My approach to teaching is rather casual, as any student in my class can attest to. I like to consider my style of teaching as "conversational", meaning that I lecture as if I were having a casual conversation with a friend. I try to avoid complicated jargon and always focus on concepts. If students understand the concepts, it is easier for them to become self-sufficient learners, with the ability to deepen their knowledge independently after they have completed the course. I don't believe that there is a concept that is too complex or abstract for any student to understand. This is not to say that everything in science is simple, but with careful thought a good instructor can make complicated ideas comprehensible. Make no mistake, depending on the topics to be covered in class, I will rehearse beforehand to make sure that I found the appropriate way to break down the ideas for my target audience. My driving force is to show science majors (about half of my students) that science is truly a alluring field in which they can have a fruitful career, and to convince non-science majors (the other half of my students) that science is neither terribly complicated nor painfully boring, but rather, fascinating.


The following are the courses that I am actively involved in. I take particular pride in knowing that in one way or another I participate in the education of students in K-12 schools, community colleges and universities.





Biomedical Research: Concepts and Strategies (BR 5HA)

In the BR 5HA class, students are immersed in the world of biomedical research at UCLA.  Students listen to two Faculty Research Seminars that will expose them to cutting-edge biomedical research conducted on campus.  These seminars are one-hour lectures given by outstanding UCLA faculty on primary research projects from their own laboratories.  Students are introduced to questions of general biological interest that are studied in UCLA research labs. Each seminar is followed by a series of classes that explores the science behind the research. The lectures discuss the scientific concepts and experimental approaches used in each scientific seminar. Students learn how to analyze a seminar in terms of its central questions, experimental data, conclusions of the speaker, significance of the work and possible future directions. Finally, the students are taught how to use the Internet to find published literature and scientific data that can enhance their understanding of the research presented in class.


Journal Club Seminar: Current Topics in Life Sciences (BR 193H)

In the BR 193H class, students are directed to find a suitable primary research paper from a wide array of scientific journals. Working in pairs, students then present the data outlined in the paper, with an emphasis on experimental design, controls and results. As an instructor, I encourage the students to actively participate and decide whether the scientific data supports the conclusions drawn by the authors. The goal of the course is to teach the students to critically read the scientific literature, and to help them use this information to propose new (and hypothetical) experimental questions. 


Drug Abuse and Society: Conveying Concepts to High School Students (NS 192C)

This course was designed as a follow up to the C117/C277 (Drugs of Abuse: From Neurobiology to Policy and Education) course that gives undergraduates a comprehensive, in-depth look at drugs of abuse. The main goal of 192C is to provide the most promising students from the C177 course with an opportunity to disseminate relevant facts about drugs of abuse to local high school students. Within the course students are trained to put together a short, educational PowerPoint presentation on specific drugs of abuse (legal and illegal) that they can then deliver to an audience of high school students. Before visiting the actual schools, these presentations are critiqued by both the instructors and peers alike to help improve them. The first half of the quarter focuses on polishing the presentations and the second half of the quarter is geared towards the actual field presentations.





Fundamentals of Biology (Biology 3)

This is an introductory course to biology. This course gives a broad overview of how living systems function and coexist on planet earth. As such, students will cover a broad range of material, starting with the chemistry of life and cell structure, molecular and cellular biology, genetics, anatomy and physiology of plants and animals (including humans), biodiversity, evolution and ecology. Current environmental issues, new developments in biological science, and bioethics are discussed. Laboratory experiences are integrated into the course to stress scientific methodology and critical thinking. The purpose of the course is to arm students with a general understanding of living systems and how they function and interacts with the environment.





Introduction to Human Anatomy (Anatomy 1)

This course introduces the major structural characteristics of the cells, tissues, and organs comprising the following systems of the human body: integumentary, skeletal, muscular, nervous, circulatory, lymphatic, respiratory, digestive, urinary, male/female reproductive and endocrine systems. The students are expected to describe the locations of the major tissues and organs of these systems. The course is divided into two sections: 1) a lecture component to introduce the basic anatomical concepts, and 2) a lab component where students learn to use microscopes, study the human skeleton, and dissect cats to primarily study the muscular, digestive, respiratory, digestive, urinary and reproductive systems.



Here are some education articles I have published describing new pedagogical strategies I have helped develop in the last few years:


  1. “Deconstructing” Scientific Research: A Practical and Scalable Pedagogical Tool to Provide Evidence-Based Science Instruction.

I.E. Clark*, R. Romero-Calderón*, J.M. Olson, L. Jaworski, D. Lopatto & U. Banerjee

PLOS Biology. 2009 Dec; 7(12):e1000264.


Click here to download full paper


  1. Project Brainstorm: Using Neuroscience to Connect College Students with Local Schools.

R. Romero-Calderón, E.D. O’Hare, N.A. Suthana, A.A. Scott-Van Zeeland, A. Rizk-Jackson, A. Attar, S. Madsen, C.A. Ghiani, C.J. Evans & J.B. Watson

PLOS Biology, 2012 Apr; 10(4):e1001310.


Click here to download full paper


Click here to download an abbreviated summary