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Current Instructors

Dr. Jim Burnette

Jim, along with Dr. Sue Wessler, developed the Dynamic Genome Course. After receiving his B.S. in '95 and Ph. D. in '00 and completing a post-doctoral fellowship, he found his place in science education. Jim uses his expertise as a scientist to break down concepts and protocols for success in the teaching laboratory. The result was landing at UCR, making it his home, and dedicating his time to supporting students in Biology 20, research, and careers.

Dr. Venki Chetty

Venki brings an international perspective to the Dynamic Genome Program. She grew up in India and received her B.S. ('87) and Ph.D. ('94). She completed a post-doctoral fellowship in Switzerland before immigrating to the USA. Dr. Chetty's expertise is in plant tissue culture and her research benefits BIOL020 by providing her insight, research specimens, and overall support. Venki mentors the Undergraduate Laboratory Assistants not only in lab prep but, more importantly, what it means to be a scientist.

Mr. Alex Cortez

Alex immigrated from Mexico to Riverside during his middle school years. Twice a Highlander (B.S. '02 and M.S. '09), Alex is most passionate about encouraging first-generation students to go to university and excel. He directs the Dynamic Genome Outreach Group and is an instructor for the BIOL020 courses. Alex also coordinates the Undergraduate Laboratory Assistants. 


Dr. Susan Wessler

As a Distinguished Professor and Home Secretary of the National Academy of Sciences, Sue is adamant that substantial change in undergraduate education at university must be advocated by the most lauded and decorated professors. She received funding from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to develop a course to teach evolution and genomics. The result was the Dynamic Genome Course offered at UCR.

Learn more about Sue's research by visiting her website


Past Instructors

Dr. Matt Collin

Matt is a twice UCR alumnus (B.S. '96, Ph.D.'10) and is passionate about educating all academics from undergraduates to professors in the most basic to the most advanced knowledge and techniques in genomics. He was an instructor for BIOL020 from 2012 to 2021. He is currently a project scientist with QIAgen.


Dr. Darcie Descalzo 

Darcie received her Ph.D. in 2014 and was an instructor for Biology 20 from 2014 to 2016. She is currently an assistant professor at El Camino College in Torrence, CA.

Dr. Christine Pham

Christine received her B.S. in 1988 from Stony Brook University in New York and her Ph. D. from UCR in 2016. Christine taught from 2018 to 2019.






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