Mentoring & Teaching

Mentoring

Working with undergraduate and K-12 students has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my time at UIUC. My undergraduate mentees have been awarded over $17,500 in research and travel funds, presented their independent research at regional and national meetings, and either have or are in the process of submitting their work to peer reviewed journals. I’m incredibly proud of all they have accomplished!

Undergraduate researchers

Benjamin Chiavini

Picture of Ben Chiavini

Ben joined the Harmon-Threatt lab in the spring of 2018 and has helped with spider identification for the collared lizard project and collecting and processing insects samples for the habitat shape project.

Ben’s independent research explores the effects of sub-lethal levels of neonicotinoids on the behaviors of pollinating insects. Ben earned Distinction for this work and his first-authored paper is currently in-prep for a peer-reviewed journal.

Ben graduated from UIUC in the spring of 2021 and is pursuing a master’s degree in Entomology in Dr. Adam Dolezal’s lab at UIUC related to his interest in chemical and neurological entomology.

Anna Grommes

Picture of Anna Grommes

Anna joined the Harmon-Threatt lab in the fall of 2018. She has helped with trait measurements for the collared lizard project and processing insect samples for the habitat shape project.

Anna’s independent research explores the efficacy of adding essential oils to improve emergence tent capture rate for ground-nesting bees. Anna earned Distinction for this work and her first-authored paper was published in the peer-reviewed journal Apidologie (link below).

Anna graduated from UIUC in the spring of 2020 and is pursuing a master’s degree in Entomology in Dr. Larry Hanks’ lab at UIUC related to her interest in chemical ecology.

Gabriel Harmon

Picture of Gabe Harmon

Gabe joined the Harmon-Threatt lab in the fall of 2019 and has helped with trait measurements for the collared lizard project.

Gabe’s independent research explores the possible interactive effects of agrochemicals – insecticides and fungicides – on insect communities. Gabe earned Distinction for this work and his first-authored paper is currently in-prep for a peer-reviewed journal.

Gabe graduated from UIUC in the spring of 2021 and plans to pursue a graduate program related to his interest in epidemiology and public health.

Justine Macalindong

Picture of Justine Macalindong

Justine joined the Harmon-Threatt lab in the spring of 2020 and has helped with trait measurements for the collared lizard project.

Justine’s independent research explores how changes in soil organic carbon affects floral resource quality and if this has an effect on anti-predator foraging behavior in pollinators.

Justine is interested in bioinformatics and plans to pursue a career in this field.

High school researchers

Mentor Matching Engine (MME)

Mentor Matching Engine logo

Run by the Illinois Science & Technology Institute, MME is a web-based platform that connects Illinois high school students and their teachers to STEM professionals.

Since joining the program in 2014, I’ve mentored 20 students across 11 student-driven projects. Each project lasts one to two semesters.

Project topics have ranged from the physiology of peacock mantis shrimp eyes to more conservation-oriented projects about pesticides, water quality, air pollution, and restoration quality.

Click here to learn more about MME and register to become a mentor!

K-8 “Pre-scientists”

Letters to a Pre-Scientist (LPS)

Letters to a Pre-Scientist logo

LPS is a non-profit focused on connecting students to STEM professionals through a snail-mail pen pals program. The goal is to demystify STEM careers and encourage students to see themselves as scientists.

Since joining the program in 2016, I’ve been a pen pal for five students in grades 4, 5, 7, and 8.

While the letter content changes with each student, the overall themes relate to describing a science career and possible education paths, overcoming obstacles, and fostering interest in any STEM field. Participating in this program has been very enjoyable and rewarding. As a bonus, who doesn’t love sending or getting something in the mail?

Click here to learn more about LPS and to register to be a pen pal or donate!

Teaching

Teaching has been one of the most challenging and valuable experiences during my graduate training. Implementing feedback from students, peers, and faculty advisors, I have developed an engaged and casual teaching style that aims to help students identify their individual interests in biology and fosters further exploration through student-derived questions and hands-on examples.

Following a rough first semester, my students have rated me as outstanding (top 10%) or excellent (top 30%) in every subsequent semester (8/9 overall). Additionally, I have received teaching awards from the School of Integrative Biology, the Department of Entomology, and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. I’m humbled by these awards and I look forward to improving as a teacher as I engage new courses and students.

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