Harvard University - Department of Molecular & Cellular Biology


  Laura Magnotti
Advisor: Neuroscience Concentration
Course:MCB 170 - Brain Invaders: Building and Breaking Barriers in the Nervous System
Course Head: Laura Magnotti
Office Hours:By Appointment
Location:Biolabs 1082C
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Personal Statement:

"I have an undergraduate degree in Biological Basis of Behavior and History and Sociology of Science from the University of Pennsylvania. I then came to Harvard to complete a PhD in Neurobiology and never left. As a graduate student, I studied gap junctional intercellular communication between oligodendrocytes and astrocytes and its role in the formation and maintenance of myelin. Since then, I've switched gears, and I'm now working with a novel source of adult neural stem cells and trying to understand their differentiation potential and investigate possible therapeutic applications.

My job as preceptor is quite a bit different than most other preceptors, which illustrates the flexibility of the position. Instead of being part of a large lecture course, my primary responsibility is to serve as one of the two academic advisors for undergraduate students who are concentrating in Neurobiology. I think that just illustrates the flexibility of the preceptor position. The way I see it, preceptors have a passion for teaching and try to bring new energy and new ideas to the classroom in whatever capacity they're needed.

One appealing aspect of becoming a preceptor was that the title sounds like a part of the Harry Potter universe. Other than that, I was really excited by the idea of working directly with undergraduates on a daily basis. As a preceptor, the bulk of my time is spent as an academic advisor for the ~230 undergraduate Neurobiology concentrators here at Harvard. It's a really fantastic experience to watch these students as they work towards their goals and accomplish some amazing things along the way. I'm just happy that they let me along for the ride!

I have also designed and taught two courses of my own. The first was a Neurobiology tutorial (Neurobio 95hfp) called Designer Neurons: How Cell Types are Generated in the Nervous System and the Laboratory. The main goal of this course was to teach the students how to read and analyze primary literature. To accomplish this, we explored the current state of knowledge about the role of stem cells in nervous system development as well as how we can use that knowledge in the lab for therapeutic purposes. This year, I will be teaching a new course (MCB 170) called Brain Invaders: Building and Breaking Barriers in the Nervous System. In this course, the students will learn about the defense systems that the nervous system has in place to keep out invaders, ways in which various pathogens have evolved to breach those defenses, and how we can translate those mechanisms to the lab."

Outside of the classroom/lab, you can usually find me at the pottery studio, paddling on a dragon boat, or traveling around the world. I also enjoy outdoor activities (hiking, camping, etc.), reading, baking, and cheese making. The rest of my time is spent trying to survive as a Yankee fan in the middle of Red Sox territory.

  Julie Roden
Course:MCB 52: Molecular Biology
Course Heads: Professor Briana Burton, Tom Torello
MCB 60 - Cellular Biology and Molecular Medicine (New for Fall 2014)
Office Hours:Mondays 11:00am - 12:00pm
Location:Northwest Labs B-135.2
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Personal Statement:

I am a native New Englander, born and raised in Masssachusetts. After finishing my undergraduate degree in Biochemical Sciences here at Harvard in 2000, I headed west to Stanford. My Ph.D. work, completed in the lab of Dr. Mary Beth Mudgett in 2006, focused on understanding a bacterium, Xanthomonas axonopodis pv. vesicatoria, which causes bacterial spot disease in pepper and tomato plants. After postdoctoral research studying Bartonella henselae, which causes cat scratch disease in humans, with Dr. Jane Koehler at the University of California, San Francisco, I returned to Massachusetts. I spent 3 years as a visiting professor at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA, teaching courses in introductory biology, microbiology, biochemistry, and cell biology.

I am excited to come back to Harvard to work as a preceptor for MCB 52: Molecular Biology, a course I took as an undergraduate (when it was still called BS 10). My main role in the course is to coordinate and run a discovery-based lab series in which undergraduates discover and characterize proteins that interact with the tumor suppressor protein p53. Throughout the semester, students learn standard molecular biology techniques while potentially discovering something novel about p53. We also teach students to immerse themselves in the scientific literature through reading, writing, and oral presentations. As a preceptor for this course, I train the graduate students who teach the lab sections, help to design and write assessments, and test out new experiments we are considering adding to the course in the future. I am lucky to be able to collaborate on my work in MCB 52 with Professors Briana Burton and Tom Torello, and a team of fantastic teaching fellows.

  Casey Roehrig
Course:Life and Physical Sciences A (LPS A)
Course Heads: Professor Tamara Brenner, Professor Gregory Tucci
Life Sciences 1b (Ls1b)
Office Hours:Mondays 10:00 am-11:30 am
Wednesdays 12:30pm -2:00pm
Location:Science Center 412
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Personal Statement:

"I attended New York University, where I earned a Bachelor’s degree in Biology. While there, I first became interested in developmental biology while working in the lab of Dr. Philip Benfey studying the regulation of cell growth in the roots of Arabidopsis thaliana. I then worked in the lab of Dr. Fabio Piano, studying early embryonic development in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans and related species.

