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David Manly
Freelance Science Journalist
Toronto Ontario CAN

David Manly is a freelance journalist who will blog about a wide range of topics that all fall under the umbrella of zoology and ecology. While his expertise lies with reptiles and amphibians, he has a wide array of knowledge and interest in all animal species - from the sponge to the great ape. He hopes you will enjoy his blog, as he plans to make it both entertaining and enjoyable (as well as fill it with interesting facts, tidbits, photos and videos).

My posts are presented as opinion and commentary and do not represent the views of LabSpaces Productions, LLC, my employer, or my educational institution.

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010


To begin this post, I want to talk about the worst teacher I ever had. The reason is because this teacher almost ruined my love of science.

I was always a science kid, who would rather study the ants on the soccer field than run after the ball. I would rather go to the museum or read about animals than play T-ball.

But in grade 10, I had a science teacher (who we will call Mr. L) who was a very competent teacher, but was not the most encouraging person on the planet. He would ask questions on tests that were never covered, as well as ask questions in the most complicated way possible. If you asked him a question in class, he would just shrug it off and tell you to figure it out yourself.

But there is one incident involving a lab report that made me question pursuing science as a career.

The lab report was done in groups, and one of the people in my group had all the data. But, the day before the lab was due, his grandmother in Vancouver passed away, so he flew there with his family immediately. However, he took the lab stuff with him, so there was no way we could get it back.

When we tried to explain the situation to Mr. L, he wouldn’t have it.

He failed all of us on the lab, and wouldn’t even accept it a few days later when the friend returned.  All of our parents were furious at the news, but there was nothing they could do.

And he just got worse from there.

Suffice to say, when grade 10 ended, I hate him and biology. I never wanted to go near the subject again.

However, thankfully my parents insisted I keep my options open and at least take grade 11 Biology. That class completely changed my opinion on Biology from hate back to a healthy obsession.

The teacher, Mr. I was passionate, funny, engaging and was happy to help. He was a great teacher who never spoke down to students, and who tried to make learning as fun as possible. He was also willing to answer whatever questions I would ask, even those way beyond my education (such as more in-depth on homeostasis, genetics, and biochemistry). But, he would answer them in ways I could understand.

He opened up my eyes on just how big and interesting the world can be!

It also helped that I was a genius in that class, and did extremely well (except on membrane transport … I never understood that until university!)

So, Mr. I helped foster my love of science, but two professors helped me even more than that.

In my first year biology class, I was introduced to a professor of mine (Dr. N), who was so delightfully quirky and funny, that we instantly hit it off. She was the person I would go to if I ever had any troubles, and with a smile on her face, she would help.

Dr. N helped me survive the perils of university (mostly) intact, and introduced me to a whole discipline of biology that I had initially written off as not for me. Now microbiology has become a hobby of mine.

Because of all we had been through during my university career, we have since become great friends. I will not go into specifics here on what she helped me through, but I owe her too much.

Finally, the last mentor I would like to focus on is Dr. K, who taught a course all about animals. It was his first job as a professor, so he was understandably nervous, but did a great job. I went up to him at the end of the class and told him how much I was looking forward to his lectures.

Over the semester, I was always early for the labs, so we'd chat. We got to know each other, and when he learned I wanted to go into Biology, he was happy to be my mentor and help me in any way that he could.

I took every one of his courses that the university offered, and he was always happy to see me. But, most impressively, when it came time for my thesis, he opened up his lab to me. He created a brand new area of research in his lab (with completely different species and protocols) so that I could work with him. No other student I knew had a professor do that for them, and the times working with him and his PhD student were amazing. I never stopped learning in that lab, and even now, he is always happy to see me and catch up.

I am grateful to Dr. K for being my supervisor, friend, and mentor.

All of these people – Mr. I, Dr. N, Dr. K (and even Mr. L) have shaped the mentor I have been and currently am for other students. I owe them all thanks, and I hope they know how much they influenced my life and career.

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Dr Becca, Ph.D.
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So glad things turned around! I had a horrid chem teacher in HS, whose influence made me go for a straight liberal arts degree--didn't get back into science until senior year of college!


Guest Comment

Nicely written piece.  A good science teacher can open up a whole new world, eh?

I hope you send a copy of this to each of your mentors, I'm sure that they will appreciate it.

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