I am a graduate of University of Illinois with a Master's in Entomology (study of insects) and University of Connecticut in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. I've been involved in research of how unnamed species are related to one another using DNA sequencing of genes (called systematics) for my undergraduate and graduate career, and hence I am very strong in biology, genetics, microbiology and ecology. My passion in science lies in the implementation of modern DNA sequencing technology to study genes and genomes, especially to advance the field of medicine.
I have experience tutoring students through the National Science Foundation's Research Experience for Undergraduates program, and I also served for approximately a year as a tutor for Parkland Community College in Champaign, IL, teaching anatomy and physiology, microbiology, general biology, and algebra.
I hope to help students with a wide variety of subjects in science and math, especially biology and genetics!
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: University of Connecticut - Bachelors, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Graduate Degree: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - Masters, Entomology
GRE Verbal: 162
Triathlon races and training, Cooking healthy foods
What is your teaching philosophy?
My approach to tutoring is all about increasing confidence in students, rather than just focusing on the little details of a subject. With the right strategies, tools, and approaches to learning, you can succeed in any subject or on any exam.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
My first session consists of learning more about the student's personality, needs, and motivation. I also try to learn what students expect from me as their tutor. The identification of exam and homework dates then helps me to set a plan to maximize timely preparation through our tutoring sessions.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
My tutoring strategy involves teaching students different approaches to learning a subject (depending on the student) that help them learn independently without my help. I love to get students thinking visually, for instance, rather than trying monotonous memorization of science terms. In the context of anatomy, for instance, a hand drawn diagram of organ systems can help to put terms in a more relatable context that makes memorization and recall easier.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I try to make subjects a bit more relatable and down to earth to students in order to increase motivation. A funny anagram to memorize a list of terms, or a story about how an organism connects to a real life situation really helps to take a disliked subject out of the monotonous homework-study-repeat mindset.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
With a difficult skill or concept, I like to try to change a student's approach to understanding. I especially like visual tools for this. It is very easy to get frustrated trying to understand a concept with just a cursory read of text in a book, or by listening to a professor in a rush through a lecture on their 30th time teaching that course. If you can draw out a concept, you can both relate easier to it and gain a higher level of understanding.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Reading comprehension, especially in the context of SAT / GRE type paragraphs, can be difficult without a well defined approach to extracting the important information. These tests intentionally make readings boring and distracting to make this harder! I like to encourage students to identify the topic sentences, and any related details, and underline them in the long paragraphs. This can save you a lot of time over rereading the entire excerpt for every following question.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
The strategy that I find most successful when starting with a new student is to first identify the difficulty that they are having, and focus on organizing a broader strategy rather than small details. Just handing out answers, although easier to begin with, does not increase studying skills in the longer term. Efficient study skills and confidence are the key!
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I believe that the most successful approach to subjects that a student doesn't like is to try to make them funny and relatable. One of my favorite study tools is memorizing a list of terms with a funny anagram of their first letters. A connection of the subject to a student's dream career or passion can also go a long way to make a student more engaged in learning.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
As tutoring sessions progress, I like to work in little quizzes of the material that we're working on - with both me asking questions to gauge a student's confidence in the subject, and the student asking me questions to see if they can identify the important material that may be on exams. This helps me to adapt my approach based on the exam schedule, homework deadline, etc.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Confidence is the key skill that I try to focus on as I tutor students. As study skills and comprehension increase, I like to work in little verbal quizzes on the material to show students their improvement to increase their confidence. My goal is for a student to approach new material without any doubt that they can learn it effectively and efficiently.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
I evaluate a student's needs by asking them both what they need help with and what areas they think they can improve in, and also examining how a student approaches a problem at hand. Seeing a student's approach to a question can be very informative of whether to change study skills and teach new methods for learning.