Hi everyone! My name is Nehal Chakraborty. I’m a native of Northern Virginia and came to Pitt to study Neuroscience on a Pre-Med track. I also minor in English Literature and Chemistry, and have a certificate in Conceptual Foundations of Medicine. Through the Chancellor’s Undergraduate Teaching Fellowship, I am working with Dr. Linda O’Reilly to create exam review materials for her BIOSC 0150: Foundations Biology 1 class.
As a Biology 1 UTA, I spend a great deal of time working with students during lectures, recitations, and UTA drop-in hours. Outside of these duties, I am putting together review materials for each exam that allow students to summarize biology concepts using diagrams and graphic organizers. Dr. O’Reilly and I aim to encourage hands-on, visual exercises to help students process information efficiently. From my time being a student in the class, and my previous experience as a UTA with Dr. O’Reilly back in 2021, I have learned firsthand how helpful it is to draw out concepts. I am currently creating review sheets that emphasize visual thinking. For example, students have the opportunity to draw hydrogen bonds between the atoms in water molecules, label various functional groups of a lipid molecule, draw out carbohydrate chains, and organize characteristics of major macromolecules in a table. I will receive feedback from students and other UTAs to see how I can better plan out future review sheets and tailor them to their needs.
I believe that this project not only provides a scaffold for students’ studying but also an avenue for them to interact with UTAs. Students are encouraged to attend UTA drop-in hours to go over review sheet solutions and to receive help on its concepts. Dr. O’Reilly and I hope that the exam review sheets will motivate students to seek help and advice from UTAs more often, which will lead to more doubts being cleared and students feeling more confident about the material.
Being a UTA for Biology 1 fits into my long-term goals to pursue a career in medicine. Since I am on the pre-medicine track, I view my experiences as a Biology UTA as a very hands-on way to prepare for the MCAT, a medical school entrance exam. Explaining biology concepts to other students helped me solidify my own understanding of the subject. Helping students learn a subject that I love boosts my own confidence in the topic and builds communication skills, which will greatly benefit me in medical school and also in a career as a physician.
When I started my time here at Pitt, I walked onto campus hoping to one day leave my mark here, no matter how big or small it may be. I became involved in various team and leadership roles on campus and then became a recurring UTA for this class. While I did not realize it back then, helping students learn Foundation Biology is my way of making an impact on other people here at Pitt!