I have spent the past decade delivering lectures and presentations on physiology, medicine, and research methods, tailoring these talks to a variety of audiences. Throughout this time, I have come to appreciate how most scientific thought and information is communicated: poorly. I have seen too many presenters lose their audiences through over-reliance on jargon, acronyms, and memorized bromides rather than clarity, insight, and empathy. Not surprisingly, many people, students included, have an uncomfortable relationship with "science".
I believe that a professor's greatest challenge is to reach the student who not only lacks knowledge of a subject, but also lacks interest in it. While many students may be genuinely interested in learning, others treat college courses like requisite obstacles on the way to a degree. For them, a class is a hurdle, not an opportunity. To be a successful professor is to connect with both of these groups, inspiring the former and converting the latter. Failure to achieve either goal (owing to complexity of the material or student disengagement) is, to me, the fault of the teacher far more than the student. There is a tone, a cadence, and a degree of simplicity that can speak to both groups. In this sense, teaching can be likened to music. A good musician never makes the simple seem complex (or even the complex seem complex). He makes the complex seem simple and the simple seem bold. A good educator should be able to do the same.
Accordingly, my method in the class room is to instruct with clarity, enthusiasm, and, wherever possible, humor. When I stick to this approach, the responses are encouraging, and hearing "this is the first time I've ever understood science" is, for me, what makes teaching worthwhile.
I have two research interests: muscle physiology and trauma medicine. In physiology, I examine muscular functioning as a component of human performance. My involvement in medicine is epidemiological: I analyze predictors of patient health and survival in trauma care.