TA Spotlight – Isaiah Box

Photo source: Isaiah Box

I completed my BSc in zoology at the University of Guelph. While I was there, I did an honours project under Nick Bernier on the stress physiology of larval zebrafish exposed to high environmental ammonia. This work inspired me not to work with fish going into grad school.

I then started my master’s in zoology here at UBC where I am just entering my second year. I am in Katie Marshall’s lab researching freeze tolerance in intertidal invertebrates, particularly the role of ice-binding proteins in the freeze tolerance of the local bay mussel.

I was a physical TA for BIOL 205 (Comparative Invertebrate Zoology) and BIOL 204 (Vertebrate Structure and Function) last year and am now a virtual TA for BIOL 230 (Fundamentals of Ecology).

What do you enjoy most about being a TA?

My favourite part about being a TA is witnessing curiosity spark in students and then being able to foster that curiosity. It is always awesome when I get questions from students nobody knows the answer to (yet!). It means they are becoming scientists, not encyclopedias.

What has being a TA brought to your graduate studies experience?

Being a TA has been a good source of reassurance. My first year of research was characteristically full of hiccups and delays, but my TA work kept me from getting too discouraged since I was seeing the students progress and succeed and knew I played a part in that. Also, being a TA has presented me with an opportunity to improve my time management skills, but the word is still out on how much improving I’ve actually done.

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

I have been excited about doing what everyone else is currently doing: learning how to teach online. My general computer skills can always use improving and I’m quickly learning that teaching through a screen requires different approaches than teaching people in person, so it’s been fun exploring that.

What has been an interesting outcome of your TA experience?

I was surprised how much I learned while being a TA. Obviously, I learned a lot about teaching in general and communicating science, but I also learned a lot about the subjects I’ve been a TA for. I took the equivalent courses during my undergrad, so I thought I was mostly set, but I learned a lot as a TA and gained a deeper understanding of the topics I was teaching.

Also, I was hoping my TA evaluations would provide a lot of feedback on my teaching and ways to improve. I hardly got any comments on my teaching, but I got a lot of mixed feedback on how I dress, which I got a kick out of.

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

I’m pretty good at snapping and can do it without my thumbs. Also, I can lick my elbows (but not at the same time).

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1 Comment

  1. love Isaiah’s thoughtful answers , his sense of humor, openness to learning , delight in his students curiosity and love of this opportunity

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