As promised in April, Focus on Ecampus is going to revisit Brian Tanis, an OSU doctoral student in the Integrative Biology program. Brian is working on some pretty interesting things!

He continues:

After graduating, I hope to remain within academia, teaching courses and conducting research. To build upon my teaching skills, I am working on completing the Graduate Certificate in College and University Teaching. As part of the program I chose to take “Instruments and Online Interactions in the Sciences” (CH 584) through the Chemistry Ecampus program.

I am originally from New Jersey and completed my undergraduate degrees in Biology and Ecology from Susquehanna University in PA. Following graduation, I moved to Kansas where I worked on a Master’s degree at Fort Hays State University, researching the impacts of wind energy turbines on the scavenging mammal community. Currently, I am working towards a PhD in Zoology at Oregon State University, where I am focusing on exploring the dynamic interactions between apex predators and meso-predators over the past 11,000 years. This will hopefully give us a better idea of how interactions between predators change and how that impacts the ecosystem as a whole.

I have always been interested in learning more about the patterns seen in nature and passing that information on to others. As an undergraduate, I became involved with a variety of research projects, and quickly developed a love for scientific research. As an undergraduate I also got the opportunity to work as a teaching assistant, and found it was very rewarding to help people make connections between materials and clarify difficult concepts. I decided that I would like to remain within academia and continue to try to make advances in my field, and to share those advances with as many students as possible.

I decided to take “Instruments and Online Interactions in the Sciences” because more universities and students are looking for non-traditional methods for higher education. The course offered a great opportunity to learn about how to best implement science courses, which typically rely on physical laboratories, into a virtual setting without sacrificing any of the information for students. Not only did we cover techniques and tools used within a virtual classroom, but we also covered key concepts in designing courses and the rationale behind developing assignments and activities. This type of knowledge really makes me more marketable to future employers and improves my abilities in the courses I currently teach.

As far as advice for other online students, one of the most challenging aspects of any online course is staying up to date with the material and assignments without the structure of a traditional classroom. I highly recommend that online students seriously devote a set amount of time each day to going over the course materials. Also, be sure to use the instructor and your fellow students as resources. Sometimes, an online course can make students feel isolated, but it is easy to reach out over the internet and make connections or ask for clarification. Often, your instructor and classmates will be glad to discuss the material and help out with more challenging concepts.

In the near future, I will be working on collecting and analyzing data for my dissertation, which I hope to complete in the next 3 years. After that, I will be looking for post-doctoral positions to further my teaching and research abilities, before looking for full time employment at a university or museum.

Thanks to Brian for sharing his story!

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