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Statement on Inclusivity in STEM

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The Ralston Lab believes that scientific progress depends on diverse skills and perspectives. We welcome all willing and hardworking participants, regardless of gender, race, beliefs, or socioeconomic or cultural background. The Ralston Lab also believes that scientific progress depends on multiple parallel efforts to increase participation in science and the diversity of people with scientific degrees. Some of the ways that we work to promote inclusivity in STEM are described below.


Professor Ralston is enthusiastic about using active learning approaches that increase student participation in the classroom. To promote interaction, Dr. Ralston uses clickers and walks through the classroom, sitting down with students, and encouraging brief discussions. Dr. Ralston also uses visual aids, including movies, 3D models to illustrate abstract processes. Dr. Ralston hand-draws lecture slides in class to show students how to think and learn visually.


Visual aids that illustrate central concepts in developmental biology, including some created by previous undergraduate students(left to right): 3D teaching tool to demonstrate the developmental process of mouse embryo turning, origami fate-mapping project, fabric model of cell movements through the primitive streak, charcoal drawings illustrating early zebrafish development, 3D mouse blastocyst model.

To model real-life scientific investigation, Dr. Ralston shows students how to frame hypotheses, and how to propose experiments and appropriate controls to test hypotheses. Dr. Ralston's team has also developed the first exercise to teach students how to write scientific manuscripts using cartoon data, available here.

Undergraduate Courses Taught

  • Developmental Biology (University of California Santa Cruz, BIOL 120)
  • Introductory Biology (Michigan State University, BS161)
  • Advanced Biochemistry (Michigan State University, BMB462)

Graduate Courses Taught

  • Advanced Developmental Biology (University of California Santa Cruz, BIOL 200D)
  • Advanced Topics in Reproduction and Development (MSU, ANS9815)
  • Chromatin Dynamics and Gene Expression in Development (MSU, BMB960)

Teaching Awards

  • 2011 Universal Design of Instruction Award, Disability Resource Center, UCSC
  • 2011 Commencement Speaker, Biology Year End Celebration (Biograd), UCSC
  • 2013 Favorite Faculty, Stephenson College Commencement Ceremony, UCSC
  • 2013 Finalist, Excellence in Teaching Award, Committee on Teaching, UCSC

Career-Life Balance

Professor Ralston is strongly committed to making STEM accessible for working parents and scientists with other family commitments. Additional information is available here.

~ Header image of invertebrate gastrulation by E. Haeckel. ~ Last updated 2023 with OMNI CMS by M. Halbisen.