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Susanne D.

Biology and Writing teacher

Novato, CA (94949)

Travel radius
20 miles
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I am both a biologist and an editor, dedicated to helping students and professionals with their essays, projects, or books in subjects such as science, creative writing, history or philosophy.

For biology students:
I look forward to meeting you and helping with challenging subject of biology. I have taught a lot of different biology courses at the college level. This includes basic biology, insect biology, science mentoring, developmental biology, genetics and mycology (mushrooms). I've mentored middle school and high school students, and helped them with science projects. We teamed up to be sure that the finished project became a good science demonstration, even when design and reality collided. After all, the unexpected is what a lot of scientists face every time an experiment is done.

My teaching has been done in different venues: one-to-one, in small discussion groups, laboratory settings, and in large classrooms. I prefer one-to-one or small groups, because we can focus on learning and coaching at the same time. I think it is really important that a student gains confidence as well as academic strength in subjects such as biology. Biology offers an understanding of the world around us that is important, no matter what profession one eventually chooses.

I have written articles about Mendelian genetics and insect embryology, and short stories about dogs.

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Susanne’s subjects

English, ESL/ESOL, Proofreading, Reading, SAT Reading, SAT Writing, TOEFL, Writing
Elementary Education:
Reading, Study Skills
Biology, English, ESL/ESOL, Reading, SAT Reading, Study Skills, Writing
Test Preparation:
Career Development, College Counseling, GRE, SAT Reading, SAT Writing, TOEFL
Corporate Training:
Career Development, College Counseling, ESL/ESOL, Proofreading


My background is in cell biology and I approach biochemistry from that angle. Am keeping up with cell signalling and cytokines, though there is always something new on the horizon, with implications for aging, health, and the environment.


If you have viewed my profile, it will come as no surprise that I am passionate about biology. I have a PhD in developmental biology and still write educational articles on the subject. My Master's was in entomology — bugs and radiation biology — and during graduate school I taught basic biology and other classes such as genetics, developmental biology, insect taxonomy, and assisted in mycology classes. I have mentored both high school students and teachers in six-week long summer programs (National Science Foundation), while I was a research scientist at the USDA. We also helped younger students to succeed at middle school science fairs. On an individual level, I tutored athletes at the Univ. of Texas and now through WyzAnt. I really like the one-to-one teaching environment, because we can really focus on skills and test taking strategies.

Career Development

My approach is to help people to follow their hearts and do something they truly love. I have helped students gain courage to go for — and succeed in — a career in higher mathematics and in medicine, when they were ready to settle for less. I've also seen people turn to acting or social activism (risky career choices) instead of "safe" choices like becoming physical therapists or going to law school. Conversations about motivation often brings out the contrast between what one's family hopes for and what the individual hopes to do in the future. We are not guaranteed reincarnation. Therefore we have to assume we have only one life to live to the fullest.

Graduate schools normally do not advertise that universities rely on graduate students and staff to do career counseling and academic advising on the side. I found to my surprise that I was good at it, partly because I have always been fascinated by how students and friends make life choices.

College Counseling

While a PhD candidate at the University of Texas at Austin, I served as a registration advisor at the beginning of the school year, and as an academic/career counselor for science students during the school year. I also wrote letters of recommendations for students seeking entrance to graduate school, and upon finishing my PhD, I entered the Master's Program in Counseling at the University of Florida and took several classes pertaining to college counseling. Recently, I have helped students prepare their applications for professional programs in graduate school, and have assisted with job applications as well, ensuring clarity of thought and purpose.

European History

My background is Danish and my father helped rescue people during World War II and my mother saved people's lives during the civil war in Lebanon. I have lived in four European countries (Denmark, France, Italy, Greece) and have relatives in Sweden, Norway and England. My early schooling was in Denmark and European, world history and geography were important subjects. I was lucky enough to have a wonderful history teacher and have therefore been fascinated with the subject ever since. While I am glad to talk about any period, I have a particular liking for Medieval and modern 20th century history.


During my PhD studies in developmental biology, I was hired to teach genetics and molecular biology as a graduate teaching assistant for five semesters. In genetics courses, I had the pleasure of working with professors who relied on me to explain the practical aspects of problem solving, while they lectured on the theoretical aspects in class, which I attended, of course, because students had questions in both areas when they came to my sessions. The tests were based on problem-solving and it was a source of pride for me to help the students master genetics questions. Students tended to fall into two categories: they loved the formality and the mathematical rigor of the subject or they didn't. The latter group had diverse interests within the biological sciences and therefore provided a window into different subjects such as physiology, ecology, medicine etc that was useful in merging the discipline of genetics with their particular expertise. It allowed us all to gain new perspectives and insights.


Without function, structure becomes pointless (in life; stones do not need function). Physiology means learning about the dynamics of life; complicated, but beautiful. My specialization is cell biology, insect endocrinology and developmental biology. Therefore, I look at physiology from a cellular and a tissue point of view. In teaching human physiology, I stress knowing the "why" or role of organs and organ systems as much as the "how".

Study Skills

Time management and optimism are critical to success in school. Each student needs specific pointers and help with focus and organization. I have advised students in college, in high school and in middle school. Personally, I have three academic degrees to my name, so I have some degree of expertise in how to study for a variety of subjects, both science, history and literature. Moreover, I completed classes in student development in a Master's program for counseling at the University of Florida. I look forward to working with you!


I like teaching zoology (science of animals) in a mentoring-type environment and for small groups. At the University of Texas at Austin, where I got my PhD in zoology, graduate students are expected to teach and to learn by teaching. Biological science is a complicated subject and there is a real sense of accomplishment for student and teacher alike, when the aha-phenomenon sets in. Students often lend a new perspective and ask really insightful questions. There is so much to wonder about in the science of life that we will never run out of the joy of discovery.

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University of California, Santa Barbara (Biological Sciences)

University of Florida (Master's)


Susanne makes biology 'real' and understandable. Susanne has been a great tutor for me and my AP Biology course. She knows her biology, not only the facts but how to keep it current by bringing the topic into current events. If she isn't sure about something she'll find the answer and make sure that you do too. If you don't understand something she will continue to find ways to review the subject until you understand. I have really enjoyed work ...

— Diane from Novato, CA on 2/23/14);

Hourly fee

Standard Hourly Fee: $40.00

Cancellation: 24 hours notice required

Usually the first lesson is in person, unless the student lives far away.

Travel policy

Susanne will travel within 20 miles of Novato, CA 94949.

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Usually responds in about 4 hours

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