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Undergraduate Educator Network Webinars

Sponsored by the Education Committee Undergraduate Education Subcommittee

These webinars provide faculty development opportunities for undergraduate educators and those who are considering this career path. Each webinar will feature one or more speakers and panelists with experience in the topic areas. Participants will also be able to ask questions and make comments. Recordings will be available for wider access.

Links to the previously recorded webinars are accessible below.

Upcoming Webinars

Using Open Source Biological Pathway Databases for Education and Discovery
June 4, 2015
12:00 Noon ET

Presenter: Marc Gillespie, St. John’s University, Jamaica, NY

Sifting through the results of expression or other data rich analyses posses a daunting challenge to experienced and novel researchers alike. Numerous methods exist, all sharing the common theme of grouping the results in such a way as to assist the researcher in finding the underlying patterns in the data. Biological pathway knowledge bases provide a platform for the identification of pathways that are represented within the experimental data. Reactome is an open-source, open access, manually curated and peer-reviewed pathway database. Pathway annotations are authored by expert biologists, in collaboration with Reactome editorial staff and cross-referenced to many bioinformatic databases. Pathway and Expression Analysis tools analyze user supplied data sets permitting ID mapping, pathway assignment, and over-representation analysis. The rich detail of the Reactome data set combined with accessible analysis tools present toxicologists with a easy to use computational pipeline for biological pathway analysis.

Classroom Utility

Within the classroom pathway knowledge bases can function as a biology textbook. Faculty and Students can select specific pathways that impact a segment of their material and highlight the biological mechanisms that are in play within this segment. Imagine a classroom presentation describing DNA damage that highlights the molecular steps of DNA Repair. Students can walk themselves through each type of DNA Repair, examining the differences between mismatch and base excision repair mechanisms. Students and Faculty examining the steps are immediately connected to the literature describing the experiments that support each step of the pathway, molecular structure data, and expression data. Each step of the pathway includes a text summation, as well as possible links to relevant disease states affecting that particular step.

Webinar Objectives and Educational Goals

  1. Analyze expression datasets and other data rich experimental results.
    1. Faculty and Students can use topic specific datasets to highlight molecular function and functional interconnections.
  2. Describe the methods that are used for biological pathway analysis.
    1. Multiple methods are available. What are they, how are they used?
    2. How might some of these methods be integrated into a class, or independent assignment activity to introduce or reinforce classroom topics?
  3. Identify pathways that are over-represented within experimental data sets.
    1. What is pathway over-representation? What are the pValues assigned to these matches telling me?
    2. What can I learn from this analysis?
  4. Use Reactome, an open-source, open access, manually-curated and peer-reviewed pathway knowledgebase.
    1. Practicing all of these objectives within the Reactome framework.
  5. Describe ID mapping, pathway assignment and over-representation analysis and include these analysis as modules within a classroom setting.
    1. Best practices for summarizing pathway data analysis for students and faculty.
    2. Common pitfalls

Previous Webinars

Academic Service Learning (AS-L) in an Undergraduate Pharmacology Course
May 13, 2015

Presenter: Blase Billack, St. John's University, Jamaica, NY

Academic service learning (AS-L) is a type of active learning in which a student demonstrates knowledge and understanding of course objectives through service to the community and reflection. The activity directs the student to “know by doing.” In this manner, the student, in effect, becomes a “teacher” during the service project. AS-L differs from community service in that the service portion of AS-L is a pedagogical component of the course, demonstrating in a tangible way to the student that he or she has mastered one or more of the course concepts well enough to effectively pass them on to another. The reflection component allows the student to understand his or her strengths and allows the student to remediate learning deficiencies that may have been exposed during the service component. All in all, AS-L is a powerful and achievable way of engaging students in the classroom and giving them ownership of the coursework knowledge.

Learning Objectives:

  • Define academic service learning (AS-L).
  • Understand how AS-L differs from community outreach or community service.
  • Explain how AS-L can be incorporated into an undergraduate toxicology course.
  • Describe the challenges and rewards associated with incorporating AS-L into a course.
  • Outline the types of administrative support that can enhance the AS-L experience.


  1. Introduction to AS-L as a mode of active learning
  2. Description of the AS-L project carried out in my Intro Pharmacology Course
  3. Successes and potential pitfalls of the project
  4. Student reflections
  5. Ways of improving the project in the future
  6. Summary


Webinar Recording
Presentation Slides

Evidence-Based Instructional Practices in Undergraduate Science Courses
April 8, 2015

Presenter: Bethany Bowling, Northern Kentucky University, Highland Heights, KY
Moderator: Joshua Gray, United States Coast Guard Academy, New London, CT

Participants will learn the basics of effective instructional practices, reflect on their own teaching, and identify their needs for the classroom. A number of resources to assist in incorporating evidence-based practices will be provided.

This webinar is appropriate for anyone teaching an undergraduate science course who is interested in improving student learning or those who are planning to teach undergraduate courses.

Pre-Webinar Assignment

Faculty will reflect on their teaching using the Teaching Practices Inventory and complete a pre-webinar questionnaire.

