Ph.D. Candidate using Molecular Dynamics simulations to study the structure, function, and mechanism of proteins. Passionate about science communication, mental health, and making higher education more accessible to all communities.
My first goal every semester is to create an inclusive environment so every student feels comfortable, regardless of age, race, ethnicity, nationality, sex, gender identity, sexuality, or disability. It is an unfortunate fact that higher education, and chemistry specifically, suffer from the ‘leaky pipeline’, in which people from underrepresented backgrounds are pushed out of the field, be it from discomfort, harassment, isolation, or more harmful policies. Growing up as a queer person of color, and being the first in my family to go to college, studying science didn’t seem possible until a few professors reached out and showed their confidence in me. Now, I want to continue the process for my students every chance I get. There has been plenty of research showing the importance of inclusivity and comfort of students in their academic performance. To achieve this, I have attended workshops and trainings in inclusivity to improve my own understanding of different backgrounds and perspectives. In the classroom, this takes multiple forms; on a “simpler” level, beginning every semester by introducing myself, including my own background and identities and my preferred name and pronouns. In this way, I hope students recognize not only my own intersectionality, but also that I am comfortable talking about these things and that they can be comfortable talking to me about them. Additionally, by surveying students early on, I can determine what they need from me to give them the best chance possible at succeeding in the class, and when providing additional resources (i.e. online readings or videos) I can ensure they come from a diverse group of creators who probe the material in different ways and at different starting levels of understanding. And lastly, asking for feedback regularly, and updating my practices accordingly, to show I recognize that every group of students is unique and I cannot use the same methods and material every semester.
Through improving feelings of inclusivity in the classroom, and with additional practices, I also hope to improve student engagement in lectures and in-class activities. It’s well known how important student involvement is in their own learning and in their comfort on a university campus. To this end, I have and will continue to provide students multiple ways to engage with the me, the material, and each other. While the “ideal” scenario would be for all students to attend every class and actively participate every time, there are many reasons why they might not be able to: outside responsibilities keeping them away, personal health struggles, needing additional time to process material before being comfortable with it, or even just discomfort and anxieties about in-class participation. Because of this, all lecture notes are made available virtually, before the class starts so students can review it ahead of time and prepare any questions they have. Also streaming and recording every class section, with captions and transcripts available, so any student who cannot physically be in the classroom can still have the same experience, and can send messages in real time if needed. And lastly, office hours are greatly encouraged, and always flexible in days, times, and modalities to reach every student possible.
My final goal in teaching, especially at the university level, is for every student to feel like they gained something useful out of the class. Most of them probably won’t need to remember the equations for calculating enthalpy or reaction kinetics after they finish their degrees, and that inevitably leads to questions of why they’re learning it now, or why this class is necessary for them to take. Because of this, I believe it’s always important to remind students of the bigger picture takeaways. Showing them that by completing the assignments they’re also learning skills in problem solving, time management, and the ability to communicate complex concepts in a way that their fellow classmates and us as instructors will understand, among others. Encouraging students to talk about the class to non-chemistry friends and family I believe really helps them grasp this idea, as they have to not only explain the concepts themselves, but relate it to the outside world in order to prove its importance. Additionally, in future classes I lead, I plan to always incorporate at least one project in which they take an issue facing the world today, and relate it back to the concepts we are studying in class.
My primary role in this course was to supervise and assist students as they performed weekly chemistry experiments. This included preparing for the lab each week in the form of ensuring necessary supplies were provided, and aiding the Instructor of Record in the preceding workshop where we guided the students through the concepts that would be covered during the experiment and had them complete relevant sample calculations. I was responsible for grading each students workshop calculations and lab reports each week, and hosted office hours to assist them as needed. Additionally, after noticing students were struggling with portions of the lab reports that required Excel, I began to offer an additional evening or weekend workshop to cover the basic functions and ensure all students were comfortable with the program.
My role in this course was to assist the Instructor as needed with preparing exams or other course materials. I additionally set up a weekly open review session, where students could drop by and ask for help as they studied or worked through the homework. For these sessions I would prepare worksheets with sample problems that I could work through with them, and I’d provide a brief review lecture if needed.
As the graduate teaching assistant, I hosted once weekly review sessions, with the primary goal of assisting the students with their homework assignments. However, as the concepts covered in these courses can be quite dense, I incorporated a brief (30-40 minute) lecture covering any relevant topics, before going through the homework problems and assisting them with the math involved in solving each. Additionally, I graded all homework assignments, assisted in grading the midterm exams, and hosted weekly office hours.
My role in this course is to assist students with the practical knowledge needed to carry out computational chemistry calculations, as most of them are inexperienced in this field. Once weekly, I meet with the students and review the material covered in the main lecture before leading them through the softwares and techniques necessary for their homework assignments and final project. As the semester progresses and they begin working on the larger research project, I will also assist in the proposal, experimental design, data collection, and final presentation, as needed.
My role in this course was to teach the once weekly class of “First Time Full Time” freshman students over a campus-wide curriculum. We covered topics useful to new university students, including student success, mental health, time management, etc. Additionally, I served as a liaison between the students and the campus at large, helping them to find resources, and connecting them with different on-campus offices and departments.
As an undergraduate teaching assistant, in this course I primarily helped with evaluating students’ assignments and in-class participation as they read and analyzed Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. At the end of the semester, the students also had to give a presentation to the entire freshman student body on a real-world example of the concepts covered. I assisted the students in preparing their presentations, providing feedback as they went, and scored each student’s presentation at the end.
Each semester, the instructor of record for the course(s) I was assisting for would provide a performance review. They were asked to rate (on a scale from strongly
disagree to strongly agree) how I performed in the following areas:
Dependable: The TA works closely with his/her supervisor to carry out assigned tasks.
Interpersonal Relations:The TA behaves in a professional manner that is respectful of others’ ideas and opinions.
Responsiveness: The TA provides students with feedback that is constructive and effective.
Compliance: The TA consistently follows program/department, school, and university regulations.
Attendance & Punctuality: The TA is present and on time for work, meetings, and scheduled events, with any absences scheduled and reported well in advance.
Academic Honesty: The TA maintains and enforces standards of academic honesty and integrity.
Records: The TA maintains all records pertinent to his or her assignments.
Brought attention to issues the first-year PhD students were facing and worked to plan a “Qualifying Exam Q&A Session” and “Wellness Focus Group”
Helped to restart the organization after it had shut down during the pandemic.
Organized a series of flash talks by graduate students and faculty members to introduce first year PhD students to the different research labs and on-campus resources.
Aided in the campus-wide mercury thermometer exchange to remove unnecessary hazardous materials from research and teaching labs.
Helped organize and moderate the ACS DFW Meeting in Miniature, a local meeting where chemistry students from around north Texas can present their research and meet students from other universities.
Performed and organized several outreach talks and events:
Expanded the orientation events aimed at the incoming PhD students by incorporating additional social events, talks with current graduate students and faculty, and campus tours.
Developed and organized a monthly series of Professional Development events for graduate students.
Performed and organized several outreach talks and events:
sci-MI is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization with the aim of bridging the opportunity gap in scientific research by
providing a free, fully online, summer research course available to high school students worldwide.
2022-2023: Grants & Communications Director
Developed and organized the back end operations, creating methods to easily share and communicate with volunteers and board members nationwide.
Created Standard Operation Procedure for finding, accurately describing, and applying for funding opportunities.
Assisted in the creation and dissemination of curriculum information for the summer programs.
Aided in efforts to improve the diversity in staff and students, and highlighted this information for recruitment efforts
Designed and implemented marketing and branding strategies to aid in recruitment and fundraising efforts