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Anna Mosser

Teaching Assistant Professor

Degrees earned

  • Ph.D., University of Minnesota, Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior
  • B.A. with honors, The University of Chicago, Biology

BioSketch | Curriculum Vitae

Research interests

Team-based learning; Uncovering and correcting misconceptions; Strategies for fostering independent critical thinking and problem solving; Wildlife ecology and animal behavior


  • Finalist, Allee Session for Best Student Paper, Animal Behavior Society Meeting
  • University of Minnesota, Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship
  • University of Minnesota, Doctoral Dissertation International Research Grant
  • University of Minnesota, Dayton-Wilkie Summer Research Grant
  • University of Minnesota, Florence Rothman Award (research funding)
  • University of Minnesota, Graduate School Fellowship

Research statement

My research interests in teaching are focused on team-based learning, misconceptions, and fostering independent problem solving. I am particularly interested in how teams of students cooperate to complete long-term course projects and what instructors can do to support success in these activities. Student misconceptions, often rooted in prior experience and especially common in subjects related to evolution, present a unique challenge for educators. I am working to learn, develop, and implement strategies in the classroom that help students identify, confront, and correct these points of view. I am also focused on techniques for developing student independence in critical thinking and problem solving, with a view to fledging the successful biologists of the future. I also continue to be involved in research in wildlife ecology and animal behavior, with a particular interest in spatial ecology, GIS, and the evolution of social behavior.

Teaching statement

My teaching approach focuses on how students learn, what they learn, and why they should learn it. I use evidence-based methods to design how students learn in and out of the classroom, with an emphasis on active learning and student-driven inquiry. What students learn in my courses is strongly focused on concepts and process, where students learn the larger concepts that provide the framework for our current understanding of the natural world and practice the process skills needed to be an effective professional. Finally, in my teaching I aim to demystify why certain ideas and skills are important to learn.

Favorite teaching innovation or approach

Recently, I introduced a extra credit project in my Foundations 2 course, where I ask students to express one of three ecology concepts in an artistic way. They could draw, sing, write a story, and so on. The student creativity that is expressed though this assignment blows me away every time! Students bring guitars to class for an original song, write poems in iambic pentameter, and make wonderful paintings that now adorn my office walls. For the most part, I find that the activity requires a deep understanding of the chosen concept. I look forward to this each time I teach this course!

Courses taught

  • BIOL2002 – Foundations of Biology 1: Genetics and Evolution
  • BIOL2003 – Foundations of Biology 2: Cell Biology and Ecology
  • BIOL3001 – Nature of Science and Research (for incoming transfer students)
  • BIOL1905 – Freshman Seminar (How to Think About Weird Things)
  • BIOL1805 – Nature of Life: Summer module at Itasca

Representative publications

Mosser A, Avgar T, Spencer W, Brown G, and Fryxell J. 2014. Towards an energetic landscape: broad-scale accelerometry in Ontario woodland caribou. Journal of Animal Ecology 83(4): 916–922. DOI: 10.1111/1365-2656.12187.

Avgar T, Mosser A, Brown G, and Fryxell J. 2013. Environmental and individual drivers of animal movement patterns across a wide geographical gradient. Journal of Animal Ecology. 82(1): 96–106. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2656.2012.02035.x.

Sinclair ARE., Metzger K, Fryxell J, Packer C, Byrom A, Craft M, Hampson K, Lembo T, Durant S, Forrester G, Bukombe J, Mchetto J, Dempewolf J, Hilborn R, Cleaveland S, Nkwabi A, Mosser A, and Mduma S. 2013. Asynchronous food web pathways could buffer the response of Serengeti predators to El Niño Southern Oscillation. 94(5): 1123–1130 Ecology.

Rudicell RS, Jones JH, Wroblewski EE, Learn GH, Li Y, Robertson JD, Greengrass E, Grossmann F, Kamenya S, Pintea L, Mjungu DC, Lonsdorf EV, Mosser A, Lehman C, Collins DA, Keele BF, Goodall J, Hahn BH, Pusey AE and Wilson ML. 2010. Impact of Simian Immunodeficiency Virus Infection on Chimpanzee Population Dynamics. PLOS Pathogens 6(9): e1001116. doi:10.1371.

Keele BF, Jones JH, Terio KA, Estes JD, Rudicell RS, Wilson ML, Li Y, Learn GH, Beasley TM, Schumacher-Stankey J, Wroblewski E, Mosser A, Raphael J, Kamenya S, Lonsdorf EV, Travis DA, Mlengeya T, Kinsel MJ, Else JG, Silvestri G, Goodall J, Sharp PM, Shaw GM, Pusey AE and Hahn BH. 2009. Increased mortality and AIDS-like immunopathology in wild chimpanzees infected with SIVcpz. Nature 460: 515-519.

Mosser A, Fryxell J, Eberly L, Packer C. 2009. Serengeti real estate: density versus fitness-based indicators of lion habitat quality. Ecology Letters 12: 1050-1060.

Mosser A, Packer C. 2009. Group territoriality and the benefits of sociality in the African lion. Animal Behaviour 78(2): 359-370.

Fryxell JM, Mosser A, Sinclair ARE, Packer C. 2007. Group formation stabilizes predator–prey dynamics. Nature 449: 1041-1044.

LeDee O, Mosser A, Gamble T, Childs G, Oberhauser K. 2007. A Science Club Takes Action. Science and Children 44(9): 35-37.

Packer C, Hilborn R, Mosser A, Kissui B, Borner M, Hopcraft G, et al. 2005. Ecological change, group territoriality, and population dynamics in Serengeti lions. Science 307: 390-393.

Recent presentations, invited seminars and workshops

Best practices presentation, 2013, POGIL South Central Regional Workshop, St. Louis, Missouri. “Foundations of Biology: Think Like a Scientist!” Gibbens B and Mosser A..

Sample teaching activity presentation, 2013, POGIL South Central Regional Workshop, St. Louis, Missouri. “Where Does Science End?” Mosser A.

Oral presentation, 2013, 98th annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America, Minneapolis, Minnesota. “The view from a caribou: a collar + GPS + accelerometer + on-board video = extensive data on an elusive species”. Mosser A, Avgar T, Rodgers A, Fryxell J, and Thompson I.

Oral presentation, 2012, 97th annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America, Portland, Oregon. “Towards and energetic landscape: broad-scale accelerometry in woodland caribou”. Mosser A, Avgar T, Brown G, and Fryxell C.

Invited seminar. 2011. Department of Conservation Biology, Doñana Biological Station, Seville, Spain

Oral presentation. 2011. 6th annual meeting of the Canadian Society for Ecology and Evolution, Banff, Alberta, “Energetics and landscape patterns in Ontario woodland caribou”. Mosser A, Avgar T, Brown G, and Fryxell C.

Invited seminar. 2011. Department of Integrative Biology, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada

Professional experience

  • Teaching Assistant Professor, University of Minnesota, Department of Biology Teaching and Learning (2013 – present)
  • Postdoctoral Fellow and Sessional Lecturer, University of Guelph, Department of Integrative Biology (2010-2013)
  • Director of Research, Gombe Stream Research Centre, Gombe National Park, The Jane Goodall Institute, Tanzania (2008-2009)

Professional service

  • Disability Issue Committee, University of Minnesota (2013 - present)
  • Faculty mentor for ESA undergraduate SEEDS program (2013 - present)
  • Speaker at Environmental Sciences Academic Open House, University of Guelph (2011 & 2012)

Current grants

  • Digital Biology Initiative, University of Minnesota

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