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URMC / Education / Graduate Education / URBest Blog / January 2017 / The World of a Research-Scientist into the Sphere of a Scientist-Educator

The World of a Research-Scientist into the Sphere of a Scientist-Educator

Career Story by Ramil Sapinoro, PhD, Associate Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences at St. John Fisher College


Escher Sphere Drawing

Three Spheres II (1946), M.C. Escher

Emotional intelligence.  Cultural competency.  Flipping the classroom.  Diversity and inclusion.  Learning styles.  I realized very quickly that the world of academia possessed its own set of terminology.  My responsibilities as a teacher came with a steep learning curve to transition from the world of a research-scientist into the sphere of a scientist-educator.  I was nervous that I would crash and burn.  Upon some lengthy and deep contemplation, I realized that these worlds reflect and intersect one another; one contained within the other with myself in the center as the common denominator.

Teaching for me is something I innately gravitated towards. Part of this passion resulted from past teachers and mentors who sincerely cared for me as a person. They asked me hard questions and taught me valuable and, at times, tough life lessons. I believe I am a reflection of the influential professors and research mentors who were engaging and inspired me to take ownership of my learning.

Speaking of learning, I am predominantly a visual learner (the reason for the picture that inspired the themes of this blog…a side note:  if you have not visited the M.C. Escher exhibit at the MAG you should go before it leaves January 29, 2017! And its free for UofR employees!)  I love to use figures, diagrams, concept maps, and media to describe the sometimes challenging topics associated with host defense and infectious disease.  If you want your students to be excited and engaged, you have to exhibit the same enthusiasm.  If you are not enjoying what you are explaining, change it up and find an alternative method that makes you excited about teaching the topic!

I love my job! I get to come to work and foster the probing inner child in me always asking “why?” and in turn communicate this passion for learning and discovery to engage students. My goal is to integrate my teaching and research experiences to improve my personal learning, which in turn facilitates my development into a high-quality educator.  Taking a page out of the scientific method, I collect data, take some action, and collect more data.  In other words, I make evidence-based changes centered on feedback and reflection.  Sometimes the data is clear and mirrors my exact intention.  Sometimes my actions are muted and not transparent.  Sometimes there is no need for change.  Ultimately, the success of my students is in part a reflection of me: “the work a reflection of the artist, the artist reflected in his work.” 

Tracey Baas | 1/6/2017

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