Teaching Interests and Philosophy
In research there is a large breadth and depth of information to convey: everything from structures, mechanisms, and laboratory techniques to the history and traditions that define these fields. Over the years doing research, I believe teaching is an integral part of research to pass knowledge and skills from generation to generation. Each audience (undergraduates, graduate students, post-docs) needs not only a different balance of these areas of information, but also a different method of delivery. It’s a two-way communication and I believe that scientific teaching has evolved from being didactic to participatory, conversational and discussion based. I want to introduce a similar spirit in my classroom.
Undergraduate Teaching: It is imperative that undergraduate students are taught a strong foundation in the basics of chemistry and biology not only to ensure the success of their future education in Medicine or Pharmacy but also to enhance their understanding of other sciences. Besides this ever-increasing role of computational techniques to solve problems in life science cannot be undermined. Emphasis should be placed on scientific data curation, correct representation, and application to solve specific problems in chemistry and biology. These fundamentals include the names and structures of the historical and current drugs in a therapeutic area, basic mechanisms of action, and basic medicinal chemistry concepts. Ideally the course material should stress on acquiring the knowledge and skills to address practical scientific problems. My goal will be for students to complete my classes with an understanding of basic concepts in chemistry, and to use scientific inquiry to address application-based questions in chemical biology.
Undergraduate Research: A positive and educational undergraduate research experience can make all the difference in the future success of an undergraduate student. Modern chemical biology is largely experimental science and many sophisticated tools and techniques have been developed to launch scientific inquiries. In a chemistry group oriented towards chemical biology and informatics, an undergraduate researcher should be taught both the art and science of chemical and biological data representation, storage, retrieval, curation and management. The concepts of chemistry and chemical biology should be taught by having the student to apply computational modeling approaches to practical problems. However, training students in these techniques without a context does not provide the best outcome. Instead, the need is to design focused application based questions, which can then be answered by a series of experiments employing cutting edge modern techniques. Thus, with a clear context students will easily understand the merit of each technique in perspective.
Graduate Teaching: A comprehensive and thorough knowledge of both chemistry and informatics maximizes the opportunity for graduate students to succeed in the lab and in their careers. The material in these courses gives the graduate student a framework in which to analyze problems in the lab and tools to suggest creative solutions. Knowledge of computational modeling and information management teaches students how to exploit chemical/biological data in public domain. A comprehensive knowledge of medicinal chemistry/chemical biology teaches students what molecules to make to obtain desired biological activity and how to change and redesign molecules in response to biological activity data. A solid background in both these areas provides the graduate student with the tools needed to develop into an interdisciplinary scientist. In addition to lecture-based teaching to reiterate and support basic knowledge and terminology, I have integrated multiple teaching techniques to convey how concepts taught in class apply to development of novel therapeutics that target the cellular and molecular basis for complex diseases such as obesity, diabetes and cancer. To attain this goal, I will use case-studies, problem-based learning, laboratory exercises, and basic research papers to illustrate key concepts and integrate knowledge across disciplines. Case studies and group problem solving will provide the students with opportunities to improve their presentation skills, to pose questions and to answer those questions through investigative research.
Graduate/Post-Doc Mentoring: The goal when mentoring graduate students and post-docs is to develop these researchers into independent scientists. This requires the grad student/post-doc to build expertise and a knowledge base in computational techniques and medicinal chemistry/chemical biology as well as to develop a portfolio of work that demonstrates this expertise. Ideally grad student/post-doc will demonstrate expertise in both these research areas as part of their work to prepare them to function and excel in a multi-disciplinary environment. Ideally the assigned project should stress acquiring the computational skill set, be of manageable scope, and result in a publication. Mentoring will emphasize on one-on-one training, exposition to other labs; participation at annual meetings; and greater authority on writing manuscripts.
I am interested in teaching and developing courses in Medicinal Chemistry, Biochemistry/Chemical Biology, Information Management, and Cancer Biology as part of the teaching environment of the University. Having extensive research experience, I have integrated problem-solving methods into my course to help students address complex chemistry and biological science questions.
Cheminfosphere provides a platform where young researchers are instructed in the techniques of modern chemical biology and chemo-bioinformatics while becoming integrated members of a vibrant scientific community. The courses are designed to give students an opportunity to conduct first-rate research. Student learn about scientific reasoning, laboratory methods, theoretical principles, and scientific communication.
Specific objectives of the program are to:
- Give college undergraduates experience in conducting original research
- Raise their awareness of the physical and intellectual tools necessary for biological research
- Inform them about the major questions now under investigation in the biomedical and life sciences
- Promote interactions with laboratory scientists
We provide innovative curricula and exciting student research projects to prepare the scientists of the future.