I entered the Harvard MCB department’s graduate program in 2004, and joined Dr. Craig Hunter's lab to study the development of C. elegans. My graduate work looked at the establishment and maintenance of cell fates during embryogenesis. Throughout my graduate career, I enjoyed teaching, and was involved in courses in Harvard College, the Extension School, and also with the MCB Outreach program. I enjoyed getting to work with a variety of different students as they explored their developing interest in the life sciences and encountered new ideas and experiences.

My enjoyment of teaching led me to the LS1b Preceptor position after I graduated, as its focus on genetics, genomics, and evolution mirrors my own background and interests. I enjoy developing new labs and activities that reinforce the core concepts during the discussion sections. For the past three years, I have also worked on similar projects with LPS A, which teaches the fundamentals of biology and chemistry to introductory students.

As a preceptor, I spend much of my time planning the weekly sections for LPS A and LS1b. This includes troubleshooting and refining the labs (or sometimes developing new ones), and writing problems and activities to help students learn the material. When students actively engage with the material, they are more excited to learn and also learn it better, so I try to include as many interactive and student-centered learning experiences as possible. The most rewarding part of my job, though, is working with students – I run weekly reviews for the biology portion of LPS A and for LS1b, helping students learn to apply the concepts that they hear about in lecture to different types of problems and scientific questions. I also enjoy holding office hours, which give me an opportunity to work one-on-one or with small groups of students at a time."

  Martin Samuels
Course:Life Sciences 1a (Ls1a)
Course Heads: Professor Daniel Kahne, Professor Rich Losick, Professor Rob Lue
MCB 54 - Cell Biology
Course Heads: Professor Vlad Denic, Professor Rob Lue
Office Hours:Thursdays 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm
or By Appointment
Location:Biolabs 1090
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Personal Statement:

"Rosa Veguilla and I are both preceptors for Life Sciences 1a, a fall term introductory course (450ish students) that integrates biology and chemistry to teach how the concepts from each discipline can help solve some of the worlds' most pressing problems, including HIV and cancer.

As a preceptor, I help write the class's course material (problem sets, section activities, lab exercises, and exams), hold office hours and tutor students individually or in groups, and help keep the course's large teaching staff in touch and coordinated.

As an undergraduate, I went to the University of Chicago before coming to MCB for graduate school, where I used structural biology (i.e., X-ray crystallography) and biochemistry to study DNA replication and repair.

I applied to become a preceptor because I loved teaching as both a graduate student and as an undergraduate. Interacting with students is far and away the best part of my job. Helping someone to understand a concept though posing questions and asking them to draw reactions or mechanisms on a board is enormously rewarding. I'm a big fan of the Socratic method, twisted a bit to be applicable to biochemistry."

  Rosa Veguilla
Course:Life Sciences 1a (Ls1a)
Course Heads: Professor Daniel Kahne, Professor Rich Losick, Professor Rob Lue
Office Hours:Fridays 5:30pm - 7:30pm
or By Appointment
Location:Biolabs 1075
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Personal Statement:

"My full name is Rosa Angélica Veguilla Rosado, the youngest daughter of Rosa Rosado and Luis Veguilla. I grew up in Caguas, Puerto Rico with the melodic sound of the coquí, a Puerto Rican frog, and the traditional summer vacations at the beach. As a kid, while my mom tried to teach me how to cook rice and beans, I always had a great curiosity about why and how things happened. To satisfy that inner curiosity I started the study of Natural Sciences and completed a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry and Math at the University of Puerto Rico – Río Piedras in 2006.

Seven years ago I decided to leave sunny, warm Puerto Rico and join the MCB department to do my PhD. Here in Boston I made great friends with whom I share the love of dancing and arguing (and perhaps some slight geekiness). I did my thesis research project in David Fisher’s laboratory where I studied the regulation of pro-opiomelanocortin protein in human keratinocytes of different skin colors and the relevance of this to tanning and cancer prevention. Cancer research has a huge impact in the society where new drugs and new understanding at the molecular level are helping people to fight this disease. It is rewarding for me to know that my work may one day help someone battling with this disease.

Throughout my undergraduate and graduate studies, I have been continuously involved in teaching. As an undergrad, I tutored my peers and took classes in pedagogy, where I had the opportunity to work on curriculum development for a high school math class. I worked as a teaching fellow for Molecular and Cellular Biology 52 (2007 and 2008) and Life Sciences 1a (2010 and 2011) at Harvard University, where I had the opportunity to further polish my teaching skills. These experiences made me realize that in my career I wish to combine research with teaching. I enjoy helping students to understand new concepts in the biology world and motivating them to love science as I do and it was one the main reasons why I applied to the preceptor position at Harvard. My experience as a preceptor has only intensified my love towards teaching as the best part of my job is the interactions with the students.

My job as a preceptor for Life Sciences 1a, which I share with Martin Samuels, includes doing curriculum development for the class, host office hours as well as review sections. Also we take care of all of the logistics behind hiring and training the staff of teaching fellows and facilitators. But the most important part of the job is the interaction with the students and the time that we spend with them exchanging ideas and providing scientific advice.

In addition to teaching and research, I love to dance and listen to music. I like any Latin dance (salsa, merengue, ect.). I equally enjoy a night of dancing or a relaxing night reading a book. I love to read novels, especially by Isabel Allende. Spending time with family and friends is the best way to end a hard working day!"