Recognition for Ann Miller’s teaching:

  • 2019 Award for Teaching Excellence, University of Michigan, Program in Biology
  • 2018 Class of 1923 Memorial Teaching Award for outstanding teaching of undergraduates, University of Michigan, LSA
  • 2017 Instructional Development Fund Award from the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching (CRLT)

Educational Objectives.  I have the opportunity to interact with many undergraduate and graduate students in the classroom and my research lab each year.  It is my goal to teach them the key concepts in Cell Biology and introduce them to the excitement of discovery.  A major challenge I face as a teacher is to bring the excitement of discovery into the classroom setting.  I want to convey to my students that scientific knowledge is a continuum, and that new discoveries constantly cause us to re-evaluate our understanding of Cell Biology.  Additionally, I want to expose students to the research we are doing in my lab.  Therefore, I incorporate the research we do in my lab in my seminar and lecture courses.  There is strong evidence that taking a “scientific teaching” approach in the classroom, including incorporating active learning and engaging students in the scientific process, improves learning and knowledge retention.  My expectation is that effectively applying “scientific teaching” approaches will lead to positive outcomes including training students to be capable of analytical and scientific thinking, and as a result, more students will be encouraged to pursue science as a career.  I currently teach two courses for undergraduates: a small seminar course on Cytoskeletal Dynamics and co-teach a Cell Biology lecture course.

Fundamentals of Cell Biology (BIO 272). Fundamentals of Cell Biology is a course I co-developed and co-teach.  It is an intermediate-level Cell Biology course aimed at Sophomores and Juniors.  The course introduces students to essential principles that guide our understanding of cellular structure, function, and behavior.  We emphasize central concepts in Cell Biology including: cellular components and architecture, membrane structure, protein targeting and translocation, membrane trafficking, cell signaling, cytoskeleton, cell division cycle, and cell communities.  The objective of this course is for students to acquire a basic understanding of the fundamental concepts in Cell Biology, develop a general understanding of experimental approaches and model systems used to study Cell Biology, and become comfortable with speaking in the specialized vocabulary used to describe Cell Biology.  Moreover it is my goal to get students excited about Cell Biology and curios to learn more.  To this end, during each class we discuss a “Cell of the Day” to highlight the beauty and diversity of cells and what we can learn about them.  I also highlight “The Scientists Behind the Science” to introduce the students to some of the people who made the discoveries we are discussing in class.  I aim to highlight a diverse group of scientists (career stage, gender, race) so that students may see themselves reflected in these successful scientists and aspire to make discoveries themselves in the future.

Cytoskeletal Dynamics (MCDB 454).  This is a small, advanced Cell Biology course aimed at seniors or 1st year graduate students.  It uses primary literature as a tool to discuss key concepts and techniques related to the cytoskeleton.  One of the modules of the course is focused on cytokinesis, so this gives me an opportunity to share the latest results of the research in my lab.  My approach for this class is to provide the instructional scaffolding students need to become independent learners while developing a mechanistic understanding of the cytoskeleton.  I first introduce students to key concepts by having them read a review article and giving a short introductory lecture.  Then, I have the students do a group work exercise that applies key concepts covered in the lecture.  Next, I introduce important methodology the students need to know to understand a primary research article, which they read prior to the next class session.  The primary literature articles I choose are exciting, cutting-edge research papers, and in class we dissect the articles by discussing the experiments, quality of data, and whether appropriate conclusions were drawn.  The objective of this course is that the students become familiar with our current understanding of cytoskeletal dynamics and the cellular processes that are regulated by the cytoskeleton, such as cytokinesis.  Further, students should be able to read, interpret, and critically evaluate experimental data published in scientific journals.

Cell Biology (MCDB 428). I have co-taught this 100-150 student course aimed at junior and senior Biology majors.  MCDB 428 is a challenging course that covers topics including membrane structure, posttranslational protein transport, membrane trafficking, cell signaling, cytoskeleton, cell cycle, apoptosis, cell-cell and cell-matrix adhesion, and cancer.  The course includes lectures as well as discussion sections where students read and discuss primary literature related to the lecture topics with Graduate Student Instructors and give group presentations about cell biological mechanisms of disease.  My approach for this class is lecture-based, and I work to keep the students engaged with the material in the large classroom setting in several ways. For example, I often use the “think, pair, share” approach, where I pose a question and ask students to think about the answer then discuss it with someone nearby; then I ask for volunteers to share their answers with the full class.  I also introduce important techniques that are used in Cell Biology in class and ask students to interpret data from primary literature or design experiments that would test a given question on exams.  The objective of this course is for students to develop a detailed mechanistic understanding of Cell Biology topics.

Fall 2020
Fundamentals of Cell Biology (BIO 272) – course will be offered in a remote format due to COVID-19

Winter 2020
Fundamentals of Cell Biology (BIO 272) – transitioned to remote teaching and taught 11/14 topics online due to COVID-19

Winter 2019
Fundamentals of Cell Biology (BIO 272)

Winter 2018
Fundamentals of Cell Biology (BIO 272)

Fall 2017
Cytoskeletal Dynamics (MCDB 454)

Winter 2017
Cell Biology (MCDB 428)

Winter 2016
Cell Biology (MCDB 428)

Fall 2015
Experimental Models in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology (MCDB 614)
Cytokinesis and Cell Junctions (MCDB 800)

Winter 2015
Cell Biology (MCDB 428)

Fall  2014
Cytoskeletal Dynamics (MCDB 454)

Winter 2014
Cell Biology (MCDB 428)

Winter 2013 
Cell Biology (MCDB 428)

Fall 2012 
Cell Biology of the Cytoskeleton (MCDB 401)

Winter 2012 
Guest Lecture: Cell Cycle Control and Cancer (MCDB 401)
LSA Teaching Academy

Fall 2011 
Experimental Models in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology (MCDB 614)
LSA Teaching Academy

Independent research for undergrads: MCDB300, MCDB400, UROP. 

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