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T. Kyle Mara

Dr. T. Kyle R. Mara

Associate Professor of Biology

Biology Department



Teaching Philosophy

I believe effective teaching is a dialog between students and their instructors.  A teacher, first and foremost, must capture the student’s interest while also encouraging them to be responsible for their own education.  The first step in accomplishing these goals is the preparation of lectures that convey the course material in a manner that reduces unnecessary complexity and highlights the most important concepts for students using real world examples.  However, even with a well-designed and executed lecture presentation, there are some topics that remain difficult for students to fully understand.



Comparative Anatomy

This course covers the anatomy of the vertebrates, emphasizing the comparative, functional and evolutionary aspects of these animals. The objective is to familiarize the student with the basics of vertebrate anatomy primarily, and diversity secondarily. The course has a strong functional approach, stressing the function in addition to the evolution of vertebrate organ systems. Initially we cover the evolution and diversity of the vertebrates. Then we take a “systemic” approach to the material, covering the skeletal, muscular, digestive, respiratory, circulatory, excretory, reproductive, and nervous systems, as well as sense organs. In addition, we cover basic histology of tissues.  This course is designed for undergraduates in biology or biomedical sciences, with a background in basic introductory biology. Because the anatomy of all vertebrates is so broad and diverse, we cover a relatively large amount of material in a short time period. To stress observation and understanding I use numerous anatomical illustrations during lecture.