Foundation Award for Teaching

Paul Durham

Dr. Paul Durham

College of Natural and Applied Sciences

I. Philosophy of Teaching

To be a good teacher, I believe that a thorough knowledge of the subject area is essential to allow me to present difficult concepts at a level that is easy to understand. It is important that students are taught to see the “big picture,” since in science it is so easy to flounder and get lost in the details. As an instructor, I encourage students to think for themselves. For this reason, I rarely will answer a question without first asking the students a question that will aid them in discovering the answer to their own question. I am an advocate of computer-based education and routinely incorporate special graphics and videos to illustrate important points in my lectures. To stimulate a student’s interest and make the material more exciting and tangible I routinely share new information I found in journal articles or on the internet to illustrate that science is always evolving. If a student is not making the “grade,” I meet with the student to determine what we can do to improve their situation.  I enjoy interacting with my students and want them to know that I care about their success in my course and at Missouri State University.

II. Examples of Courses/Topics

  • BIO 320 Molecular Cell Biology (lecture and lab)
  • BIO 121 General Biology I (lecture)
  • BIO 355/755 Developmental Biology (lecture and lab)
  • BIO 597/697 Epigenetics and Human Health (lecture and discussion)
  • BIO 597/697 Diabetes (lecture and discussion)
  • BIO 121 999 Honor General Biology (lecture)
  • BIO 597/697 Cancer Biology (lecture and discussion)
  • BIO 597/697 Medicinal Plant Biochemistry (lecture and discussion)
  • BIO 597/697 Molecular and Cellular Techniques (lecture and lab)
  • BIO 597/697 Diseases of the Nervous System (lecture and discussion)
  • BIO 620 Mechanisms of Pain (lecture and discussion)        
  • BIO 597 Neurogenic Inflammation (lecture and discussion)
  • BIO 630 Neurobiology of Disease (lecture and discussion)

III. Future Projects

I will continue to make use of new technologies to more fully engage our students and facilitate their development as scholars. I will encourage more class discussions even in my larger classes to allow myself and all students to better understand the perspectives of other students especially related to major topics such as global warming, stem cell therapy, use of genomic information, production of genetically modified organisms, cloning, and the manipulation of human embryos. I will incorporate more writing activities on scientific presentations available via the internet as a means to enrich the learning experience and encourage students to never stop questioning. Enrichment topics could include global water resources, endangered species, and emerging viruses.

IV. Topics related to teaching and of interest to the University Community, for which you are available for presentations and/or consultations (e.g., presentation tools, special topics, technology, public affairs).

I would enjoy lecturing on topics related to human health and disease and epigenetics. Epigenetics is an emerging field that studies how our physical and social environment and life style choices influence the expression of our genes to maintain our health or promote disease. I frequently give presentations on orofacial pain and inflammation and the associated risk factors for increasing the likelihood of suffering from migraine, temporomandibular joint disorder or TMD, or trigeminal neuralgia. I also enjoy lecturing on the importance of proper nutrition in maintaining a healthy gut-brain axis, which is now known to play a central role in the pathology of many neurological diseases.