that students are unlikely to develop strong problem solving skills by passively listening to me lecture.  Instead I feel that they can sharpen these skills and improve their own understanding of the material by solving problems collaboratively during class in the form of both short concept questions and longer group problems.  By doing this in the classroom environment, students are able to benefit both from my immediate feedback and guidance as a teacher and also from the diversity of knowledge and problem solving approaches shared among their peers.

Along with bolstering their analytic problem solving skills, I think it is likewise important for students to develop an intuitive sense of how complex systems behave. One manner in which I try to facilitate this is by requiring students to use numerical methods to solve problems that are very difficult or impossible to solve analytically. While learning how to solve problems numerically is a valuable skill in its own right, I have found that computers also offer students the chance to interact with physical and biological systems in a way that is substantively different from “paper-and-pencil” analytic solutions. For example, numerical techniques can be used to explore the behavior of various models of protein-ligand binding, orbits in central force potentials, or the time evolution of quantum wavefunctions. Computers enable students to readily visualize and analyze the complex behavior of such systems, and thus present a unique and valuable tool with which students can further strengthen their physical intuition and solve otherwise intractable problems.