GSA Education Pre-Conference Workshops

Unfamiliar with Vision and Change in Undergraduate Biology Education?

9:00 am - 4:00 pm: Crash Course in Vision & Change: Learn how to be a more effective educator

Hall of Cities: Chicago

Registration Closed

Educators (or soon-to-be educators) at any level are encouraged to attend this workshop modeled after the National Academies Summer Institute (albiet much shorter). Attendees will be introduced to the principles behind Vision & Change and active learning, and can brainstorm ways to use these new techniques in their classroom. Designed for anyone from faculty to advanced graduate students, this workshop will be capped at a small size; so register early! Workshop led by Michelle Smith (University of Maine). 

Michelle Smith, PhD - Assistant Professor, University of Maine

Dr. Smith's work focuses on how to help students learn biology and help faculty adopt promising educational practices in their classrooms. Specifically, she is interested in investigating the origins of pervasive misunderstandings in genetics, determining what aspects of peer discussion make it an effective learning tool in both large-lecture and small-enrollment courses, and collaborating with biology faculty on science education research questions in an effort to facilitate course transformation.

Dr. Smith was a PALM (Promoting Active Learning & mentoring) mentor in the program's inaugural class

Already versed in active learning techniques?

Educator Flex Pass

Passes still available! Email Anne Marie Mahoney at

Purchase an "Educator Flex Pass" and attend two of three workshops offered to educators already aware of (or implementing) evidence-based teaching methods. 

Each workshop will be offered twice, once in the morning and once in the afternoon.

9:00 am - 12:00 pm: Morning Session

1:00 pm - 4:00 pm: Afternoon Session


Collaborative Hackathon: Make Lesson Plans Using a Model Organism Card Game

Crystal Ballroom B

Attendees will be given time to work in groups on brainstorming lesson plans using the GSA Model Organism Phylo card game, the final version of which will be launched at TAGC. Potential concepts addressed might be: importance of basic research; how collaboration enhances the scientific process; overview of genetics techniques; and any of GSA's core concepts in genetics. Workshop led by David Ng (University of British Columbia).

David Ng, PhD - Faculty, University of British Columbia

David Ng is a geneticist, science educator, part time writer, and faculty based at the Michael Smith Laboratories at the University of British Columbia. He is interested in various areas of science literacy, and is particularly engaged when the notions of science and art intersect. Of note: (1) he is partly responsible for the massive DNA helix emblazoned on his building's facade; (2) his Dad beat up Bruce Lee; (3) his first foray into general publishing featured a unicorn on the front cover; and (4) his wife and kids are all exemplary.

Interests include: Science Writing, Game-Base Learning, Informal Science Ed, Maker Culture, Chewbacca

Teaching Foundational Concepts through Primary Literature

Crystal Ballroom C

Attendees will learn how to teach core concepts in genetics using primary literature, and then will design an activity based on the C.R.E.A.T.E. strategy. Workshop led by Sally Hoskins (CCNY).

Sally Hoskins, PhD - Professor, City College of the City University of New York

Originally a developmental neurobiologist, Dr. Hoskins now specialize in science education via primary literature. With Leslie Stevens (UT-Austin) she developed the Consider, Read, Elucidate hypotheses, Analyze and interpret the data, & Think of the next Experiment (CREATE) approach (, whereby students analyze literature pre-class using a novel "toolkit" of methods. CREATE faculty are freed from "delivering content," and allowed instead to bring their higher-order understanding of research process to the classroom. CREATE promotes deep learning and has been well-received by students on diverse campuses at both 2yr and 4 yr institutions.

Integrating Discovery-based Research into the Undergraduate Curriculum

Crystal Ballroom D

This workshop will introduce attendees to the philosophy behind Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences (CUREs) and Course-based Research Experiences (CREs), illustrating the concept with three CUREs both national and local in scope. Participants will then breakout into groups to discuss how to incorporate a CURE in their own curriculum. Workshop led by Sarah (Sally) Elgin (Washington University in St. Louis).

