I recently moved to UCR, where in 2024 I will be teaching undergraduate herpetology and also undergraduate evolution, two upper-level courses quite similar to what I describe below for Oklahoma State University.
I teach a mixture of courses at OSU. I started with large, lecture-only teaching of evolution, but recently I’ve moved to small courses with labs that have authentic research experiences. I list my courses below in reverse chronological order of when I last taught them. If you are a student and interested in learning more about any of these courses, please feel free to write.
Animal Locomotion (BIOL 4484/5484; Fall odd years): This is a new class I’m teaching in Fall 2021. It combines lecture and lab (4 credits total). Lecture focuses on general topics in locomotion, including the simple physics behind motion, muscle physiology, movement on land, in water, and in air, and the evolution of locomotion. Classes are interactive with frequent student participation, and we also have regular research-paper discussions to link what we learn to ongoing science. The lab focuses on active learning of how to do scientific research. We dedicate the first half of the semester to learning some of the tools and techniques used for studying locomotion. We then break into groups of 4–5 students (from the total class size of 20) to conduct original research projects, led by graduate-student mentors, and groups present their results at the end of the semester. Particularly strong projects may be continued in the Moen lab after the course ends, with potential to present results at national or international meetings (e.g. SICB). The lab course was largely designed based on one described by Full et al. 2015.
Herpetology (BIOL 4184/5184; Spring every year): Herpetology is the study of amphibians and reptiles (“herps”). This class has both lecture and lab. In lecture, we cover the diversity of herps and how they can be used to understand general principles of ecology and evolutionary biology. We then synthesize our understanding of diversity by considering the interrelatedness of groups in physiology, locomotion, feeding, and conservation. Lecture involves active engagement and small-group work. We also have discussion days where we dig into recent research papers to learn about the new things in herpetology and the broadening diversity of scientists learning these things. In lab, we focus on identification and biology of Oklahoman species. We have regular field trips to learn field research methods and employ our identification skills to more actively learn species. The class is small enough (total: 20 students) that we get to know each other well through these field trips.
Graduate discussion in comparative biology (BIOL 5010; Fall even years): This is a 1-credit seminar for graduate students, where we discuss both foundational and more recent scientific papers in a topic that changes depending on graduate-student interest. Students from all departments are welcome. The first iteration of this seminar was on phylogenetic comparative biology, and we had students from both Integrative Biology and Plant Biology, Ecology, and Evolution.
Evolution (BIOL 4133/5133): I taught evolution frequently during my early years at OSU, until I started animal locomotion in Fall 2021. Evolution is a large (80-student) lecture class that covers the whole field of evolutionary biology. When teaching it, I structure the course around macroevolution, microevolution, evolutionary ecology, and topics of human importance (e.g. evolution of infectious diseases, human evolution). While the class is large, students get involved through clicker quizzes, breakout groups to solve in-class questions, and problem sets.