Undergrad wins student teaching award

Biochemistry student Jeannette Bowler first tried her hand at teaching in Lecturer Elizabeth Runquist’s fall 2013 biochemistry lab course, where the SF State senior worked as a teaching assistant.

Photo of biochemistry student Jeannette Bowler

Jeannette Bowler, biochemistry senior, received the Crellin Pauling Student Teaching Award for outstanding biotech instruction.

“It was one of the most challenging and rewarding jobs I’d ever had,” said Bowler. “We prepped all the materials for each lab, then had to be ready to answer any student questions day-of.”

Bowler’s teaching skills were recognized this month when she was awarded the 2014 Crellin Pauling Student Teaching Award at the 26th annual CSU Biotechnology Symposium Jan. 9-11. The award includes a $1,750 academic scholarship.

Named for Professor Crellin Pauling, chair of SF State’s Department of Biology from 1982 to 1992, the Student Teaching Award honors CSU students who show aptitude for teaching biotechnology subjects.

“With science especially, I think teachers should dive deeper into less material,” said Bowler, who plans to pursue a postgraduate degree to become a professor. “Students should be introduced to research labs as early as possible. It’s the best way to show them how scientific progress actually works.” 

In conjunction with teaching, Bowler worked for two years as a research assistant to Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry Weiming Wu, with whom she co-authored two scientific papers.

“Jeannette has done a superb job as a laboratory assistant,” said Wu. “She served as the leader of her own laboratory project, supervising the work of three undergraduate students who were new to our laboratory.”

The most challenging aspect of teaching scientific principles is helping students relate what they’re learning to the real world, said Bowler.

At the 2013 Bay Area Science Festival, Bowler shared her love of science with elementary students, using oil, water and food coloring to demonstrate the rules of density at her “Lava in a Cup” activity booth.

“The kids were observing and thinking about the lava cup, which is a small step towards becoming interested in how the world works,” said Bowler. “When I’m teaching I want to help students think critically, lead them to the right answer but let them figure it out themselves.”

Bowler expects to graduate in May with a bachelor of science in biochemistry. She is currently considering postgraduate programs in biomedical science or biochemistry with the goals of earning a professorship and running her own lab.

-- Gianna Devoto