Worldwide Teaching from UW Madison

Toxicology Students Provide “Worldwide” Teaching through Project 1808

Following a presentation by MET affiliate Dr. Alhaji N’Jai in March 2018, nine MET students began work developing a toxicology course for college-level students at the University of Sierra Leone.  Using a “Backwards Design” plan created by Cara Theisen of the WiScience Teaching Fellows group and after discussions with Dr. N’Jai and Dr. Bradfield, the nine identified what they wanted the students to learn. From there, the group began “developing backwards” towards creating objectives, defining expectations, and ultimately creating the curriculum that was packaged into a module-based lesson plan that a facilitator running the course in Sierra Leone could navigate, despite being over five thousand miles away from the course creators. These materials were finalized in Madison in October for use in teaching in Sierra Leone in February.

The inaugural course, taught by Alhaji this semester, drew twelve participants from all over the country, and focused on toxicology basics such as biotransformation, dose-response analysis, air pollution, water pollution, risk assessment, and entomology / pesticide toxicology.  The course was favorably reviewed.  Requests for more and deeper lessons were made.  The nine will use this feedback to drive further improvements and create additional, more advanced course options.

Three of the MET students who participated in the endeavor intend to go to Sierra Leone in January to meet with students, faculty, and government officials in the country. These three will also create and facilitate a toxicology-based workshop that will be taught over the course of a week and leave participants with a certification in toxicology.

Word of this venture, and its successes, have made the scientific rounds, including well-received posters at the Society of Toxicology Annual Meeting, the Bouchet Induction Ceremony at Yale, and at the UW-CALS Global Health Symposium.  A manuscript to Toxicological Sciences, documenting the novel nature of this course and its development, is currently in-prep.

Rachel Wilson, who was interviewed for this piece, selected the MET Program here in Madison because of the faculty members involved in the Center, the Wisconsin Idea, and other professional development opportunities, including teaching fellowships that led to projects like this.  Her activity and participation in the Center also provided her with opportunities she was not sure she could have received anywhere else.  The MET program is home to many students like those that participated in this project, that are excited to improve the world using the skills, relationships, and knowledge acquired during their time in the program. She looks to graduate in December and is looking for postdoc opportunities that could lead to an academic / faculty position down the road, so if you are looking, feel free to reach out to her.

No matter what her future holds, she intends to stay involved with Project 1808.

The nine students who participate in this project include: Folagbay Arowolo, Mele Avilla, Lily Gonzaelz-Vazquez, Molly Morgan, Benjamin Sancehz-Sedillo, Samuel Thomas, Morgan Walcheck, Rachel Wilson, Jeremiah Yee.