Teaching


I teach basic undergraduate and advanced graduate level courses on Evolutionary Biology, Immunology and Genetics at Ashoka University. I am also designing diverse teaching modules on evolution, animal behavior and bio-statistics as part of a course on introductory biology for incoming students. This will cover broad concepts rather than the details of each topic. In addition, I am developing an advanced course on Evolutionary Genetics of Infectious Disease for graduate students to encourage ecological and evolutionary thinking while addressing biology of disease and infection.

List of the courses offered so far

Theory

  1. Genetics (Level 100): The primary objective of the course is to revise basic concepts, which the students learnt in their high school and then move on to advanced concepts of transmission, molecular and population genetics. The course is taught with a historical timeline, introducing concepts in genetics as they occurred over time.
  2. Evolutionary Biology (Level 300/600): This is a basic evolution course designed specifically for undergraduates and PhD students without any prior training in evolutionary biology, where the primary goal is to encourage the evolutionary thinking among students – a broad understanding of the key concepts and theories in evolutionary biology, including principles of natural selection and variation, sexual selection, population genetics, quantitative genetics, speciation and biodiversity, molecular evolution, co-evolution, and life history evolution.
  3. Immunology and Evolution (With Satyajit Rath, IISER Pune) (Level 300/600): Introducing students to molecules, cells and organs that shape invertebrate and vertebrate immune system, structural features of components of the immune system and mechanisms involved in its development and function. Subsequently, we discuss evolutionary pathways and constraints that have led to the development of functional innate and adaptive immunity, tracing the conserved and unique features of the immune response across species and adaptive changes in pathogens that have shaped the evolution of the immune system. Together, this course is designed to provide holistic insights into the development and function of immune system, integrating emerging concepts from classical immunology and evolutionary biology to understand how organisms resist or endure infections and diseases.

Lab 

  1. Exploring Life in the Neighbourhood (with Shivani Krishna, Ashoka University) (Level 100): Introducing students to their local ecosystem and biological world by involving both fieldwork and lab work, using open ended exercises, wherein students are encouraged to come up with small questions and seek answers by experimentation.
  2. Ecology & Evolution (with Shivani Krishna, Ashoka University) (Level 300): Introduction to quantitative methods of research in ecology and evolution including experimental design, data collection, analysis, interpretation and scientific writing using field and laboratory studies.

 

Lectures & discussions on liberal arts and Sciences

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A lecture on Haldane, science & liberal arts, Pune 2020

For liberal arts students, I feel happy to present a broad conceptual and historical introduction to scientific theories of evolution and their relevance in the wider culture and philosophical context. Evolutionary biology is one discipline that actually straddles the domains of science and humanities easily: it is an explicitly historical subject and often has to grapple with the challenge of having to derive logical inferences from natural experiments (what actually happened) without the luxury of replication, as is the case in history. Also, principles of ecology and evolution give a very different perspective on issues like rise and fall of societies and empires, cultural evolution, gene-culture co-evolution (e.g. yam farming-malaria-sickle cell; lactose tolerance-cattle herding), evolution of sociality, nepotism, despotism vs egalitarian animal societies (socio-ecological theory), evolutionary psychology as well as Darwinian medicine. I often discuss them by reviewing key texts, re-analyzing key debates and through separate classrooms and seminar presentations.