Dr. Jessica Poulin, Biological Sciences
Dr. Jessica Poulin received her Ph.D. at the University of California, Irvine in 2005. Her research background is in Evolutionary Ecology, specifically Conservation Biology and Botany; she has since moved away from lab/field research into the study of science education at the college level. Her work takes two approaches: course development and course tool development. Her course development focus is on designing and implementing new courses as well as employing new teaching techniques to improve content transfer to and retention of students. The overarching goal is to enhance the broader experience of being a student in the Department of Biological Sciences. In terms of course tools, she spent several years focused on how computer simulation can help educate students to intuitively understand evolutionary biology, population genetics, and, most recently, Mendelian genetics. Pop!World, developed through collaboration with the Computer Science and Engineering department, is the tool allowing college-level students to explore the five microevolutionary forces and see their effect in real time, an experience unavailable in traditional wet-lab environments. Current Pop!World development includes versions for entering college/lower level students in Medelian genetics and advanced/graduate students in evolutionary studies. In an effort to study how new courses and course tools affect student learning and experience she implements rigorous data collection to help shape future methods.