Evidence-Based Medicine course

I developed and teach an innovative inquiry-based course ECOL379 Evidence-Based Medicine. Students learn the scientific method via the paradigm of the randomized controlled trial, and as a capstone, carry out as a class project a trial of their own design. Probability and statistics are taught as they arise in their medical context, including an emphasis on applications of Bayes’ theorem (eg to mammography and to Ioannidis’ work on “Why Most Published Research Findings are False“. All quantitative material is motivated by rich contextual examples, in such a way as to develop quantitative intuition. Students show significant improvements in quantitative reasoning post-course vs. pre-course (Masel 2015). The history and politics of medicine are also discussed extensively. It is a "flipped" classroom, with activities during classtime and extensive online materials, including many online quizzes, out of class. I am interested in disseminating this course to other institutions: please email me if you are interested, and I will send you extensive course materials.

Tools developed for this course include two apps on

Press coverage of the class and class projects include

Other courses

Together with Anna Dornhaus, I also teach an introductory course on mathematical modeling in biology. This course emphasizes scientific method, through exploring the variety of roles mathematical models play, e.g. rejecting a hypothesis by showing that it is not internally consistent vs. generating experimentally testable predictions. It develops students' ability to "skip the math" in order to focus on the big picture while reading a theory paper, as well as their ability to read an equation when needed, and to generate simple programs in Mathematica.

Together with Lucas Mix, I once ran a 5-semester long discussion group on Chance, Purpose and Progress in Evolution and Religion, that could also be taken for credit as ECOL524.

In the more distant past I have taught Introductory Biology 182, Genetics 320, and the graduate core course Fundamentals of Evolution 600A.

Institutional change

I am an advocate for faculty adopting more effective and inclusive teaching practices, and lead a pilot initiative at the University of Arizona to promote this, by providing resources to support faculty through the time-consuming process of making meaningful change.