I am a senior lecturer in Microbiology, where I teach and coordinate the General Microbiology Lab course (BioMi 2911). My goal for this course is to show students how scientists use experiments to learn new information about the microbes around us. In addition, I’m in charge of training TA’s how to teach. To that end, I offer a course, BIOMI 7960 - Current Topics in Microbiology Education as needed.
My research focuses on scientific teaching-- how do we know our students are learning? Working with graduate students in the department, we develop and assess new teaching tools.
Outreach and Extension Focus
As a senior lecturer in Microbiology, my current professional focus is on incorporating student-centered learning into our many different classroom environments, and assessment of that learning. I am currently coordinator of the General Microbiology Lab (BioMi 2911), where we are working to incorporate more investigative learning into the lab course so that every activity starts with a hypothesis that students test through experimentation. I use personal response systems in my recitation class, and work to engage students using real-life applications and examples. My goals as an educator are to also train our TAs in current pedagogy. To that end, I teach a graduate level teaching course called “Current Topics in Microbiology Teaching” (BioMi 7960). In this class, graduate students learn how to develop, grade and evaluate teaching materials that we use in the lab and lecture classes. I also teach a new course in Public Health Microbiology with Dr. Jim Shapleigh, (BioMi 2500).
Awards and Honors
- Carski Foundation Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching Award (2015) American Society for Microbiology
- Innovative Teaching Award (2011) Cornell CALS
- Merkel, S. M., Hanson, B., & Parks, A. (2010). A Small Group Activity About Bacterial Regulation And Complementation. journal of micro and bio education. 11:152-155.
- Merkel, S. M., Walman, L., & LEVENTHAL, J. (2000). An Evaluation of Computer Based Instruction in Microbiology. Microbiology Education. 1:14-19.