While doing my field research in Tahiti in 2008-09, I also taught two fifth-grade science classes as part of the National Science Foundation's GK-12 program. It was my first time teaching anything, but made me realize that teaching is my calling. I ended up writing a chapter of my dissertation on the program, looking at how a natural history-based curriculum can improve students' scientific knowledge.

Overview of GK-12 Program in Tahiti Page 1

Overview of GK-12 Program in Tahiti Page 2

Overview of GK-12 Program in Tahiti Page 3

Spring 2018 Courses

Biology 29, "Biology of the Living World"

​Class Description: Biology of the Living World is the class for everyone, because everyone needs nature in their life. In this class, we explore biophilia, humans’ innate need for interacting with animals, plants, and other organisms through a (literally) hands-on approach involving field trips, classroom discussions/lectures, and lab activities. Starting with the underlying principle of all biology, evolution, we will parade through the entire tree of life, starting with the simplest bacteria that first showed up 4 billion years ago and ending with our species, Homo sapiens. Whether you love sharks or slime molds, pandas or Paramecium, there will be something for everyone who enjoys a trip to the aquarium or gets stuck on the Discovery Channel.             

Taught with emphasis on active learning and not lectures and exams, Biology of the Living World is intended for non-majors at Merritt College or life-learners who want more knowledge and experience with natural history and biodiversity. Go to http://www.merritt.edu/wp/steps/ to enroll now!

Biology 62S, "Natural History of the Islands of California"

Class Description: Weird things happen on islands--they are the outposts of the bizarre and anomalous. In this 2-unit field course, we examine the flora, fauna, and geology of California's islands, with focus on the North Channel Islands, the Farallon Islands, and the Islands of San Francisco Bay. The course provides a core education in natural history and island biogeography theory, with an emphasis on the relevance of the islands to Californians' lives.


I believe undergraduate education is one of the keys to our society's success. During my Ph.D., I decided to focus my career on education at the college level, and am now teaching biology at Merritt College in Oakland, CA. I call my teaching philosophy P.A.R.E. (Personalized, Active, Relevant, Equitable). It boils down to getting to know my students as individuals and caring for them as people, using a variety of teaching techniques that actively engage students in their own learning, giving students answers to the question "who cares?" as often as possible, and creating a fair, accessible classroom environment based on respect.

Brad Balukjian, ph.d.