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CBS People: Jessamina Blum

This BTL staffer helps bring discovery-based research into the classroom.

Jessamina Blum

What do you do at CBS? ​

I'm an Assistant Education Specialist in the Department of Biology Teaching and Learning and Managing Editor CourseSource.

How long have you been at the U?​

Three years.

Can you describe your position a bit? 

​As I suspect is true for many working in academia, I wear a lot of hats and always have multiple projects running at the same time. As an assistant education specialist, I work with our non-majors course faculty to design and implement course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs) ​for their labs. CUREs bring the excitement and process of discovery-based research into the classroom. Students ask their own questions, figure out ways to test these questions, collect data, and analyze their results. The neat thing is that the data they collect and the conclusions that they draw may be totally new information to science as a whole! In my other position as managing editor, I help run a new online journal of peer-reviewed, evidence-based teaching resources for undergraduate biology education called CourseSource. We publish 'field-tested' classroom or lab activities that use current best-practices, like active learning. So if you need ideas or have an amazing activity you'd like to share with the world, check us out!

How did you get into this field?

I've always been curious about everything around me (my mom would say to emphasize the 'everything'!) Science seemed like a great place that encouraged you to not only ask questions, but to try and figure out what was happening. I received my B.A. in biology from St. Catherine's and my Ph.D. in cell and molecular biology from the University of Pennsylvania. Both gave me a solid foundation in the process of science, but it wasn't until my postdoc that I discovered science education through scientific teaching. Scientific teaching is basically the idea that we should teach science the way science is done; through inquiry, process and excitement; in essence, what makes science FUN! It's this philosophy that I bring into the classroom and lab with me.

What is something interesting or unusual about your work here?

The most interesting (and fun!) part of my job is working with non-biology majors in the laboratory. Because they are bringing in a huge diversity of experience, background, and ideas, it just makes the science that much more creative and exciting! ​

What do you like to do in your free time?

​When I'm not playing hide-and-seek with my 4-year old, who DEFINITELY inherited my curiosity and, dare I say, delightful 'sassiness', or wrangling two rambunctious miniature dachshunds, my husband and I occasionally get to go out and explore the awesome culinary scene of the Twin Cities. I'm also part of a weekly 'all-crafts-accepted' group whose members put my craftiness to shame!

March, 2016