• Postdoctoral, Washington University (Cellular and Molecular Biology)
  • Postdoctoral, Macalester College (Molecular Genetics)
  • Ph.D. Johns Hopkins University (Biology)
  • B.S. Davidson College (Biology)

Areas of Expertise

  • Synthetic Biology
  • Introductory Biology (majors and non-majors)
  • Writing in Science


I have published education research showing that our approach to introductory biology is more effective than the traditional approach. I have written three textbooks and two laboratory manuals that accompany the two introductory biology courses (majors and non-majors). 

My students have conducted synthetic biology research where they designed and built biological machines. Some of these 200+ students have pursued research or medical career paths, and others have pursued a wide variety of different jobs. 


The summer 2015 team of Davidson biology and mathematics students collaborated with a team from Davidson and Missouri Western State University to invent a new method to produce medication more efficiently?coordinated a new offshoot of programmed evolution.

To expand the potential of programmed evolution, our current students are busy inventing a new method we call CellEX as an in vivo method to identify new aptamer sequences and riboswitches that can bind to novel ligands. This project will expand the capacity of investigators to use programmed evolution to optimize the production of their favorite metabolite for real-world applications. For our proof-of-concept project, students are exploring the eight-membered xanthine family of molecules.


  • BIO 105 Biology for Life (with lab non-STEM majors)
  • BIO 113 Integrating Concepts in Biology (with lab)
  • WRI 101 Fake News, Real Science first year writing course
  • BIO 370-373 Independent Study
STEM Education in the United States

What is the most effective way for students to learn in STEM fields? Malcolm Campbell, who co-authored a recent e-textbook that has received high praise from educators and scientists, says students who learn through active engagement in the classroom will be the most successful at retaining the information.