Teaching and Outreach
University Teaching: Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts
BIOL 342: Anatomy and Physiology 1
Explores structure and function of the organ systems of the human body, with emphasis on the integumentary, skeletal, muscular, nervous and endocrine systems. An evolutionary perspective is applied to develop a holistic understanding of structure and function. The required laboratory includes histology, gross anatomy and physiology exercises.
BIOL 342: Anatomy and Physiology 2
Follows the same format as A+P 1 but with emphasis on the respiratory, cardiovascular, immune, renal and reproductive systems.
BIOL 484: Biomechanics
Covers anatomy of human muscles and joints, followed by basic kinetic and kinematic principles of human movement.
BIOL 440: Exercise Physiology
Catalog description: Develops an understanding of the phenomena involved in optimum physiological functioning during work performance, whether it be in everyday living or athletic participation. Provides students with an understanding of the physiological aspects of exercise and its practical applications. Required laboratory.
BIOL 330: Journal Article Discussion
This student-led, discussion-based course requires students to engage directly with primary source peer-reviewed scientific literature. Particular attention is paid to research design, methods of data analysis, and drawing conclusions directly from data.
CCHW 110: Science of Human Wellness (developed by A. Best, 2022)
Catalog description: Students engage with current ideas for maximizing human health, with an emphasis on separating pseudoscience from evidence-based practices. Questions addressed include: Is there an "optimal" diet? How much physical activity do humans need, and of what type? How is our modern lifestyle impacting our psychological and physical health? Students will apply these concepts towards their own physical and mental well-being.
DRAFT syllabus PDF:
PHED 215: Lifetime Wellness
Catalog description: Helps students develop a set of health behaviors that constitute what is generally considered to be a high energy lifestyle. These behaviors stress responsibility for one's health. Areas covered are physical fitness, nutrition and weight control, stress management, substance abuse, sexually transmitted disease and chronic disease.
BIOL 101: Biology Seminar for Majors
Catalog description: Introduces students to scientific skills that will support majors in their academic work. Explores the diversity of biological and health fields through presentations, scientific literature and communication activities, and interactions with peers and mentors. This seminar is required for students majoring in biology, health sciences and community health education.
University Teaching: other institutions
BIOL 321HE: Human Evolution (developed by A. Best, 2021)
Mount Holyoke College
In this seminar we explore ~6 million years of human evolutionary history. Key questions include: Why are we built the way we are? What are the biological characteristics that make us different from our primate relatives? What do we know about the hominin species that preceded Homo sapiens? How is our evolved biology mismatched with our modern environment, and what can we do about it? We will engage with these questions via readings (including primary scientific literature), discussion, writing assignments, and lecture.
Taught Spring Semester 2021
Anthropology 191: First Year Seminar - The Human Species
University of Massachusetts
In this course first-year students explore fundamental ideas in biological anthropology through hands-on labs, and discuss academic and personal skills needed for college success. This small class format (19 students maximum) is intended to help students foster meaningful connections during their first semester at college.
Taught Fall Semesters 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020
Anthropology 103: Human Origins and Variation
University of Massachusetts University Without Walls
An introduction to the field of biological anthropology: human evolution, human biological variation, primate evolution and diversity.
I give occasional guest lectures on the subjects of human evolution, the evolution of endurance running, and the evolution of human sweating. Recently I have presented guest lectures to: Human Origins and Variation (UMass, 2019), Human Evolution (UMass, 2020), Race and Biology (Mount Holyoke College, 2017, 2018, 2020), and Introduction to Biology (Mount Holyoke College, 2020).
High School Teaching
From 2006-2021 I taught 9th and 10th grade biology, first in Connecticut (2006) and then in Massachusetts (2007-2021). In addition to surveying the main subfields of biology and preparing students for the MCAS Biology test, students engaged in evolutionary theory at a deeper level than at most high schools, including a unit on human evolution. As of 2019, only a handful of states include human evolution in the biology teaching standards. Massachusetts is not among them and I feel strongly that this is a glaring omission from most states' curricula.
Outreach and Public Lectures
Lecture: "Ultramarathoners and the limits of human energy expenditure". University of Massachusetts Anthropology Facets of Evolution Colloqium series. November 2022. video
Podcast guest: "Short and Sweat". Origin Stories, Leakey Foundation Podcast. September 2021. podcast link
Lecture: "Beating the heat: How sweating helped make us human". Mount Holyoke College Biological Sciences Seminar Series, March 2020. video
Podcast guest: "How humans evolved to sweat". Let's Talk About Sweat, episode 3. April 2020. video
Lecture: "Beating the heat: How sweating helped make us human". Waikato Institute of Technology Research Bytes Seminar Series. April 2020. video
Lecture: "Endurance Running and Human Evolution". Sugarloaf Mountain Athletic Club annual dinner, 2016.