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URMC / Education / Graduate Education / URBest Blog / February 2018 / Bringing Science to Life in a Way That is Authentic, Meaningful, And Contextualized

Bringing Science to Life in a Way That is Authentic, Meaningful, And Contextualized

Career Story by Teresa Long, MS, Undergraduate Research Project Coordinator at University of Rochester


Have you ever watched the original Cosmos series?  I’m no Carl Sagan (or Neil DeGrasse Tyson, for that matter), but I am someone who is most motivated by those who can bring science to life in a way that is authentic, meaningful, and contextualized.  As a researcher turned teacher turned university staff member, I’ve seen many of the same twists and turns that seem to define the modern career search.  I am excited to bring my story and opportunities for those looking to gain teaching experience to URBEST February 6th 9:30 – 10:30 am.

My current job title is “Undergraduate Research Project Coordinator.”  What that entails, exactly, varies day-to-day.  I work with undergraduate students and faculty members to better support an inclusive research environment on campus through program development, interviews, advising, outreach, and a lot of collaboration.  I support undergraduates through the provision of baseline advising on undergraduate research: how to get started, concrete action steps to take, and updates on ways to share and fund their research.  I work together with faculty and staff across departments to develop and support programs that enrich undergraduate research opportunities.  Together with the Office of Undergraduate Research and Marc Halterman in URMC’s Center for Neurotherapeutics Discovery (CND), for example, the Undergraduate Placement Program (UR-UPP) was founded.  UR-UPP has created a centralized avenue for prospective mentors at URMC and on the River Campus to directly connect with interested and enthusiastic undergraduates, enabling over 66 research project placements with 50 unique mentors to date.

Before ending up at the University of Rochester, though, I worked in a series of high schools in the North Carolina and greater Rochester area.  Uncertainty about “life after science” had led me to get my master’s degree in science education from the Warner School here at U of R, where student-centered experiential education was the driving philosophy.  I taught chemistry, biology, and environmental science to students in tenth through twelfth grade and, in the process, learned invaluable lessons about (1) how learning looks different for different students, (2) how a student’s personal experience can shape their classroom attitudes and experiences, and (3) how I had drastically underappreciated my own high school teachers.  As a teacher, I had to quickly learn to navigate theoretical pedagogy, the practical implementation of ideas, and evaluations driven by standardized testing.  I see many of these educational challenges--and the innovative pedagogical ideas they engender--as central topics of discussion in today’s post-secondary environment.

Working with undergraduate research has allowed me to take the creative, innovative, and student-centered ways of thinking I loved about teaching and fuse them with traditional academic research.  Come join me on February 6th 9:30 – 10:30 am in the Northeastern Conference Room (1-9525) if you’re interested in discussing science education, its intersection with research, and/or ways you can get directly involved in gaining teaching and mentoring experience!  I look forward to our conversation.  


An opportunity for involvement: we’re looking for URBEST participants who want practical teaching experience

UR-UPP is looking for graduate students and postdocs interested in gaining teaching experience to help us strengthen our initiatives.  Together with the CND, we have upcoming plans to be able to host a credit-bearing course focusing on technical wet-lab, bioinformatics, and “soft” reading, writing, and presentation skills.  The biology department on River Campus is also looking to address this need with a series of 1-credit “bio basics” courses in highly desired biology lab techniques.  We need interested instructors!  If you want to think about curriculum development and/or gaining practical teaching experience, let’s talk!  Generally, speaking, we are looking for graduate students and postdocs that are...

  • Willing to work with groups of undergraduates interested in the health sciences
  • Creative and "real-world" application-minded in their thinking
  • Open to feedback and collaboration in teaching and curriculum design work

I look forward to talking with you all!



Tracey Baas | 1/15/2018

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