TA Spotlight – Rhea Storlund

Photo source: Rhea Storlund

Rhea Storlund is a PhD student in the Marine Mammal Research Unit supervised by Dr. Andrew Trites and Dr. Dave Rosen. Her research interests lie in understanding how the circulatory systems of marine mammals contribute to their impressive diving abilities. To this end, she investigates cardiovascular adjustments in Steller sea lions and the structure and function of the aortic bulb in marine mammals. She has been studying at UBC since 2013 and earned her BSc in Biology and MSc in Zoology along the way.

This September marks her 6th time teaching Biology 140 – a course which she highly recommends to TAs looking to gain teaching experience. Running her own classroom in Biology 140 inspired Rhea to try to become a better teacher by participating in TA training opportunities like the Biology TA Training Program, BioTAP, which she now coordinates.

What do you enjoy most about being a TA?

Being a TA is so rewarding. I love catching the moment when the lightbulb goes off and I see a student start to understand a concept they were struggling with.

What opportunities relating to teaching and learning have you been a part of (including any workshops, conferences, awards or fellowships)?

To develop my teaching skills, I have been very involved with BioTAP. I started out as an attendee, then I became a Senior TA, and now I coordinate the program. BioTAP workshops are a great way to learn teaching strategies and get to know other TAs and instructors that are enthusiastic about teaching. My involvement in BioTAP has also led me to attend workshops put on by the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology (CTLT) and the Graduate Students in Teaching Mini Conference in 2019.

What is something that you are currently doing in the UBC teaching and learning space that you are excited about?

Right now, I am really excited to be part of the Self-Regulation for Learning project that is implementing new practices in undergraduate classes to help students take initiative over their learning to become more successful learners. I like this project because it teaches students techniques and strategies to help them improve their own learning.

What is a memorable anecdote from your own undergraduate experience?

As an undergraduate, I have fond memories of field work. I had a few opportunities to travel to Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre which is a beautiful place to learn. I remember how enthusiastic my instructors were. When we would go for walks, they would always wander off and then come back to share some rare algae, invertebrate, or mushroom. Now I get the opportunity to share the intertidal zone with my Biology 140 students, and I hope I have that same enthusiasm.

What is a fun fact about you that people may not know?

You might not know that I am a runner, but as a kid I couldn’t stand running. This summer I completed my 4th half marathon and in October I’ll be running my 5th.

What are your plans following graduation?

More research and more teaching!

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