Last Name


First Name


Department or Program Name

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Institution Name

Penn State University

PO box or mailstop

406 Althouse Lab


University Park





Postal Code




Primary student type

Undergraduate students – microbiology, clinical laboratory, or biotechnology majors

Introductory courses


Advanced courses

I teach a course that combines independent research with a student-driven seminar. The goal of this course is to fully integrate the practice of primary research with the acquisition of key concepts of the discipline, including the philosophy of science, central concepts and details of an experimental system, and the societal and ethical implications of research. I developed the course with a colleague and different sections are now being offered by groups of faculty with shared research interests. The section that I teach focuses on antibiotic resistance and development of new antibiotics. The course is taken on an ongoing basis by sophomores, juniors, and seniors.


Research question, hypotheses

The traditional approach to teaching science as a series of facts to be memorized does not reflect how science is actually practiced and discourages students from seeing science as a creative process that is related to the world around them, ultimately leading to attrition from science majors.
The research question that I am addressing is whether student learning is positively impacted by implementation of an inquiry-based approach (specifically designed to relate to student experiences and to require student engagement in the scientific method) in an introductory microbiology laboratory course. The research will focus on the effects of this approach on the ability of students to use the scientific method, increase critical thinking skills, and confidence in scientific skills.

Research type

How students improve or increase their skills OR decrease unwanted behaviors based on a learning experience (performance, behaviors, actions), How students change their feelings about abilities or intentions to continue in science based on a learning experience (efficacy, interest, motivation), How students differ based on how something is taught (student versus faculty-centered learning)

Impact of Research

Overall Experience