COSAM News Articles 2022 April Dr. Laurie Stevison (Biological Sciences), 2022 Outstanding Faculty Undergraduate Mentor

Dr. Laurie Stevison (Biological Sciences), 2022 Outstanding Faculty Undergraduate Mentor

Published: 04/18/2022

By: Leslie Leak

Laurie Stevison is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Biophysics from Centenary College of Louisiana, a Master of Arts degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Rice University, and a Ph.D. in Biology from Duke University. Dr. Stevison also completed a postdoctoral fellowship with the Institute for Human Genetics at the University of California San Francisco.

Stevison has been a faculty member at Auburn since 2015. She currently teaches Introduction to Computational Biology and Bioinformatics and Genome Analysis to both undergraduate and graduate students.

Stevison’s research and teaching interests include evolutionary genomics, speciation, recombination, population genetics, comparative genomics, and bioinformatics. Housed in the Rouse Life Sciences building, the Stevison Lab conducts research that focuses on understanding the genetic processes involved in species formation. While at Auburn, Stevison has mentored over 50 undergraduate students doing research in her lab.

When asked what she enjoys most about being an undergraduate mentor, Stevison stated, “I enjoy watching students experience science vs. just learning about it in the classroom. As an undergraduate mentor, I get to see students realize that we don’t know the answers to everything and learn through discovery - not memorization - that they must be more engaged in the learning process.”

“It is gratifying to see students realize that they have the ability to play a big role in moving science forward. I think this makes students feel a sense of responsibility, excitement and engagement that you typically don’t experience in a traditional classroom setting.”

As students grow as scientists and become knowledge experts, Stevison finds it rewarding as a mentor to see them build confidence and develop a deep appreciation for the scientific process. “I’ve received emails from former students who write to tell me they’ve gotten into medical school or dental school, sometimes after applying multiple times. Hearing from former students who succeed at finally achieving their goals is a nice ‘full circle’ moment and a fulfilling part of being a mentor.”

In the classroom, Stevison uses active learning and engaging teaching strategies. “When you teach students a concept repeatedly and see them building confidence, I like the ‘Aha!’ moments where something finally clicks for them, and they make these connections from one topic to another.”

Stevison feels that challenging her students to think critically is an effective teaching strategy. “If I can help students develop higher order processing skills, I think this helps them so much more because they have a safe learning environment where GTAs and teachers are present when they have questions or need help applying what they are learning. This practical application of knowledge in the classroom also makes it more engaging for students.”

Outside of the classroom, Stevison enjoys traveling, playing board games, cooking and being outdoors in her free time.



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