Biology Core Curriculum

College of Letters & Science

Michelle Harris

Biocore Program
307 Noland Hall, 250 North Mills Street

My primary interest is in biological science education, particularly inquiry-based methods for laboratory instruction. I tremendously enjoy teaching honors students in the Biocore Cell Biology and Organismal Biology labs! Another important aspect of my job is to mentor graduate and undergraduate teaching assistants and undergraduate researchers. Click here to see a summary of three of these undergraduate research projects. Finally, I am the mentor for the Biocore Outreach Ambassador Program, begun in 2004 by Biocore students interested in working with local rural schools to improve science education.

My graduate training is in functional morphology, or the way that form affects function in animals and humans. My dissertation work focused on the morphological and physiological determinants of maximal leaping performance in domestic cats. Specifically, I found that hind limb length and body fat composition significantly influence leaping performance in cats.

My current research focuses on biological science education. I recently completed a study of how our cell biology lab students best learn about relationships between molecular structure and function. I have also collaborated with graduate students and post-docs on three recent projects to develop and assess new instructional materials for our Biocore students.

In addition to my Biocore activities, I enjoy teaching the ICBE's Undergraduate Research Seminar for undergraduates beginning work in a faculty lab. Since 2005 I have been fortunate to facilitate the Delta Program's Expeditions in Learning Seminar for graduate students, post-docs, and faculty.


B.S. - U. of Illinois-Urbana, Teaching of Biology

M.S. - UW-Madison, Zoology

Ph.D. - UW-Madison, Zoology