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Assistant/Associate Professor -- Evolutionary Biology

Beloit College seeks an excellent teacher and productive researcher to fill a tenure-track position at the rank of Assistant or Associate Professor beginning with the 2015–16 academic year. 

Position details

The successful applicant will hold a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology or a related field with a focus in one or more of the following: evolutionary ecology, phylogenetics, bioinformatics, evolutionary developmental biology, or other relevant areas. 

Teaching duties will include an annual intermediate course in evolution required for biology majors, an introductory biology course for biology majors and non-majors, other advanced courses in evolutionary biology, and, occasionally, an intermediate genetics course required for biology and biochemistry majors.

The successful candidate will also develop a research program that engages undergraduates, contribute to all-college programs such as first- and second-year seminars, interdisciplinary studies, and international education, and serve in leadership roles in campus governance. We welcome applications from candidates with laboratory, field, and/or computational interests. We especially seek candidates who have demonstrated success in working with ethnically, culturally, and/or socio-economically diverse populations of students. This position is an excellent opportunity to teach in a department nationally known for innovative pedagogy with a long track record of successfully mentoring young faculty members.

Applications

Inquiries may be addressed to Professor Yaffa Grossman, chair of the search committee, at evolbio@beloit.edu.

Interested individuals should submit a letter of interest, curriculum vitae, statements of teaching and research interests, unofficial transcripts, and three letters of reference to the Center for the Sciences Academic Program Coordinator at evolbio@beloit.edu.  To ensure full consideration, please submit all materials by Oct. 10, 2014. The search will remain open until the position is filled.

Beloit College

Located in a diverse community close to Madison, Milwaukee, and Chicago, Beloit College is a highly selective undergraduate liberal arts college with students from 48 states and nearly 40 countries. 18% of our 1250 students and 15% of our 110 full-time faculty members are domestic persons of color. The college emphasizes excellence in teaching, learning beyond the traditional classroom, international perspectives, and collaborative research among students and faculty. Recognized as one of the Colleges that Change Lives and among the Great Colleges to Work For, Beloit is committed to the educational benefits of diversity in our learning community and encourages all interested individuals meeting the criteria of the described position to apply.

AA/EEO Employer

Additional information

The position

The evolutionary biology faculty member will join us in engaging students in the exploration of biological concepts through coursework, mentored research collaboration, experiential learning, community outreach, and advising. We seek a scholar who

  • has strong teaching and mentoring abilities,
  • is committed to the investigative pedagogies and collaboration that have characterized the faculty of the biology department in the last two decades,
  • articulates a clear research program that will involve Beloit students in potentially publishable research projects,
  • will develop into a strong advisor, and
  • will participate in faculty governance and develop into a faculty leader.

The new faculty member will

  • teach a wide variety of students in introductory, intermediate courses,
  • offer advanced courses for biology majors that may also interest anthropology, geology, psychology, health and society, environmental studies, and chemistry majors,
  • contribute to Beloit College’s curriculum by teaching courses in the Universe (4U) domain and with quantitative (Q) and writing (W) skill labels,
  • mentor students in Liberal Arts in Practice and capstone activities that include original research and/or community-based engagement, and
  • enhance our ability to support the college’s interdisciplinary emphasis through the Environmental Studies, Initiatives, and Health and Society programs.

Biology Department

The biology department seeks to inspire and enable students to grow in their scientific understanding. Our courses and curriculum present a dynamic approach to scientific investigation: posing problems for study, proposing and probing hypotheses, and persuading peers. Using evolution as the unifying theme of biology, we emphasize current biological methods and rigorous conceptual analyses at all scales of organization, from molecules to cells to organisms to ecological communities. We encourage biology majors to interact extensively with professors and with each other, and we use a variety of learning activities to illustrate the tools of the trade, to reinforce concepts, and to apply problem-solving techniques. We prepare our students to think critically about important biological issues and to apply their informed analyses as citizens and professionals.

All of the science departments at Beloit engage in student-centered, problem-focused, collaborative learning, beginning with “workshop”-based introductory classes of 24–28 students who engage in active and collaborative learning throughout the semester; the biology department is a leader in this pedagogy. Workshop sessions use a mix of lecture, discussion, laboratory and/or field activities, modeling, and small group problem-solving. In these sessions, students actively develop knowledge and skills, which they then apply in new contexts. These courses connect basic science to problems within the students’ lived experiences. For example, in Human Biology, students develop hypotheses using disease distribution maps, and investigate case studies of diseases at both the individual and population level. In Microbiology, students examine microbial physiology as it relates to environmental remediation and diseases. Our approach places inquiry and analysis at the core of our classes, and, as the Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities program (SENCER) advocates, we teach science content through the exploration of questions that matter (SENCER 2013). Workshop courses also introduce experimental design and data visualization and analysis to the mix of science majors and non-majors, all of whom gain a sense of the multiple perspectives that may be brought to bear in problem-solving. Rates of attrition (5%) and failure (1%). According to Student Assessment of Learning Gains (SALG) data, 74% of students increase their enthusiasm for the subject and 84% report a moderate, good, or great interest in discussing science with friends and family (Johnson and Fass 2009). Intermediate and advanced courses in biology also use problem-based inquiry and collaborative active learning, with greater emphasis on critical analysis of primary literature, design and implementation of independent research projects, and oral, poster, video, and written reporting of original results. Collaborative and independent research projects that deepen knowledge and encourage students to chart their own educational course are an important parallel component of a Beloit biology education.

