UC Davis has an outstanding faculty. Over the last 9 quarters I have had the pleasure of attending the lectures of many great professors. Here I will list some of my favorite lecturers and explain what made their classes exceptional.
SAS 30 – Mushrooms, Mold, Society
Tom Gordon was the most engaging, fun professor I have taken at UC Davis. While it’s easy to make lecture fun when the subject is fungi, Tom Gordon elevates his lectures to another level with nonstop fascinating historical examples, peculiar anecdotes, and impeccable comedic timing. I got lucky registering for SAS 30 as a sophomore, as most seats are filled by seniors with earlier pass times looking to take this fairly straightforward, albeit renowned GE.
Despite being predominantly seniors and no participation points, SAS 30 lectures always had surprisingly good attendance – a testament to Dr. Gordon’s ability to engage students. I can say with confidence that this is the only class I have taken with zero stress and no reluctance to go to lecture. Although seemingly not offered in Fall 2018, SAS 30 is usually offered every Fall quarter. On Halloween the quarter I took this course, Dr. Gordon, in full Darth Vader costume, engaged in a lightsaber duel with this TA. The entertainment value of Dr. Gordon’s lectures is better than most TV. Regardless of your initial interest in fungi, you will leave this class with a lasting appreciation for mushrooms and mold.
BIS 183– Functional genomics
Dr. Brady had excellent speaking presence and organization of course materials that student’s can depend upon. Her friendliness and openness to questions resulted in more class participation than I have ever seen for a lecture that size. The papers assigned for reading were interesting, lectures were organized well with citations so I could easily find the papers which she pulled figures and examples from. Jeopardy day was fun, and practice exam material was helpful and relevant. This was simply an excellently instructed course and I highly recommend Dr. Brady to anyone who has the opportunity to a class under her.
BIS 103 – Bioenergetics and Metabolism
Oliver Fiehn accomplishes the impossible by teaching biochemistry with bubbly enthusiasm. He explains metabolism intuitively by personifying metabolites and enzymes when discussing their pathways. Fiehn has a good sense of humor, was very approachable, and never failed to answer a question. The flow of information was logical and the organization of the course worked really well for me. One thing I appreciated about Dr. Fiehn is that he would release all previous years’ tests as study material. This eliminated the imbalance of study material spread between students because of test-bank resources that only some students might have access to.
WFC 134 – Herpetology
I am biased here because I am a huge herpetology nerd and was very excited to take this course, but Brian Todd was an excellent professor. Dr. Todd has a great speaking presence and is very clear in his organization and expectations of students. Monotonous parts of lecture describing family after family of frog were broken up with relevant clips from Davis Attenborough. For someone who registered for WFC 134 with high expectations, I was not let down by the quality of Dr. Todd’s lectures.
BIS 2C – Introduction to Biology: Biodiversity and the Tree of Life
It has been two entire years now since I took BIS 2C and my memory has somewhat faded but I remember Dr. Ward as one of the first professors whose lectures I absolutely loved. What stuck with me most was hearing about his harrowing experience of leaches falling from trees in Australia. The enthusiasm he had for evolution and biodiversity matched my own enthusiasm – which made me excited to attend his lectures.
I have had other great professors at UC Davis that I could have included on this list, and I am sure there are countless others whose courses I have not taken. These five professors are ones I remember especially, and I highly recommend taking any course under these professors.
BASC Peer Advisor
4th Year, Genetics and Genomics major