Amy Hark: Great Teachers, Great Courses

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Dr. Amy Hark, associate professor of biology and co-director of the biochemistry program at Muhlenberg College, wants her students to look beyond the classroom and see the impact the subjects they are studying have in the wider world.

Students in Biochemistry correlate the chemical structure of molecules with biological function. Their class assignments require them to apply their previous knowledge of biology and chemistry, along with new information they encounter throughout the semester, to interpret scientific research and to frame contemporary topics in the field. For example, by examining details of creating proteins in cells, students can recognize ways in which the process can be altered – to treat disease or change the functionality of a protein and a living system.

Hark’s class also learns to connect their study of the activity in cells to other scientific disciplines, including genetics and physiology. Students are challenged to relate the material in the course to larger issues, such as the development of new organisms, the distinction between medicine and healing and the influence peer review and intellectual bias have in affecting the future of scientific research.

By working to form a group dynamic, students learn, together, how biochemistry relates to other areas of discourse, both in academia and society.

"I try to guide them to make connections and to understand how science functions, both within and outside the confines of a classroom or laboratory,” says Hark.

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