Uricchio lab @Tufts

Tufts courses

Teaching philosophy

I see teaching as a cooperative venture between instructors and students -- we have so much we can learn and accomplish together! My courses emphasize science as a process, and I invite students to participate in that process by obtaining, analyzing, and discussing data. When students are truly engaged, they can often challenge my own thinking and stimulate new ideas.

One of the greatest challenges in engaging students in computational and mathematical biology is math anxiety. Many students in biology classrooms experience negative emotions when mathematical material is introduced. I suffer from a certain degree of math anxiety myself. As an IRACDA postdoc, I learned how math anxiety may be exacerbated by the under-representation of many groups in science. Students who identify as members of under-represented groups may feel excluded (and have often been excluded historically). They may not identify as mathematically capable, regardless of their abilities. How then to engage as many students as possible, and more importantly, how do we make our classrooms equitable?

I combine evidence-based teaching approaches -- such as active learning and backwards design -- with much discussion of the social aspects of science to achieve greater equity in my classrooms. I'm always working to improve my approach, but essentially I try to build bridges between scientific questions (e.g., we see different allele frequencies in these populations, why might that be?) and mathematical analysis tools (e.g., let's make a model for genetic drift and see if it's consistent with this data). I am also trying to highlight contemporary scientists using quantitative approaches to illuminate diversity in science.

Previous courses and symposia

  1. San Jose State University
  2. Stanford University
    • Postdoc pedagogy summer workshop, originator and co-designer. I designed a summer workshop about evidence-based teaching for Stanford postdocs along with Whitney Heavner. We proposed our symposium to the Stanford Teaching and Mentoring Academy, and we were lucky enough to obtain a small grant to bring in some teacher-scholars to run these sessions. Some slides about our approach can be found here. You can read about our sessions below.
    • Guest lecturer, Evolution (BIO 85), 2016 and 2017. Presented on complex traits and selection (slides here).

    • High school outreach. I helped organize an outreach program for a group of pre-college students in Sequoia High School's AVID program. You can find a newsletter that I wrote for the event here.
    • Stanford Biocore exploration. I designed a short, active course along with Alison Feder for undergraduates in Stanford's introductory biology sequence. The students learned about selection on complex traits, and implemented some simulations and data-analysis to assess the evidence for selection on human height using genetic data. Some slides can be found here.

    • Stanford Postdoc Pedagogy Journal Club. Stanford has a monthly meeting for postdocs interested in pedagogy to discuss papers on evidence-based teaching topics. I led sessions on stereotype threat and diagnostic assessments.

  3. UCSF and UC Berkeley
    • Graduate Student Instructor, Introduction to computational biology (BIOE 131/231, UCB), 2013.
    • Graduate Student Instructor, Computational evolutionary genomics (BMI 208, UCSF)

  4. Carleton College
    • Teaching assistant, tutor, and grader. Introduction to Physics, Classical and Computational Mechanics, and Contemporary Experimental Physics