You are here

Deena Wassenberg

You are here

Title

Deena Wassenberg
Teaching Associate Professor, Associate Director of Undergraduate Studies for Biology majors

Department:

Degrees earned

  • Ph.D. Environmental Toxicology; Duke University Nicholas School of the Environment; Richard Di Giulio Adviser
  • B.S. Zoology and Biological Aspects of Conservation; University of Wisconsin-Madison

BioSketch | Curriculum Vitae


Research interests

Scientific teaching; affecting acceptance of publicly controversial topics (ex. anthropogenic climate change, evolution, reproductive health) in undergraduate students; improving group function in team-learning environments; student knowledge of sex and sexual health.

Awards and honors

  • Golden Pipette Award – Most Personable Professor Spring 2014
  • National Academies Education Fellow in the Life Sciences. 2007-2008
  • Science To Achieve Results (STAR) Fellowship, US EPA 1999-2002

Research statement

I am interested in how students learn, what facilitates learning, and what prevents learning. One topic of interest to me is how students deal with topics that are scientifically straightforward, but publicly controversial. I am interested in how we as educators can teach students to let data drive their understanding of scientific topics such as evolution, anthropogenic climate change, sexual health, and the impact of vaccines on public health. I am interested in studying how we can better teach students to use scientific skills when addressing these topics of public controversy.

Teaching statement

I think each of my students has the capacity to use science in their daily lives. By fostering scientific skills in our students we empower them to engage in the science they encounter in their everyday lives, whether that be by reading an article about a science topic in the popular press or running a controlled experiment in their kitchen or garden. When available I use data to inform my teaching methods, and where data aren’t available, I collect some. I think the scientific techniques we use to gain understanding about the natural world should also inform our teaching.

Favorite teaching innovation or approach

When I am teaching in classrooms that have white board room for each group, I ask the students to diagram experiments, food webs, biogeochemical cycles, list hypotheses, or sketch data graphs they have generated. Sometimes I have students revise their drawings as they learn more, or we will use the white boards to run an informal poster session to present their research results to other groups. Students are often reluctant to leave their seats initially, but when they do, I see engaged and lively conversations about the material and I see students behaving as colleagues.

Courses taught

  • Biol 1003 – Evolution and Biology of Sex
  • Biol 1050/1055 – Environmental Biology: Science and Solutions
  • Biol 1905 – Freshman seminars (A Novel Environment – Literature and the Environment)
  • Biol 2003 – Foundations of Biology II

Representative publications

Kudrna, J.*, Shore, M. and D. Wassenberg. (accepted with revisions) The Role of Need for Cognition (NFC) in Introductory Biology Students’ Acceptance of Anthropogenic Climate Change (ACC) and Evolution.

Brooker, R., D. Matthes, R. Wright, D. Wassenberg, S. Wick, and B. Couch. (2013) SCALE-UP in a Large Introductory Biology Course. In, Connected Science: Strategies for Integrative Learning in College, T. Ferrett, J. Stewart and W. Schlegel, eds. Indiana University Press (part of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning series). Due for publication in May, 2013.

Alexeyenko A, Wassenberg DM, Lobenhofer, EK, Yen J, Sonnhammer ELL, Linney E, Meyer JN. (2010). Dynamic zebrafish interactome reveals transcriptional mechanisms of dioxin toxicity. PLoS One 5(5) e10465.

Billiard SM, Meyer JN, Wassenberg DM, Hodson, PV, Di Giulio, RT. (2008). Non-additive effects of PAHs on early vertebrate development: mechanisms and implications for risk assessment. Toxicological Sciences 105(1):5-23.

Wassenberg, D.M., Nerlinger, A.L.*, Battle, L.P. and Di Giulio, R.T. (2005). Effects of the PAH-heterocycles, carbazole and dibenzothiophene, on in vivo and in vitro CYP1A activity and PAH-derived embryotoxicity. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 24(10), 2526-2532.

Wassenberg, D.M. and Di Giulio, R.T. (2004) Synergistic embryotoxicity of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon aryl hydrocarbon receptor agonists with cytochrome P4501A inhibitors in Fundulus heteroclitus. Environmental Health Perspectives 112(17), 1658-1664.

Wassenberg, D.M. and Di Giulio, R.T. (2004). Teratogenesis in Fundulus heteroclitus embryos exposed to a creosote-contaminated sediment extract and CYP1A inhibitors. Marine Environmental Research 58, 163-168.

Meyer, J. N., Wassenberg, D. M., Karchner, S. I., Hahn, M. E. and Di Giulio, R.T. (2003). Expression and inducibility of aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) pathway genes in populations of killifish (Fundulus heteroclitus) that differ in PAH-exposure history. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 22, 2337-2343.

