Teaching Portfolio

Liana’s goal as a teacher is two-fold: 1) spark curiosity and excitement so that students can continue the learning process on your own; and 2) help students develop the communication skills and research tools needed to be professionals and citizens in the interdisciplinary, fast-paced world in which we live. I believe that focusing on the how and why of learning as opposed to the what is the best way for me to help you achieve success. Thus, I model learning as an iterative process in the structure of courses, focus on teaching broad-based skills and align assessment with this goal, use feedback to guide course development, and explain the rationale for course activities and goals. Through the use of these strategies, I endeavor to create the opportunity for learning, discovery, and self-reflection both inside and outside of the classroom.

AEPS 515: Professional Development for the Plant Sciences

Liana developed this practical and skills-focused course when she arrived at Penn State to meet the needs of the newly formed Applied and Environmental Plant Sciences Graduate Program, but the class also often serves Huck Plant Biology and Ecology Program students. She teaches it each fall at PSU.


  • Learn about and create an Individual Development Plan
  • Build (or further develop) a professional web presence
  • Increase science communication and visualization skills
  • Explore possible careers via in-class panels & informational interviews
  • Draft essential documents for future job applications
  • Gain comfort discussing Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion issues (3 hours of SARI credit)
  • Give and receive feedback on work in progress
Grantwriting Workshops for Graduate Students

For the past three years, Liana and Terry Bell, and now Jill Hamilton have offered workshop series designed to help graduate students develop grant writing and peer review skills. The most recent series offered in Spring 2022 supported 15 students as they developed USDA predoctoral grant proposals.

The Evolution and Ecology of Extreme Environments

As a fifth-year graduate student at Duke University, Liana had the opportunity via the BioBass teaching fellowship to design and teach my own upper-level seminar course. Because of my fascination with life cycle variation, I chose to develop a class all about the diversity of organismal adaptations to environmental variation! (Course Materials )

PLANT461: Emerging Issues in the Plant Sciences

Upon arriving at Penn State, Liana was tasked with developing a fall section of the senior capstone course for the Plant Science major. The small class size, discussion, and group project-based aspects of this course bring me right back to my liberal arts college roots. She teaches it each Fall at PSU.


  • broaden understanding of the range and complexity of emerging issues in the plant sciences
  • practice application of scientific, technical, and quantitative approaches to solve plant science problems in an ecological and agricultural context
  • increase ability to examine plant science issues through written, oral, and visual communication
  • critically evaluate and respect different viewpoints in decision making and in particular analyze ethical issues in plant science, ecosystem sustainability, and business practices
Lab Member Teaching Highlights
  • Ecology Graduate Student Jenn Harris TAed for ‘Gardening for Fun and Profit’
  • Plant Biology Graduate Student Lily Cherry TAed for Plant Propagation