At first glance, it would have been easy to mistake Dr. Linda Martin-Morris’ neuropharmacology class for a drama or English course.
After all, it’s not every day that a biology teacher works skits and magazine publishing into the syllabus.
But outside-the-box assignments helped make Dr. Martin-Morris a well-regarded lecturer with the thousands of students she’s led since joining the UW in 1994. Not just that, but Dr. Martin-Morris’ friendly demeanor and passion for science led one UWAA member to nominate her for a feature in this space.
Dr. Martin-Morris’ projects and emphasis on team learning in Biology 100 helped students from other majors understand–and enjoy–the brainier side of biology and how drug use impacts neurological functions. “I’ve got drama people in the class, and I’ve got artists in the class,” Dr. Martin-Morris said. “I wanted to make assignments that honor the various skills they bring to the table, not just research and writing skills.”
The long-running class was shelved after the winter 2009 term, despite a student-driven petition to keep the course going. “What my students lost—and what my future students lost—is the opportunity to take a course that was relevant to their world,” Dr. Martin-Morris said. She currently teaches courses on cellular and molecular biology, and how to teach biology.
The spirit of the class lives on. Dr. Martin-Morris, a senior lecturer who will on Sept. 16 be promoted to principal lecturer, is in the third year of a four-year grant project funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
The grant enables Dr. Martin-Morris to train 18 high school teachers around the state as part of the UW in the High School program, which allows high school students to earn UW credit. She led the latest workshop in early August, and is excited that the lessons are finding new audiences. “I refer to this grant project as ‘Bio 100 goes worldwide,’” she said. “There’s a rebirth.”