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Pat MarstellerProfessor of Practice Emerita


  • Ph.D., University of Florida, 1985
  • M.S., University of South Carolina, 1978
  • B.S., University of Maryland, 1969

Research Area

  • Population Biology, Evolution, and Ecology
  • Computational Biology

Graduate Program Affiliation

  • Population Biology, Ecology and Evolution

Teaching Philosophy

I believe we must teach science to prospective scientists and non-science concentrators in ways that foster critical evaluation of both evidence and potential consequences. 

From the very first course, we can teach students to think like scientists, to evaluate and weigh evidence, to communicate clearly and to place scientific data in context.  Instead of focusing on science as a body of knowledge, we can allow students to inquire, investigate and communicate. Inquiry-based approaches such as problem-based learning (PBL) and investigative case based learning (ICBL) have documented success in enhancing conceptual understanding and increasing skills in problem solving, critical thinking, communication and self-assessment. By using complex, authentic problems to trigger investigation in lab and library, students develop critical thinking, problem solving, and collaborative skills. These methods allow students to experience science integrated with other disciplines such as mathematics (graphs, statistics), history (social, economic and political context of the issue), and language arts (conveying research results) and enhance their capacity for creative and responsible real-world problem solving. Inquiry science courses can integrate ethical dimensions of science. Debates on cloning, DNA testing, limits of prediction, and potential perils as well as benefits of science deepen understanding for all students.  Combining such approaches with practice in communicating science to different audiences creates engaged scholars and a scientifically literate public.

 directed the Emory College Center for Science Education from 1997- 2016,  and  I still direct the Emory HHMI initiative (since 1990) and a bunch of other science education programs.My particular interests include promoting access, interest and participation in science careers. I am interested in improving science literacy and providing hands-on research for undergraduates and curriculum development experiences for graduate students and faculty. I develop programs that focus on attracting and retaining underrepresented students, women and minorities in careers in science.  I helped to begin the Summer Undergraduate Research at Emory (SURE) program and also have a HHMI/SIRE collaboration for introducing first and second years to research.

I use cases and PBL in my teaching and give workshops for faculty and future faculty at all kinds of colleges and universities from community colleges to research universities and from all science and math departments to public health and nursing. My workshops focus on sources of problems and cases, adapting existing cases and writing new one.  I also works with pre-college faculty on developing case based curriculum materials and on using active learning strategies in the teaching of science and mathematics.

I studied evolution of animal behavior for my MS degree at University of South Carolina and quantitative genetics and evolution of life history patterns for my PhD at the University of Florida.