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I graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a B.S. in Biology and Vanderbilt University with my M.D. and a Ph.D. in Pharmacology. After that, I completed a residency in pathology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and became board certified in anatomical and clinical pathology. For the next seven years, I did post-doctoral research at Vanderbilt University. While I enjoy research immensely, I also love to teach! For the last seven years, I have taught AP biology, honors biology, college preparatory biology, as well as anatomy & physiology, AP psychology, and ACT science prep. At the college level, I have taught anatomy & physiology and pathophysiology to nursing students.

One of my very favorite things to do when I teach or tutor is to bring real-world meaning to whatever topic is being studied. How much easier it is to remember details when someone can explain why it's relevant--why it relates to YOU!

I bring a positive attitude and patience to tutoring, and I work hard to assess how I can best help each client. We will discuss how you learn best, and we will tackle anxiety issues with proven strategies. We will work to turn an "I don't know if I can..." to an "I'm getting the hang of this!"

In my free time, I enjoy making handmade cards and jewelry, reading, and spending time with family.

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Karen’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: University of Pittsburgh - Bachelor of Science, Biology, General

Graduate Degree: Vanderbilt University - PHD, Medicine


Making handmade cards and jewelry, reading, spending time with family.

Tutoring Subjects


Anatomy & Physiology

AP Biology



College Biology

General Biology

Graduate Test Prep

High School Biology

MCAT Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems

Medical Terminology






Study Skills

Study Skills and Organization

Q & A

What is your teaching philosophy?

I believe that students almost always understand more than they give themselves credit for! Therefore, one of my first priorities is to assess the student's level of understanding and provide encouragement. From there, we build the required knowledge base together, utilizing their strengths. We determine what "type" of learner they are--visual, auditory, kinesthetic, etc., and I tailor instruction so their learning can be both effective and efficient.

What might you do in a typical first session with a student?

In the first session, I would ask them to state in their own words why they want a tutor. I also want to know what school is like for them. Do they have anxiety? Are they organized? Which class do they like best? Who is their favorite teacher and why? The answers to all these questions give me insight into what strategies will work best. I would also provide encouragement at the first session, and help the client make a study plan they can implement until the next session. Breaking a task down into small, manageable units and making an action plan is sometimes just what's needed to overcome initial hurdles!

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

Instilling confidence and a solid work ethic are the first steps in helping a student become an independent learner. It is important to not give up at the first sign of difficulty. As I developed a rapport with a student, I would gently raise my expectations at each tutoring session. I want to see each student succeed by taking responsibility for their own learning. This is a gradual process, beginning with having the required materials for our sessions, and progressing over time to critical thinking and resourcefulness in tackling problems.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

I would use encouragement to help the student stay motivated. Students so often dwell on what they don't know; they need a cheerleader to remind them how much they DO know. When I tutor, I try to make the topic relevant to the student--it's so much more meaningful that way. Finally, I would help the student develop a plan for "self-reward." For example, "When I have finished these 5 problems correctly, I can (fill in the blank)." For older students, sometimes listening to their goals and dreams and giving them encouragement, a "You can do it!" also helps.

If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?

If a student has difficulty with a skill or concept, I would try to assess what else could be contributing to that difficulty--anxiety, lack of organization, etc. Next, I would inquire how the student feels they learn best. Are they visual? Do they like to use colors when they take notes? Do they like to draw things out? Finally, we would work to "break down" the skill or concept into manageable chunks so the task is not so overwhelming.

How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?

The ability to read and to comprehend what you are reading is needed for success in any subject. I would do several things. First, I would have the student read a few sentences or a paragraph and tell me in their own words what they read. Second, I would ask them questions to test their comprehension. We would also work on taking notes, determining the important points a writer is trying to make.

How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?

I am a firm believer that ANY subject will be more enjoyable to a student if they can be convinced that it has relevance in their life. Finding real-life applications of the subject matter is the key to becoming engaged in learning!

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