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Although I am new to WyzAnt, I have provided college and high school level tutoring for biology courses and the MCAT, SATII, and AP exams as an independent and contracted tutor for over the past six years. I have a Bachelors of Science in Biology and Doctorate of Philosophy in Cell and Molecular Biology, in addition to having faculty training in education. My favorite subjects are genetics, developmental biology, and zoology.
I really enjoy teaching and seeing others grow in their understanding. In my experience, there are three important factors to tutoring: creation of a relaxed learning environment, listening to the student, and providing positive constructive feedback.
A fun and relaxed environment helps a student to speak freely and risk making mistakes. This helps a student to observe their limitations while minimizing negative feelings, which can interfere with the learning process. When they can accept where they are, it is easier to get them to focus on their learning goals without feeling like the “should” farther along.
By listening to a student, I can help them achieve their goals. Instead of imposing an agenda on the student, I listen to their needs and then restate them back to the student. Furthermore, when applied during the session, a student has opportunities to affirm either what they know or do not understand. This technique generates a dialog, which helps the student feel more like a collaborator rather than a passive observer.
Finally, I believe that “success breeds success”; giving a student positive feedback is very important. Some students are stressed by negative reinforcement from low test scores, self-criticism, or social pressure. I encourage a student to learn to recognize their accomplishments, not matter how small. It seems that the best way for them to recognize their strengths is to give them a balanced appraisal; first I provide positive feedback before giving them very specific learning objectives.
In summary, a student that needs tutoring often requires affirmation of their strengths. By allowing a student to speak freely, make mistakes, and recognize their abilities give them the confidence to move forward through the learning material.
Genetics is the study of heritable traits encompassing classical Mendelian inheritance, the Chromosomal theory, many modes of recombination, to modern Genomic disciplines. The essence of genetics consists of the transmission of phenotypes over generations, determined by one or more genes, consisting of nucleic acids. Our understanding of how genes are expressed, replicated, recombined, and mutated have been defined in many model organisms.
I have received extensive academic training and laboratory experience in molecular and organismal genetics. My training began long before the human genome was sequenced; this was a time when recombinant DNA technology and classic genetic approaches were used to study gene structure and function. Starting in 1989, while at the University of Utah, and in 1990 at the University of Pennsylvania, I studied the mechanisms of viral-mediated and chemical-induced DNA rearrangements of genes. In graduate school at UPENN, my PhD thesis focused on the structural and expression consequences of chromosomal translocations that are hallmark mutations associated with human cancers. During this time, I worked to identify the underlying mutations linked to tumors occurring in children. With other colleagues, we determined the chromosomal mutations in this tumor often resulted in gene fusion events. That is, changes in the chromosomes created an entirely new gene consisting of two different parts. When expressed, this fusion gene was likely the driving force causing the tumors. Moreover, we determined that the chromosomal translocations also overproduced (over expressed) the fusion gene, which was also an important event. This body of work was used to generate molecular diagnostic assays to help clinicians distinguish this kind of tumor from others, when the cellular appearance of the tumors is ambiguous.
My experiences as a PhD student drew my attention towards the study of developmental genes in model organisms. One of the genes that I help identify, as part of my graduate work, encodes a transcription factor, a protein that controls how animals develop as embryos. In particular, this gene belongs to a larger family of genes (called PAX genes) that play important roles in the formation of brains, eyes, muscle, and other organ systems. Although some aspects of their function were known, there was much more to learn. So, I decided, as part of my postdoctoral work, to explore the genetic basis of development.
I joined Baylor College of Medicine and began to study two different transcription factor genes using two different animals, the mouse and Drosophila melanogaster. The mouse is an excellent system to study how genes functions in vertebrates and gives us insight into how genes may function in humans. The fruit fly D. melanogaster is an amazingly sophisticated animal in which genetic analyses can be performed and used to address problems that are impossible or extremely difficult in vertebrates. Moreover, analyses in the fruit fly have broad application in the study of genetics in humans, as most of the genes in vertebrates and flies are homologous and likely function in similar ways at the cellular and tissue levels.
I used a reverse genetics approaches to make mutations in the mouse and fruit fly called Dachshund and Retinal Homeobox, respectively. I used state-of-the art methods to generate mutations in two Dachshund genes (homologous recombination) and in Retinal Homeobox (P-element transposition mutagenesis). After making animals with these mutations, I went on to study the effects of the mutations on the phenotypes (physical appearance of the animals) and determined that these genes were important regulators of embryogenesis.
With the successful completion of my postdoctoral fellowship, I then moved to Columbia University to use gene and stem cell therapy to develop treatments for a variety of human. We are gene therapy vectors to manipulate the expression of several genes in the eye to slow or block photoreceptor cell death occurring in a mouse model of a human disease called retinitis pigmentosa.
Thus, in addition to undergrad and graduate level genetics courses, I have had real laboratory experiences in the application of genetics to study the causes of cancer, the control of embryonic development, and clinically relevant treatments of eye disease. These experiences span 23-year period of activity. Furthermore, I have tutored many students in learning basic and advanced genetics at the high school and college level. Having been a student, professional geneticist, and tutor, I truly understand the difficulties with this subject.
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