Wassenberg, D.M., Swails, E. E.* and Di Giulio, R. T. (2002). Effects of single and combined exposures to benzo(a)pyrene and 3,3’4,4’5-pentachlorobiphenyl on EROD activity and development in Fundulus heteroclitus. Marine Environmental Research 54, 279-283.

Willett, K. L., Wassenberg, D. M., Lienesch, L., Reichert, W. and Di Giulio, R. T. (2001). In vivo and in vitro inhibition of CYP1A-dependent activity in Fundulus heteroclitus by the polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbon fluoranthene. Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology 177, 264-271.

* Denotes undergraduate researchers

Recent presentations, invited seminars and workshops

Invited Speaker – Jewish Women Artists Group, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Sex, Biology, Evolution and Gender, July 2014.

National Association of Biology Teachers Annual Meeting: When Facts Are Not Enough: Understanding and Addressing Students Who Do Not Accept Evolution and Climate Change. November 2013.

Invited Speaker – Chippewa Valley Learning in Retirement: The Evolution and Biology of Sex: Why does Sex Exist? June 2013

Participant in Diversity in the Curriculum: Transforming Your Syllabus workshop. April 2013.

Student Mentee Poster Presentation – Lilly Conference Greensboro, NC: What is the Role of "Need for Cognition" in Introductory Biology Students' Acceptance of Anthropogenic Climate Change and Evolution? February 2013

National Association of Biology Teachers Annual Meeting: Teaching Evolution and the Nature of Science Using the Primary Literature, November 2012.

National Association of Biology Teachers Annual Meeting: What Do College Students Know About Sex? Does It Matter? November 2012.

Teach For America Higher Education Career Roundtable Invited Participant – April 2012 and March 2014

Invited Speaker – Chippewa Valley Learning in Retirement: Evolution Everyday – How the Theory and Fact of Evolution Influence Everyday Life. June 2012

Invited Speaker – Biology Colloquium: How toxic sludge broke the fish's heart: A tale of mystery, synergy and survival. February 2012

National Academies Northstar Institute for Undergraduate Education in Biology - Facilitator. July 2011. University of Minnesota

Participant in the Early Career Teaching Program September 2010-May 2011 Center for Teaching and Learning. University of Minnesota

Participant in Transforming Undergraduate Education in Biology: Mobilizing the Community for Change. 2009. An invitation-only working conference organized by the Vision and Change Advisory Board and staff of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. July 2009.

Invited Speaker – Advanced Microscopy Camp. 2009. Fluorescent imaging in Environmental Toxicology. A University of Minnesota and Minnesota Public School STEM partnership for secondary science teachers.

Co-author on numerous poster presentations presented at the following: 48th annual meeting of American Society for Cell Biology, 2009 conference on Team-Based Learning, University of Texas, Austin, 2009 Lilly-Traverse City Conference on College and University Teaching and Learning, 2009 Association of College and University Biology Educators meeting, Kansas City, MO, 49th annual meeting of American Society for Cell Biology, 2010 meeting of the National Association of Biology Teachers

Professional experience

  • 2014-present Teaching Associate Professor, Department of Biology Teaching and Learning, University of Minnesota
  • 2014-present Associate Director of Undergraduate Studies for Biology Majors
  • 2007-2014 Teaching Assistant Professor, Biology Program, College of Biological Sciences, University of Minnesota.
  • 2005- 2007 Researcher, Department of Educational Psychology, University of Minnesota
  • 2004- 2005 Post-doctoral Researcher, Duke University Medical Center. Elwood Linney, Adviser.
  • 1995-1997 7th and 8th Grade Science Teacher, Teach for America, Wilson Middle School, Pasadena, California

Professional service

  • Member of the Biology Program Curriculum Advisory Board. 2007-2014
  • Reviewer for Aquatic Toxicology and American Biology Teacher 2014
  • Elected to the University Faculty Senate Fall 2013-present.
  • Member of the University of Minnesota Senate Committee on Equity Access and Diversity. Fall 2013-present. Co-chair of this committee for Fall 2014.
  • Member of the CBS Awards and Recognition Committee 2013-2014.
  • National Academies Northstar Institute for Undergraduate Education in Biology - Facilitator. July 2011. University of Minnesota
  • Participant in Transforming Undergraduate Education in Biology: Mobilizing the Community for Change. 2009. An invitation-only working conference organized by the Vision and Change Advisory Board and staff of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. July 2009.
  • Member of the Teaching Assistant Award Committee 2009-2013

Professor Deena Wassenberg posing with sea lion on sandy beach in Galapagos Islands

 

223 Snyder Hall | St. Paul
Phone Number
612-626-2760
Email Address

deenaw@umn.edu

Address
5-220 Moos
515 Delaware Street SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455