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Teaching and Mentoring

From Bench-side to the Classroom 

Summer Research Opportunities Program (SROP) at MSU is a 10-week research-intensive experience where students from the US and its territories receive training at an R01 institution. I was selected in 2015 to enter SROP MSU research experience and now I am a graduate mentor/facilitator. I have mentored 32 students in total for 2017 and 2019 from disciplines in the Social/Behavior Sciences (SBS) and STEM. 

SROP 2019As a graduate mentor, I conduct weekly meetings to assist students on science communications in forms of chalk talks (SROP talks), formal presentations, and written deliverables. Additionally, I met with my students with weekly check-ins that included verbal feedback, wellness, and graduate school preparations. Students I have mentored have been admitted into graduate schools such as Northwestern in Chicago and Michigan State University and gained employment at government agencies, universities, and other institutions.  

In Fall 2019, I had the opportunity to teach through a Teaching Assistantship (TA) for the Biological Sciences Program at MSU Cells and Molecules course (BS161). I taught weekly review sessions and hosted office hours to help students practice core biological concepts. Shortly after my TA-ship, I was awarded the 2020 Michigan State University Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Award.

I used the teaching and mentoring experiences to provide examples of how the results of research experiments become core concepts in biology courses and how core concepts serve to guide research questions in the laboratory or office. 

Check out the students' reviews for BS161:


"...I really really appreciate the time and effort you put into the slides [for the review sessions]. It's been really helpful and I just wanted to give you a personal thank you..." - Student A

"...I wanted to thank you for being so awesome. You were such a big help to me and so many others and I really learned a lot from you." - Student B

"...I started off rocky, but [the professors] have a great team, especially Jenn who sat with me for many hours through this semester helping me understand. [The professor's] team has made me truly have an interest in Biology that I didn't have before..." - Student C

General Survey Comment:

"...Jenn Watts I could write a book on how helpful she has been. She has gone out of her way to make her review slides which are so helpful, before or after class she has always helped me. Always help me come up with acronyms to help me learn. She has been amazing!!" - Student D

Survey Question: What aspects of this course (e.g. readings, in-class activities, assignments, quizzes, exams) were most helpful for your learning?  Please explain your answer:

"Going to Jenn Watts study sessions..." - Student E

"I found review sessions with Jenn to be very helpful in preparation for the exams." - Student F

"Jenn's review sessions were definitely my main source of studying as well as making LOTS of flashcards based on the posted lecture slides." - Student G

Preimplantation Embryos