Alan Turner: Teaching


Human Anantomy, Biology, Earth History and Fieldwork



I have taught courses ranging through the biological science disciplines with an emphasis on evolutionary biology, systematics, and gross human anatomy. My experience is shared among teaching undergraduates, graduate students, and medical students. I believe that a researcher who is passionate, knowledgeable, and active in the fields he or she is teaching makes for the most effective instructor. I believe my dedication to teaching excellence is evinced by my teaching evaluations over the years.

Gross Anatomy

Dissection remains the key to mastering human anatomy. Since 2008 I have taught HBA 531 The Body with five other of my fellow Anatomical Sciences faculty m embers at Stony Brook University Medical Center. In this class, we take a dissection-based regional approach to teaching human anatomy. The course is offered every Fall semester with an enrollment of roughly 130 first year medical students.



Teaching Experience

I teach a graduate-level course Phylogenetic Systematics, Biogeography, and Comparative Methods. This class consists of lectures and labs that combine overviews of modern phylogenetic and comparative methods with hands-on specimen-based projects training graduate students in relevant computer software like PAUP, TNT, MrBayes, COMPARE, and BayesTraits.

In addition to these formal teaching settings, I also co-organize a weekly Evolutionary Biology Discussion Group among graduate students and faculty in Anatomical Sciences, Ecology and Evolution, and Anthropology.

In the past I have taught general enrollment courses focusing on Earth History, Dinosaur Evolution, and Principles of Biology course.




Research  Mentoring

To date, I have served on the thesis committees four students, three of which have completed their thesis and now are employed in Anatomy programs or other research instituions in the US. My first PhD student, Sara Burch, successfully defended her dissertation at the end of 2013. Currently supervise two PhD students (Adam Pritchard and Jennifer Nestler).

Dr. Sarah Werning recently joined my lab as an NSF Postdoctoral Fellow. We will be collaborating on a project looking at the evolution of Crocodylomorph growth and metabolic rates in deep time.

Undergraduates who are interested in assisting the Turner Lab with this project should contact Dr. Werning by email at 



Student Mentoring

Through a partnership with Smithtown West High School, I help local high school students get exposure to and develop skill in conducting research. This has been a rewarding experience for both myself and the students. In 2010 Brian Ralph (top picture) qualified for a Simons Summer Research Fellowship and has participated in the Siemens Competition and was an 2011 Intel Research Competition semifinalist. Kavita Jain (bottom picture) qualified for a Simons Summer Research Fellowship in 2012 and was an 2012 Intel Research Competition semifinalist.


Image: High School Student






Image: Siemens Competition