I don’t actually start for another two and a half hours. But at 2 pm pacific time I’m going to assume the role of a graduate student instructor (Berkeley’s fancy name for a TA) in the first of the two discussion sections I’ll be teaching every week.
As first classes to TA go, this one feels like a good fit for me. It is an introductory course in plant biology aimed at non-science majors. A couple of the people in my year did this for the first time last semester with courses on plant biochemistry or computational biology and spent the whole time trying to keep one week ahead of their students in learning the material. In a course on introductory plant biology and agricultural/biotech issues we’re going to be discussing stuff I know and am excited about!
The professor who gives the lectures seems pretty awesome too. In a semester she’s planning to cover everything from basic biology cell cycle and DNA->RNA->protein to plant specific biology like floral development and plant pathogens, and at the same time get the students thinking and writing about their views on biotechnology, agriculture, and biofuels.
It should make for an exciting semester.
Also, lectures are in an auditorium with over 100 seats and at the first one, on Tuesday, every single one was taken and there were people sitting in the aisles. At Cornell the only plant biology class I ever took that even approached that kind of enrollment was the two weeks I took of Intro Botany. Great to see so many people excited about plants and their molecular biology (or at least willing to sit through a semester of lectures and discussion sections on the subject to fulfil some distribution requirement)!