Will Soto

Will became an HHMI postdoctoral teaching fellow on July 23, 2012.

As an undergraduate, Will majored in biology at California State University Fresno and then attended Wesleyan University for his master's degree. As a Ph.D. student at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, he conducted his graduate research with Dr. Michele Nishiguchi. They studied the symbiotic relationship between seploid squid in the genus Euprymna, and the bioluminescent bacteria, Vibrio fischeri. They were especially interested in the ability of V. fischeri to adapt to new squid hosts. The research was published in the journal, Evolution.

After graduating in 2009, Will decided to pursue his interest in science education. He taught human undergraduate physiology and biology at West Hills College Lemoore for a two years, an experience he thoroughly enjoyed. The teaching philosophy he developed at West Hills was rooted in principles of active learning. As an HHMI postdoctoral teaching fellow, Will hopes to continue to use active learning to engage students.

"How do I incorporate research into teaching?" This is the challenge Will faces as an HHMI postdoc as he works to develop authentic research opportunities for transfer students. He plans on having students join him in his research on the symbiosis between bacteria and their host squid.

At the University of Minnesota, Will has conducted his research in Michael Travisano's lab. As a research mentor, Michael has been a great resource, allowing Will to take advantage of Michael's expertise and experimental design while investigating the diversification of bacteria outside its host squid, and the bacteria's effect on the symbiotic relationship.

Will is inviting transfer students to participate in his research during the Active Learning Laboratory (ALL) this summer. ALL will present students with an authentic research experience as they work under the guidance of HHMI postdocs. Will goal is to help these students to learn how to use the scientific method to address real research questions.

Eventually, Will would like to become a faculty member at a small liberal art research college, where he can continue to pursue his interests in teaching and research. Ideally, he would like to teach undergraduates by in involving them in research opportunities early on.

Teaching Mentor: Catherine Kirkpatrick

Research Mentor: Michael Travisano

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