Susan Keen, senior lecturer of evolution and ecology, was appointed Associate Dean of Undergraduate Academic Programs on July 1st, 2012.
Dr. Keen brings both a passion for, and a comprehensive understanding of, the fundamental needs of undergraduate students.
“I have taught in the BIS 2B and BIS 2C courses since their development. These courses, along with BIS 2A, are at the foundation of any degree in the life sciences. I have also been involved in numerous advisory committees across UC Davis as a whole,” says Keen. “I believe that my experiences have given me a good understanding of the needs of our undergraduates, as well as some sense of the larger campus perspective.”
Specifically, Keen believes that hands-on lab work is vital to students studying life sciences, and plans to champion the fight to retain invaluable small-group lab experience in the face of increasingly limited funding.
“The College of Biological Sciences is one of a shrinking number of schools that offer lab classes at the lower division level,” she explains. “Our students meet weekly in small groups of 24 to gain real-world lab experience and study biology on a more intimate level. When lecture sections approach 500 students, this small group experience becomes incredibly valuable.”
She also is excited to increase the integration between fundamental lower division core courses and upper division core courses.
“By further integrating the core curriculum between the lower and upper division levels, we will make strides towards meeting our objectives for student learning and ensure that each student has a strong understanding of the principles of basic science necessary for them to succeed in any scientific field.”
Dr. Keen also hopes that, through experiences in both lecture and lab, students will understand that they are experiencing academics at a very high level in the College of Biological Sciences.
“When a student reads a journal article, or sees a scientific write-up in the newspaper, I want them to realize that they are looking at their future. Students in the College of Biological Sciences have the opportunity to learn from faculty who are making those groundbreaking discoveries, and to participate in research that will, one day, be read by students just like them. What our undergraduates experience in this college has is real-world impact and relevance, and it empowers each of them to change the face of science in the future.”
Dr. Keen is currently engaged in an NSF-funded project to create self-guided learning modules using animations to explore animal development. She also writes for two textbooks: Integrated Principles of Zoology, now in its 15th edition, and Animal Diversity.