Harvard University - Department of Molecular & Cellular Biology

MEET THE MCB PRECEPTORS

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  Aaron Garner
Course:Life Sciences 1a (Ls1a)
Course Heads: Professor Daniel Kahne, Professor Rich Losick, Professor Rob Lue, Professor Susan Mango
Email:ragarner@fas.harvard.edu
Office Hours:Office Hours: Wednesday 3:00 – 5:00 and Friday 11:00 – 1:00
Location:Biolabs 1090
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Personal Statement:

I attended North Carolina State University where I triple majored, earning my Bachelor’s degrees in Chemistry, Biological Sciences, and Botany. As an undergraduate I worked in the lab of Prof. Jeff Yoder, where I worked to develop tools to spatially and temporally regulate gene expression in zebrafish.

I attended graduate school in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard University beginning in 2008. I worked with Prof. Dan Kahne, and my doctoral work focused on the essential two-protein complex LptD/E that is required for the trafficking of lipopolysaccharide (LPS), an essential glycolipid found in Gram-negative bacteria, to its position in the outer membrane. The first part of my doctoral thesis focused on the elucidation of the oxidative assembly pathway by which LptD and LptE assemble into a uniquely arranged complex, and the second part involved the determination of the LptD/E x-ray crystal structure.

Together with Martin Samuels, I work as a preceptor for Life Sciences 1a. My job involves curriculum development, holding office hours, and working with the students and teaching staff to ensure that the course runs smoothly and efficiently.

My teaching philosophy has been heavily influenced by my work with Life Sciences 1a, and as such, I feel that the course and its design embody what I feel are the most important aspects of effective teaching. The primary mission of Life Sciences 1a is to get students excited about science. We emphasize big-picture concepts and new ways of thinking; we would rather our students learn to think scientifically than memorize a series of facts. We have structured our course around a clearly defined set of goals and objectives which we transparently present to the students. Each component of the course is designed to build towards these goals to create a streamlined, coherent curriculum. Lastly, Life Sciences 1a is adaptable and willing to change. We adjust and refine our course each year, as we realize that there is always room for improvement.


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  Laura Magnotti
Advisor: Neuroscience Concentration
Course:MCB 170 - Brain Invaders: Building and Breaking Barriers in the Nervous System
Course Head: Laura Magnotti
Phone:617-496-2432
Email:magnotti@fas.harvard.edu
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.


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  Diren Pamuk Turner
Course:MCB 63 – Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine
Course Heads: Professor Rachelle Gaudet, Senior Lecturer Alain Viel
MCB 64 – The Cell Biology of Human Life in the World
Course Head: Professor Rob Lue
MCB 65 – Physical Biochemistry: Understanding Macromolecular Machines
Course Heads: Professor Rachelle Gaudet, Professor Andres Leschziner
MCB 68 – Cell Biology Through the Microscope
Course Heads: Professor Ethan Garner, Professor Jeff Lichtman
Phone:617-384-9468
Email:pamukturner@fas.harvard.edu
Office Hours:TBD
Location:Northwest Labs B-135.20
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  Julie Roden
Course:MCB 60 - Cellular Biology and Molecular Medicine
Course Heads: Professor Briana Burton, Professor Vlad Denic, Professor Alexander F Schier
Phone:617-384-8401
Email:jroden@fas.harvard.edu
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.


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  Casey Roehrig
Course:Life and Physical Sciences A (LPS A)
Course Heads: Professor Tamara Brenner, Professor Gregory Tucci
Life Sciences 1b (Ls1b)
Course Heads: Professor Kevin Eggan, Professor Hopi Hoekstra, Professor Maryellen Ruvalo, Professor Pardis Sabeti
Phone:617-384-7925
Email:croehrig@g.harvard.edu
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."


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  Martin Samuels
Course:Life Sciences 1a (Ls1a)
Course Heads: Professor Daniel Kahne, Professor Rich Losick, Professor Rob Lue, Professor Susan Mango
Phone:617-495-1445
Email:msamuels@fas.harvard.edu
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."