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Teaching Philosophy

    During my study at the Moscow State University and the Academy of Science in Russia, I have received from my teachers not only Fundamentals of Science, but also—ability to identify and conceive a challenging scientific problem, to find the most important related information, and to propose a plan of solving the problem. My teaching is grounded on this philosophy, which, I believe, helps students in their future career to be on the front line of Science and to be actively involved in research process. 
    As a faculty member of Auburn University, I started my teaching activity as a co-adviser of Ph.D. students willing to get training in combinatorial biochemistry and phage display, and to perform their dissertation work in my laboratory. First, my major efforts were directed to teach students how to plan their experiments, design laboratory protocols and run experiments. Very soon, however, I realized that the students needed a special theoretical course in Combinatorial Biochemistry that would help them to refresh and systemize the Chemical and Biochemical Fundamentals, and based on that foundation, to understand a logic and philosophy of molecular evolutionary approach in development of new materials for Pathobiology and Veterinary Medicine, such as vaccines or diagnostics. The backbone of the course was formulated as a result of the every day one-to-one discussions with the students. The first attempt to present material, which was part of the major course “Experimental Techniques In Molecular and Cell Biology”, was very successful: the students were very interested in this new emerging discipline, and some of them later asked that an introductory course (4-5 credits lecture and laboratory) be offered. The new course was offered Spring semesters 2003. 2004, 2005 and 2006. 
    The course “Combinatorial Biochemistry and Phage Display” consists of three major blocks: 1) Chemical Fundamentals and Structure of Biopolymers, 2) Metabolism of Biopolymers, and 3) Combinatorial Biochemistry and Phage Display. Consistent with my philosophy of teaching, I explain the Biochemical Fundamentals in their historical evolution and provide lectures with many experimental illustrations from the pioneering and classical works. The laboratory part of the course is designed to give the students an essential experience working with DNA, bacteria, bacteriophage and phage libraries. The students learn how to design selection protocols and run biopanning, how to characterize selected clones and how to interpret the data. The final exam includes writing a short proposal on using the methods of molecular evolution for development of new diagnostic devices, for example for diagnosis of SARS. Thus, the major goal of this course is to teach students how to harness the power of biological selection and molecular evolution in their diverse future plans.
    Another course offering (Summer semesters 2003, 2004) aims to teach the students the technique of developing diagnostic probes for detection and monitoring of biological threat agents, such as Bacillus anthracis and Salmonella typhimurium. This course is more advanced than the “Combinatorial…” course, and teaches students to design and manage their own specific diagnostic projects in Pathobiology.
    Students under my supervision gain extensive experience in preparation and use of detector systems for identification of environmental threat agents. They also gain comprehensive knowledge and expertise in Directed Molecular Evolution, Combinatorial Biochemistry, Phage Biology, Phage Display technology and Biosensor technology.

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