Please fill out the inventory prior to attendance to the webinar, no later than Monday, April 6.  Discussions in the webinar will be guided in part by answers on these documents.  If you cannot fill out the inventory, you can still attend the webinar.

Learning Outcomes

Participants will be able to:

  • list qualities of evidence-based instructional practices
  • measure their use of evidence-based instructional practices
  • identify areas within their teaching to incorporate evidence-based instructional practices
  • find resources for incorporating evidenced-based instructional practices

Webinar Structure

  • Overview of characteristics of evidence-based teaching practices (based on pre-questionnaire findings, including experience, and interests of participants)
  • Discussion of Teaching Practices Inventory and reflection on our own teaching
  • Two examples: Course-based research involving bioinformatics a mid-level genetics course and problem-based team learning in an introductory biology course


Freeman, Scott, et al. “Active learning increases student performance in science, engineering, and mathematics.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2014): 201319030.

National Research Council. Reaching Students: What Research Says About Effective Instruction in Undergraduate Science and Engineering. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2015.

National Research Council. Discipline-Based Education Research: Understanding and Improving Learning in Undergraduate Science and Engineering. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2012.


Webinar Recording
Presentation Slides

The Use of Technology to Teach Toxicology and Related Disciplines
June 23, 2014

The third webinar in the 2013–2014 Undergraduate Educator Network series focused on the use of technology in and outside of the classroom. The webinar was moderated by Joshua Gray, US Coast Guard Academy.

Angela Slitt discussed the “Use of Twitter® to Engage Freshman in Learning Current Toxicology Concepts and Topics.” Dr. Slitt, University of Rhode Island, recently taught a “Grand Challenges” course designed to engage college freshman in the problems of toxicology and how to communicate toxicology to the broader community. She shared her experiences using Twitter® as a tool for communicating scientific knowledge.

Christine Curran of Northern Kentucky University focused on “Rapid Response Systems: From High-Tech to No-Tech.” She covered the logistics, costs, and implementation of response systems based on experience in her courses. She also reviewed the use of quizzing technologies common on Blackboard and other course content software packages.

Emily Notch of Dartmouth and Western New England University highlighted “Free Polling Software to Engage Students and Assess in Class Group Activities.” She featured two free platforms, Socrative and Poll Everywhere, which she has used in her classes and at the In Vitro Luncheon at the 2014 SOT Annual Meeting. She briefly touched on general polling to address student comprehension of material and focused more on some of the aspects of the free software that are pros and cons for choosing either one. She also highlighted how she used the exit polling for post-POGIL group activities.


Webinar Recording
Presentation Slides

Education and Enrichment Activities for Educators
January 28, 2014

Presenter: Sue Ford, St. John’s University, Jamaica, NY
Moderator: Joshua Gray, United States Coast Guard Academy, New London, CT
Panelists: Pamela Hanson, Birmingham-Southern College, Birmingham, AL and Diane Hardej, St. John’s University, Jamaica, NY

National undergraduate biology education initiatives challenge faculty to thoughtfully design courses to increase biological literacy via student-centered learning, incorporate more research experiences, expand interdisciplinary content, adopt pedagogically-sound practices, evaluate and improve approaches, and cultivate these strategies across the campus. This is indeed a challenge! This webinar will provide information about professional development opportunities so that you can enrich your teaching portfolio.

The presenter will describe the many resources available whether you are a junior faculty member starting a teaching career or senior faculty striving for updated pedagogy. Online communities such as ToXchange and PULSE provide the opportunity to exchange ideas with faculty in other institutions. The National Academies, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and professional societies sponsor meetings and teaching institutes across the country to disseminate information about successful new teaching strategies to increase learning outcomes. In addition, there are several journals and online resources devoted to teaching in science disciplines that are valuable resources for educators.


Webinar Recording
Presentation Slides

Having It All: Teaching, Research, and Service At a Small Liberal Arts College: A Toxicologist’s Perspective
November 19, 2013

Presenter: Larissa M. Williams, Associate Professor, Bates College, Lewiston, ME
Moderator: Joshua Gray, Associate Professor, United States Coast Guard Academy, New London, CT
Panelists: Eli Hestermann, Assistant Professor, Furman University, Greenville, SC;
Eva Oberdorster, Senior Lecturer, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, TX; and
Gregory Hall, Associate Professor, United States Coast Guard Academy and Accreditation Liaison, New London, CT, Officer, New England Association of Schools and Colleges


  1. Describe the liberal arts undergraduate teaching and research model
  2. Outline the (varied) expectations of the liberal arts faculty 
  3. Delineate the role of toxicologists within this framework and SOT resources to meet this end

In the United States, small liberal arts schools strive to provide a broad, comprehensive, and residential educational experience to undergraduate students. The job of an academic at a small liberal arts school is to be an excellent teacher-scholar, who excels in both the classroom and laboratory. Additionally, due to the close nature of the college community, service is also an important component. Dr. Williams discussed the challenges and opportunities that exist at a small liberal arts school, especially as it relates to weaving toxicology into both the classroom and laboratory. The panelists elaborated on some of these as well as explaining unique aspects for each.


Webinar Recording
Presentation Slides
Responses of Panelists to Questions

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