Marina Ellefson

Marina headshot

Position Title
Associate Professor of Teaching

  • Molecular and Cellular Biology
156 Briggs Hall

Research Interests

My research interests lie at the intersection of biology and how people teach and learn about science. I practice and promote evidence-based effective teaching strategies and conduct research to understand and improve undergraduate biology education through a data-driven approach.

High-impact teaching and learning practices in large-enrollment courses

As undergraduate enrollment continues to grow nationwide, class sizes in both lower- and upper-division courses are increasing. How can high-enrollment biology classes be taught to maximize student engagement, interaction, inclusion, and learning? I collect classroom data to investigate the impact that different teaching practices have on learning and students experience in high-enrollment courses.

Promoting science skills and scientific literacy for the 21st century student

Given the recent revolutionary changes in science, technology, and medicine, how can we reform undergraduate biology curricula to best prepare students for the scientific challenges they will encounter in their careers and lives? I am interested in developing curriculum development that (1) integrates research skills and experiences, critical thinking, and problem-solving in biology and (2) use examples that situate learning about biology in the context of societal and personal issues of interest to provide access points for learning biology and developing strong scientific literacy.

Developing and evaluating best practices for teaching and learning in Genetics

Genetics is a fundamental component of undergraduate biology curricula. Most genetics courses cover content spanning classic Mendelian genetics and central dogma to cloning and genomics. I am interested in modernizing genetics courses to reflect current knowledge and practices that are essential for a 21st century learner as well as investigating effective approaches for learning genetics and mitigating commonly formed misconceptions.

Fostering evidence-based teaching practices among faculty and future faculty

Due to recent national calls, there is an ongoing national effort towards transforming science education that necessitates support and training in evidence-based effective teaching practices. In collaboration with the Center for Educational Effectiveness, I am active in providing resources and leading pedagogical training for faculty. I am also co-leading an effort to develop a program for graduate students in undergraduate scientific teaching with the goal of providing pedagogical training and authentic teaching experience opportunities to graduate students in the biological sciences.  

Education and Degree(s)
  • 2007 B.S. in Genetics, University of California, Davis
  • 2012 Ph.D. in Biochemistry, Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, University of California, Davis
  • 2015 Postdoctoral Appointment, Heald Lab, University of California, Berkeley