“Simply transferring information from me to my students does injustice to the nature of scientific thinking.”
In Paul Meyer Duffin's eyes, the field of biology cannot be reduced to a simple list of facts to learn or processes to be memorized. Instead, he says, students must be able to think critically about the subject at hand, to evaluate the information and, ultimately, to take a genuine interest in the material.
"This type of learning is often demanding for students who are used to receiving facts to memorize, but the rewards are immense," says Duffin. "To quote a Chinese proverb, 'Tell me and I'll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I'll understand.'"
Duffin, who teaches microbiology, biological interactions, and bacterial pathogenesis, always strives to involve students in the process of how important and seminal discoveries were made, which "lays the foundation for teaching students to understand how scientists ask and answer questions."
"Inquiry-based learning is much more true to the nature of science and has a deeper impact on students," Duffin adds.
In addition to teaching, Duffin is highly involved in research in the areas of molecular microbiology, bacteriology, bacterial pathogenesis, and bacterial genetics. During the summer, he works with two to three students in his lab to "understand how the pathogen Neisseria gonorrhoeae exchanges DNA with other bacteria via natural transformation."
"My excitement for understanding how the world works reaches far beyond my own research in microbiology, and I am compelled to share my interest in sciences with others."