Teaching and Research Climate

Biology faculty members model the liberal arts by engaging in critical thinking, quantitative reasoning, and integration of knowledge in courses, research projects, and other interactions with students. In addition to “biology” content, biology courses address the history, philosophy, and sociology of science; ethics; and contemporary social issues such as environmental challenges, conservation, sustainability, poverty, and ethical behavior. Biology faculty members have taught a variety of interdisciplinary course recently, including Nutrition to Nuclear Power, Omnivore’s Dilemma, Conservation Biology and Restoration Ecology, and Global Health. They also make presentations and engage students in classes in a wide range of departments, work with athletics teams such as volleyball and basketball, and serve as active campus leaders on major committees.

Biology is regularly one of the most popular majors at Beloit College and biology faculty and students are active in research and other experiences. The biology department emphasizes student collaboration in nearly all aspects of its coursework, most especially in student-designed research projects, which begin in introductory courses and are developed further in later courses. The department further facilitates group learning by involving as many as a third of biology students as course assistants and research associates, some of them multiple times. More than half of our biology majors engage in research off campus, over a quarter perform research with Beloit faculty, and about two-thirds hold an internship or have a professional experience. During 2008–2014, continuing biology faculty members published nine papers with 14 different student co-authors and presented 11 conference papers and posters with 11 different student co-authors at national meetings of professional societies.

The Beloit College Sustainability Fellows and Biomedical Scholars programs, which are managed by biology faculty members, provide funded research and internship opportunities to biology and other students during the summer. Professional development funds for research and conference activities are available to faculty through the Program and Professional Development Committee.

About 50% of biology graduates enter graduate programs and an additional 20% enter professional programs in medicine, veterinary science, physical therapy, nursing, and athletic training. In addition, approximately 15% of biology graduates join the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps or Teach for America, or became educators (primary, secondary, environmental, English language).

Teaching Load and Other Opportunities

The teaching load for full-time members of the biology department at Beloit College is three lab courses (each with one lab section) and one seminar course each year. Successful candidates also have the opportunity to participate in all-college programs such as First-Year Initiatives (FYI), Interdisciplinary Studies (IDST), and International Education. Established in 1991, FYI Seminars provide an introduction to college-level study in which entering first-year students learn to be both students of the liberal arts and students at Beloit College. IDST programs enable Beloit College students to explore and address complex issues through inquiry between and beyond disciplinary boundaries. Interdisciplinary offerings include courses, program-supported majors and minors, and self-designed majors and minors. International Education at Beloit College includes the enrollment and support of students from around the world; study abroad and exchange programs; a curriculum rich in international and global content and attentive to the role of the United States; support for faculty, staff, and other resource development; the hosting of visiting scholars; and the encouragement of a campus environment hospitable to international education, including a full range of co-curricular activities. Nearly half of biology majors study abroad for at least one semester.

Center for the Sciences at Beloit College

In 2008, Beloit celebrated the opening of our new LEED Platinum-certified Center for the Sciences, designed to support the inquiry-based education, collaborative student research and interdisciplinary learning that is the hallmark of a Beloit education. Project Kaleidoscope highlighted this space as an example of a structure that serves goals for learning and for sustainability. The science center houses 37 teaching and research labs for use by faculty and student colleagues engaged in undergraduate research activities. Each department and program maintains some local equipment, but the ethos of the sciences at Beloit College encourages active sharing of resources within and across departments and among disciplines. All equipment and facilities are accessible to students with appropriate supervision; in most cases students, once certified, become primary users. Shared equipment includes a scanning electron microscope, a geographic information system (GIS) and visualization computer laboratory with nine triple-boot (Linux, Windows, Mac-OSX) quad-processor computers and 30-inch flat panel monitors, and a GEO-Wall 3-dimensional projection system. A college-funded doctoral-level equipment specialist maintains major instruments and teaches courses on the use of instrumentation. The biology department has four well-equipped laboratories designed for class use, a computer lab, and smaller research suites for student and faculty research and advanced laboratory exercises. The department also maintains animal care and research facilities and a greenhouse. Beloit College owns a prairie and a woodland field site that are available for field studies.

Search Timeline and Process

The search committee’s plan (subject to change) is to review applications in early October, conduct phone interviews with top candidates immediately thereafter, and then invite candidates for campus interviews in late October. Campus interviews will include meetings with students, faculty from biology and other departments, and administrators. Each candidate will also give a research seminar for faculty and students, and teach a sample class as part of the interview.

Literature cited

Johnson, K. M. S., and M. F. Fass. 2009. Integration of classroom activities teaches content while encouraging application of knowledge to real world situations. Poster. Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities Summer Institute, Chicago, IL, August 6-11, 2009

[SENCER] Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities. 2013. SENCER. http://www.sencer.net/. Accessed Jan. 23, 2013.

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