May 22, 2004

Hua, Shao-Ying Silver_nugget
[BIOL W3004] Neurobiology I: Cellular & Molecular

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

I think there's a reason for the lack of reviews on Dr. Hua. She is an incredibly nice person but not necessarily the greatest professor. If you are a neuroscience major at Barnard, you cannot avoid taking Neurobiology and it looks like Dr. Hua's going to be teaching it for a while.
The good news? She is incredibly warm, friendly and understanding and if you go to her office hours she is willing to teach and explain the material over and over again. She is very patient, never patronizing, and truly cares about the success of her students. She is much more skilled in explaining concepts on a one to one basis as opposed to lecturing in class.
The bad news? She is not the greatest or most organized lecturer. She additionally has an accent that may take time getting used to and understanding. However, I overall found the material to be fascinating. It can be overwhelming and intimidating but its Neurobiology! What did you expect?
Recommendations? Spend a little bit of time with the material each day and go to Dr. Hua's office hours or make an appointment with her the moment you realize you don't understand a concept. Go see her even if you think you DO understand a concept. Knowledge in the class tends to build so missing what seems like a small idea may be disastrous in the long run. Dr. Hua uses PowerPoint slides during lecture and has handouts of her notes in outline form. I never found these to be too useful and rewrote these using supplementary information from any notes I took in class and from the textbook (which is quite horrible and I would recommend checking out the Kandel Neuro book for clarification on certain concepts). I also found reviewing for exams in a group to be very helpful.
And because I don't feel like writing a separate review, here's a little something about the lab in Neurobiology, also taught by Dr. Hua - fantastic! It's really really long and takes up an entire afternoon once a week but the length of the class actually made it more relaxed and she doesn't mind if you take small breaks here and there. It was one of the most fascinating lab courses I've ever taken. Microdissections, electrodes, crayfish! What could be better? The manual can definitely be improved and there are mostly full lab write ups (which take a long time) but I really enjoyed the class.

Workload:

Lecture: three exams and a final? Two exams and a final? I forget. Overall, a lot of work to study for them but they are fairly reasonable exams. Ask questions during the exam if anything is unclear because sometimes her English usage is questionable. The workload is therefore fairly self paced in terms of studying; there is reading but no problem sets.
Lab: FULL lab write ups (intro, materials, methods, etc) every week which are a lot of work but not so horrible and actually make you understand the experiment more.