Sarah Elgin (Washington University in St. Louis): Report on the NAS Convocation “Integrating Discovery-based Research into the Undergraduate Curriculum”

Joel Rothman  (University of California – Santa Barbara): LURE-ing early undergraduates into research with a little worm

Emily Wiley (Claremont McKenna/Pitzer/Scripps Colleges): Building model system consortiums that advance faculty scholarship through course-based research

Erin Dolan (University of Texas – Austin): The Freshman Research Initiative: When undergraduate research becomes the curriculum

Robin Wright (University of Minnesota – Twin Cities): From field station to lab bench: the evolution and impact of a research-focused biological sciences curriculum


Sarah (Sally) Elgin, PhD - Professor of Biology, Washington University in St. Louis

Sarah (Sally) Elgin is a Professor of Biology, of Genetics, and of Education at Washington University in St. Louis. Her research is in epigenetics, particularly heterochromatin formation. She became an HHMI Professor in 2002, funding that enabled her to start the Genomics Education Partnership, a consortium that teaches genomics by engaging undergraduates in a research project. She has taught undergraduates (majors and nonmajors), graduate students, and K-12 teachers.

Joel Rothman, PhD - Professor and Wilcox Family Chair in Biotechnology, University of California, Santa Barbara

Dr. Rothman is Professor and Wilcox Family Chair in Biotechnology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He earned his BS from UC Davis in 1978, performed graduate studies at UCSF, and was Winemaker at Buena Vista Winery until 1983. He received his PhD from the University of Oregon in 1988 and was a postdoctoral fellow at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, UK. He was a faculty member at the University of Wisconsin from 1991-96 and subsequently moved to UCSB. He has served on the editorial board of several journals and on several NIH study sections. From 2001-06, he was co-director of the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory Embryology Course and is currently Director of the NIH MARC program and the HHMI Undergraduate Education program at UCSB, which incorporates research experiences and peer mentoring into large undergraduate biology courses.

Emily Wiley, PhD - Associate Professor of Biology, Claremont McKenna, Pitzer, and Scripps Colleges

Emily studied yeast telomere structure before pursuing regulation of chromatin modifications in the ciliate Tetrahymena thermophila. Her research with undergraduate students at the Claremont Colleges has led to development of ciliate-based research modules for integration into a range of college courses, and a multi-institution collaborative network for student research called the "Ciliate Genomics Consortium."

Dr. Wiley's interests include: pedagogy; science leadership; K-12 science teacher education; faculty development.

Erin Dolan, PhD - TIDES Executive Director, University of Texas at Austin

Erin Dolan is the founding Executive Director of the Texas Institute for Discovery Education in Sciences (TIDES) in the College of Natural Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin. TIDES aims to integrate the teaching and research missions of the university by supporting experiential learning for undergraduates, offering professional development for graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and faculty, and evaluating the effectiveness of innovative science education programming. Dolan's research focuses on understanding science research as an educational context. She is PI or co-PI on more than $6 million in grants from the NIH, NSF, and other agencies, and Editor-in-Chief of the leading biology education journal, CBE-Life Sciences Education.

Robin Wright, PhD - Professor & Head, University of Minnesota

Robin Wright earned a BSc from the University of Georgia and a PhD from Carnegie-Mellon University. After postdoctoral training at UC, Berkeley, she was on the faculty of the University of Washington for nearly 13 years. She moved to Minnesota in 2003, where she served as Associate Dean for Faculty and Academic Affairs and is currently the Head of the Department of Biology Teaching and Learning, and professor of Genetics, Cell Biology, and Development. Prof. Wright has experience teaching both large and small classes, including freshman seminars, large introductory biology courses, and skill-oriented courses for honors students. She leads HHMI- and NSF-supported initiatives to deliver discovery-based research experience for the thousands of majors and non-majors at her institution. 

Dr. Wright is the recipient of the 2014 Elizabeth Jones Award for Excellence in Education from GSA

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REIL-Biology Workshop at TAGC

Are you already sold on Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences (CUREs), but now aren't sure how best to implement research in your classroom? This ancillary day-long workshop is for you! While our "Educator Flex Pass" workshop about CUREs introduces people to the concept, this NSF-funded REIL-Biology workshop allows people to work in institutional teams to develop modules for use in intro biology courses. 

8:30 am - 5:30 pm: REIL-Biology Workshop

Research Experiences in Introductory Laboratories (REIL)- Biology, an NSF-funded research coordination network, sponsors this one-day workshop immediately preceding TAGC. Participants will work with faculty who have experience in course-based research to hear about the benefits of course-based research experiences for both students and faculty, to learn strategies for overcoming barriers to implementing these CURES, and to work in institutional teams to develop research modules for their intro biology courses. REIL-Biology has some funding to support research and education faculty members who aren't members of GSA to travel to TAGC to participate in the workshop. Apply by June 1, 2016!