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Mark

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I currently reside in Webster Groves, MO, a suburb southwest of Saint Louis, MO. I have lived here since 1991 when I came to work at Monsanto Company as a Senior Scientist.
I grew up in Chicago, IL and I graduated from the University of Chicago with a PhD in Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology.
I have a family with two teenage sons, one is in college at Georgetown University and the other is at Saint Louis Priory High School currently considering colleges for 2018.
I worked at Monsanto Company for over 15 years conducting cutting edge research. I worked in the cancer cell biology field at the beginning of my career there and then moved to the crop biotechnology group where I made several breakthroughs that lead to improved corn and soybean seed products for the company. I have also worked in the genomics department and held a data mining role for several years. After leaving Monsanto, I have worked as a contract employee for several startup companies involved in renewable energy projects (green fuels from algae), bacterial based crop growth enhancers and in new oil seed crop development.
I began tutoring to help students grasp science and math concepts and improve their academic performance. Experience in tutoring for me comes from previous roles as a mentor and teacher while on the job at Monsanto. In addition, I was a teaching assistant as a graduate student at the University of Chicago for plant molecular biology courses. I have two sons whom I have helped with their studies on many occasions, helping them get through tough patches of math and science curricula. I also was a key contributor in developing a thorough "science enrichment" program at a Webster Groves elementary school which became a very popular program for students and teachers alike. Recently, I have been enriching my data scientist skills by enrolling in online courses through Johns Hopkins University and Coursera, I currently have nine course certifications for using R programming for statistical data analysis.
I am looking forward to helping many students improve their academic performance through Varsity Tutors.

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Mark’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: University of Chicago - Bachelors, Biological Sciences

Graduate Degree: University of Chicago - PHD, Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology

Hobbies

tropical fish hobbyist/freshwater fishing/ bicycle riding on Grant's Trail/ spinning class for exercise

Tutoring Subjects

ACT Math

ACT Science

Algebra 2

AP Biology

Biology

Biotechnology

Cell Biology

Chemistry

College Algebra

College Biology

Genetics

Geometry

High School Biology

High School Chemistry

Life Sciences

Math

Microbiology

Middle School Math

Middle School Science

Molecular Biology

Molecular Genetics

Pre-Algebra

Pre-Calculus

SAT Prep

SAT Math

Science

Statistics

Test Prep

Trigonometry


Q & A

What is your teaching philosophy?

Quickly finding out what concepts with which a student currently has the MOST difficulty and addressing them first. I believe in breaking problems down to their basic building blocks and making them very easy for the student to overcome. I will readily use resources from the internet which are quickly found online and very specific and also the student's own study guides and textbooks, teacher's notes, etc. Most of all, I have endless patience to allow a student to feel at ease and allow the "light bulb" to go on above their head.

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

Get to know their familiarity with the subject matter. Have a general conversation to learn how they feel about the subject and what they believe may be holding them back.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

Show them how to find important information quickly, either from their own materials or from online resources. Get them comfortable asking the right questions, and then finding the answers to those good questions.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

I would help them to foster a regular schedule to review material, notes, etc. for the subjects with which they are having the most difficulty. Teach them to have a healthy curiosity and to not be afraid to pursue the truth. To show them why it is to their advantage to always keep learning and to do their very best to achieve the highest level of academic performance. To relate to them how it will result in their future success and happiness.

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

I would explain it to them from several different approaches and use several different analogies. I would show them questions and answers from study materials that illustrate how to understand the skill or concept.

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

I ask them to slow down the reading a bit and take account of the subjects, the setting, the major characters, and the major actions and to reconstruct what the passages are all about.

What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?

First, look at their syllabus with them and have them point out the topics/subjects that are posing the most difficulty. Then, make sure I have access to their study guides to review how the material was presented to them. Identify the most useful materials from my own resources and from online resources. Then, outline a program to attack each of the problematic concepts and themes, check with the student to make sure they understand how I am approaching the problems, get their buy in, and then proceed to show them where the disconnects are and how they can get around them.

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

I would help a student get engaged with a problematic subject by sharing with them anecdotes of how great achievements were made in those fields by professionals who understood the basic foundations of those subjects. For example, if the field was immunology, I would tell them the great story of Edward Jenner and how he developed a vaccine for smallpox. Another example for the field of microbiology is the great story of Louis Pasteur who showed how life comes from previous life and disproved the theory of "Spontaneous Generation." Also, in the field of evolutionary biology, the great story of Charles Darwin and how he deduced the "Origin of Species" and illustrated how life evolves through natural selection.

What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?

I would use materials from the online learning platform and from other online sources that formulate questions that test how well a student understands the material.

How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?

I would build a student's confidence in a subject by progressively testing them with different questions, having them draw diagrams of what they understand, and I would compliment them progressively more as they secured a greater understanding of the subject.

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

I evaluate a student's needs by investigating what they have already accomplished or failed in previous tests, exams, essays, papers, etc. Reading through their past assignments, I would be able to gain a good starting point that I would subsequently improve upon through conversations and challenges with new questions from learning materials from online resources and the student's own texts and study guides.

How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?

I adapt my tutoring effort to the student's needs by assessing what their needs are first: do they need special attention to a few topics or do they need help more evenly over all or most of the subject matter. If they are having specific problems with a few topics, then I can focus on those topics and test them progressively so we both know when they are mastering them. If, on the other hand, they need more general help with the subject, I can begin at the beginning with their syllabus and build an initial foundation for their understanding of the subject matter and subsequently take on specific topics one at a time.

What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?

I will first explore what the student's professor/teacher has provided as a study guide and textbooks and go over that with the student to find out where there are disconnects, and then give them alternative explanations. If that does not lead to an improved understanding of the subject matter, I will use materials generally available online, especially for alternative questions that can be used to test the student. I will also use the "learning tools" available through the online learning platform.


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