My overall teaching philosophy is to make science accessible to all. Biology is not about memorizing abstract terms, it’s about solving real-world problems, and all students, regardless of background, should have the opportunity to obtain the knowledge, skills, and tools to become valued problem-solvers in their communities.


How do I make science accessible? I employ a combination of teaching methods to achieve my learning goals. I use hands-on activities that often merge science and art to demonstrate biological concepts while also enhancing learning through visual, spatial, and/or tactile associations. I encourage students to collect and/or analyze real-world datasets and interpret results in light of theory. I also create a collaborative learning community within the classroom by forming student groups and encouraging peer instruction.




I taught this class at CSU Long Beach during the 2018-2019 academic year. The class consists of two three-hour labs per week, providing lots of time for active learning and inquiry-based activities. Students learned the naming (taxonomy), evolutionary relationships (systematics), and patterns of descent (phylogeny) of the vertebrates, and they applied the principles of basic biology and physiology to understand how vertebrates have adapted to diverse ecological conditions. Many class sessions took place in the field so that students could apply what they had learned in class to a real-world setting.


Vertebrate Zoology students getting creative on drawing the phylogeny

of cartilaginous fish!

Teaching students toad biology during one of our

field trips. Photo by T. Stankowich


In this class, I taught students research design and implementation, data analysis, and communication of research results. Students conducted independent research projects on ecological questions, then presented their work at a class 'symposium'. As lead instructor, I designed the entire class structure and curricula. I arranged field trips to off-campus locations and encouraged students to conduct creative and impactful outreach projects related to their independent project research (e.g., they wrote blog posts or created online infographics). I taught this class during the Spring 2014 and Fall 2014 semesters.

Survey Responses from End of Semester Student Evaluations:

"Most helpful and knowledgeable instructor I have ever had in three years of Biology."

"Bree was great! She really prepared us for what we might face in graduate school and the type of writing we would have to do. Overall, I feel like she did an excellent job in teaching us a useful skill that I know many of us will definitely need to use!"

"I think this was my first lab where I was motivated and felt a true respect for the instructor."

"Bree is so smart, so nice, so funny, and one of my best instructors at SDSU if not the best. Highly recommend her to ALL CLASSES!"

"She was an awesome teacher! One of my favorites for sure! Thanks Bree!"

"She is passionate about what she studies and is also passionate about ecology. She is super funny as well!"

"She was very helpful and always willing to help when needed. Appreciate that she had stuff always graded in a timely manner, especially while trying to get her PhD!"