Morgan Furze is a Ph.D. student in the department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard. Her primary research interest is in how plants respond to stress associated with global change. She has a special pedagogical interest in how concepts in science can be conveyed through art. 

As a member of the Bok Center’s Media Literacy and Visualization Team, Morgan has led several large-scale projects including collaborating with Professor David Cox on an undergraduate course in Molecular and Cellular Biology; re-designing the final assignment for an undergraduate course in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, and creating a video series to explain a difficult concept in that same course.

Projects

Re-designing the Final Assignment for OEB52

As a Teaching Fellow for OEB 52: The Biology of Plants, Morgan re-designed the final project for the course, aiming to craft a creative assignment that maximized student understanding of a complex concept: the rise of the sporophyte in the evolutionary history of plants. 

In designing the assignment she paid particular attention to student experience by a) discussing the old assignment with student testers at the Bok Learning Lab, b) hosting several workshops on art-making in the sciences in order to troubleshoot potential problems with a creative assignment, c) hosting several “hackathons” throughout the semester to aid with technical problems as the students worked on their projects, and d) after they completed the project, filming the students’ “artist statement” at the Bok Center, where students reflected on why they made the artistic choices that they did.

The re-designed assignment allowed students to take ownership of the course material by asking that they translate it into an artistic medium of their choice, and culminated in a final “plant festival” during the final class session. Students’ investment in their project as well as in those of their classmates evidenced that the assignment managed to circumvent competition while also cultivating a sense of community. A great success for Morgan and for the Bok Center!

MCB81 with David Cox

As a Teaching Fellow for MCB 81: Fundamentals of Neuroscience, Morgan designed a multi-part project intended to develop students’ skills in visual explanation both as individual presenters as well as members of a team. The first portion of the assignment asked students to choose a figure from one of two scientific papers and to storyboard a series of drawings that explain the figure’s importance to the study’s methods, findings, and overall thesis as well as the historical context of that particular research area. The assignment culminated in a spoken presentation that explained the storyboard. The second portion of the project took the place of the midterm for the course and required students to apply those same skills to a group, rather than individual report. Flipping the classroom with Professor Missy Holbrook In collaboration with Missy Holbrook, one of the professors of OEB52, Morgan produced a series of short videos that explained a concept that students had struggled with in past iterations of the course. The videos taught the concept in concise units and were assigned to be watched for homework, in the style of a “flipped classroom,” thereby freeing up class time for Morgan, alongside Professor Holbrook, to lead the class in interactive activities that designed to deepen their comprehension of the material.

Happenings

Candidate: working with Gabe on the lego project