Professor & Department Head, Chemistry and Biochemistry
University of Arizona
Dr. Miesfeld is featured in ACUE’s module: Using Active Learning Techniques in Large Classes.
Miesfeld uses active learning methods in his upper division biochemistry course designed for students who are pursuing careers as healthcare professionals. This two-semester course covers the range of topics that students need to understand fundamental concepts in modern biochemistry, as well as provide them with the foundation they need for competitive national exams in their chosen fields. This popular course averages nearly 450 students per section and is taught in a state-of-the-art classroom in the Environment and Natural Resources building on the University of Arizona campus.
As a Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Arizona for nearly 30 years, Miesfeld has taught biochemistry to medical students, graduate students, undergraduate biochemistry majors, and most recently, undergraduate life science majors for which a biochemistry course is required for their own major. These teaching experiences have led him to develop a teaching style that incorporates active learning methods for large classes using a “content and context” philosophy. Specifically, the degree of difficulty and conceptual underpinnings of modern biochemistry (content), combined with a class size of 450 junior and senior level STEM students (context), impacts the effectiveness of active learning methods with regard to both the type of methods used, and the amount of time devoted to active learning exercises. His approach uses a balanced presentation of compelling lecture material, intermixed with student-driven activities (multiple-choice questions and short answer responses), which leads to a hybrid classroom environment that is very effective in a large classroom environment.
Miesfeld earned his PhD in Biochemistry from Stony Brook University in New York, and was a Research Fellow in the Biochemistry and Biophysics Department at the University of California, San Francisco, before joining the faculty at the University of Arizona. His research group studies eukaryotic cell signaling, with a specific focus on metabolic regulation in blood-feeding Dengue Fever mosquitoes. Miesfeld, and his colleague Dr. Megan McEvoy at the University of Arizona, have coauthored a Biochemistry textbook to be published by W.W. Norton Publishing in Summer 2016 that is based on the material taught in their two-semester biochemistry course.