COSAM News Articles 2022 April Amanda Clark - 2022 Outstanding GTA (Biological Sciences)

Amanda Clark - 2022 Outstanding GTA (Biological Sciences)

Published: 04/18/2022

By: Leslie Leak

Amanda Clark is a PhD candidate, CMB fellow, and NSF Graduate Research fellow in the Department of Biological Sciences. In 2013, she graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Molecular Biology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).

Clark conducts research in Tonia Schwartz’s Functional Genomics Lab where she is working to complete her goal of becoming a molecular ecologist.  Her research interests revolve around investigating the biological pathways and systems responsible for various ecological patterns observed in the field of ecology. Clark is also interested in the genetic and epigenetic modifications that are involved in phenotypic plasticity and polymorphisms in reptiles. Employing reptilian cell culture and functional genomics, she investigates the role of the insulin/insulin-like signaling (IIS) network in body size evolution happening to insular reptilian populations found on the California Channel Islands.

Clark recently completed her second semester as a GTA at Auburn teaching Introduction to Computational Biology. She is currently instructing Organismal Biology for Auburn undergraduate students. When asked what she enjoys most about teaching, Clark stated, “I enjoy watching the critical thinking process occur when students are faced with a problem they are trying to solve. In Computational Biology where we often are trying to solve large puzzles, students sometimes tend to overthink a problem. When I observe them stop, take a step back to analyze possible mistakes, and come back to solve the problem, I find it very rewarding to see them gain critical thinking skills that will be valuable to them throughout their academic journey.”

Clark’s approach to teaching also helps students develop critical thinking skills. “I like to respond to student questions by posing questions back to them,” stated Clark. “I think it’s more helpful to give students direction and questions to ponder instead of outright answering a problem for them. It gives them room to grow, and they’ll see that it is more rewarding when they’ve worked through a problem on their own. I find that students are more likely to retain information if they have worked to fully understand a problem and solution this way.”

Outside of the classroom, Clark enjoys hiking in her free time and loves crocheting – a self-taught skill that she finds relaxing.

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