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Chris BeckTeaching Professor


  • B.S., The College of William and Mary, 1993
  • Ph.D., University of Georgia, 1999

Research Area

  • Biology Laboratory Education
  • Population Biology, Evolution, and Ecology


Teaching Philosophy

Over the last several decades, our knowledge of biological systems has increased exponentially.  Congruent with that, the expectations of what our students should know also seem to have increased.  Introductory biology textbooks now have broken the 1000-page barrier.  Texts in the sub-disciplines I teach (ecology and organismal biology) are comparable in their scope.  During my time teaching at Emory, I have come to realize that we shouldn't be expected to teach the expanse of our disciplines (or sub-disciplines, for that matter) to our students.  Instead, we should empower our students with the skills that they need to confront the questions presented to them by our disciplines.  In other words, we should not attempt to teach students science, but teach them to be scientists.  If we teach them to be scientists, they will learn the science along the way.

Research Lab Description

I am interested in scientific studies of laboratory teaching. In particular, I am working on how aspects of course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs) influence student outcomes. We are investigating the importance of student autonomy in framing research questions on student self-efficacy and science identity, and whether these relations vary among students, institutions, and course levels. To this end, in collaboration with Dr. Nicole Gerardo at Emory and Dr. Larry Blumer at Morehouse College, we have developed a national-level CURE exploring the microbiome of the bean beetle Callosobruchus maculatus.

In addition to discipline-based education research, students in my lab conduct evolutionary ecology and microbiome research with the bean beetle. Much of the research focuses on the effect of diet type on life history traits, as well as ways in which diet might influence the microbiome of the beetles.