In planning for remote learning this fall, Dr. Ryan Skophammer wanted to find ways to engage students away from screens. He found the solution in the form of a podcast for his AP Biology class, which gives students more flexibility in their schedules and their eyes a break. It has also served as a valuable platform to give students access to more guest speakers (including alumnae!) than would be possible to do in a typical year.

In each episode, Dr. Skophammer presents background information and insight into topics the class is studying, and three of the six episodes produced so far have featured conversations with guest speakers! Westridge alumna Sophia Kaplan ’19 was featured in the first episode, discussing her own experience in Dr. Skophammer’s AP Biology class and offering advice to current students. An episode on the evidence for evolution (which you can listen to by clicking here) welcomed Bryce Taylor, a scientist from the University of Washington who has collaborated with Dr. Skophammer on the long-term yeast evolution project (click here to read more about it) over the past three years.

“My favorite part of having the podcast is the different guests he brings in because they each bring a fresh and insightful view on things,” said Charlotte Z. ’22. “It’s helpful to hear another perspective on these subjects, and to hear the related tangents about ways we can apply what we just learned to real life (like how COVID relates to natural selection).” 

While some of the guest speakers are professionals in the biology field (such as Mr. Taylor), others simply have personal interests in the topics and are eager to help educate a new cohort of AP Biology students.

“I think it’s always good to hear from a variety of sources,” said Dr. Skophammer. “With a conversation there’s a give-and-take that is particularly helpful because it allows for discussion of specific ideas that might be confusing for students and allows for clarification.”

Other subjects the podcast will cover include:

  • Natural selection (guest speaker Abbey Piatt Price ’20)
  • Biochemistry (guest speaker Alexandra Phillips, a grad student at Caltech)
  • Molecular Biology technology (guest speaker Leanne Wang ’15)
  • How Genotype Influence Phenotype (guest speaker Sadia Rodriguez, who taught Dr. Skophammer in college genetics and is the mother of identical twins)



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