course
Frontiers of Science

May 2021

Dr. Bega is an absolute sweetheart! She's the kind of erudite and caring teacher that makes you feel validated and energized by your college choice. She's passionate about the material, sets up her class in engaging manner, and is understanding & accommodating with student issues, especially during COVID-19 virtual instruction period. She was very welcoming in office hours. Switching into her discussion section of FroSci was one of the best decisions I made my freshman year!

May 2021

Dr. Rahilly is incredibly helpful as a Frontiers instructor. As a fairly disorganized person myself, her weekly emails reminding us of things due helped me immensely. In addition, she's very responsive to emails, grades quickly and fairly, and is quite knowledgeable about the material. I highly recommend being in her section!

Apr 2021

Debora is a PHENOMENAL seminar instructor. She is extremely approachable and ready to help out students. Albeit the ton of work that comes with FroSci, she is very accommodating with Zoom and understanding. Her office hours are incredibly helpful, and she would reply to emails in an appropriate timeframe. Like everything with Zoom, there were moments of awkwardness that come with the class, but that is mostly a result of the students and seminar environment. Debora did as much as she can to make the all too dismal semester feel engaging and exciting. She too was getting adjusted to the rigor and community of Columbia, but I believe she did a wonderful job!

Apr 2021

Debora is an extremely compassionate, joyful, and enthusiastic seminar instructor who wanted us to have a good FroSci experience and build a class community. Unfortunately, our class's excitement didn't seem to match hers. On her teaching-- Pros: - Class generally helped reinforce info and clarify topics - Very thorough feedback - Chances for homework corrections and extra credit - Sufficiently knowledgeable about all the content - Accessible and enthusiastically willing to help - Showed up pics of her cat! Cons: - Some in-class activities did not feel conducive to learning, at least partially due to zoom In general, I think she was strongest when directly teaching and weakest when facilitating activities. We tended to do some of both in each class.

Apr 2021

Dr. B is the reason I am passing FroSci. Not only is she the sweetest person and the most understanding, but she is also incredibly knowledgeable and she goes above and beyond to make sure that we get the most out of this class. Don't get me wrong––FroSci sucks––but that's part of its charm, and Dr. B makes it suck just a little bit less :) In terms of academic material and instruction: Dr. B is the kind of instructor who will stay in office hours until you understand the material (even if that means staying for an extra half-hour or more). She also has informative slides and lessons for sections and runs a pretty organized class. I think some of what the other review says about it being a little disorganized can be true for some units or section meetings, but it's not a trend for the semester as a whole, I promise. Dr. B is also unafraid to admit when she doesn't know something (albeit, this definitely isn't often, especially considering 3/4 of the course is not technically her field of research/study). Dr. B is generous and smart and I would DEFINITELY recommend staying in her section (if not for her, for her grading– she is incredibly understanding and very kind on homeworks and exams)

Mar 2021

Dr. Yip-Bannicq is one of the most well-spoken, intelligent professors I've had in the year I've been at Columbia. As another review said, she's also humble about topics she doesn't have as much experience in. She is very studied in the mind and brain unit (as that relates to her own professional experience), and she is excellent at explaining topics in other areas she said she used to be wary about when she was in school, such as physics. She is incredibly organized, kind, and understanding. She is a very fair grader as well. I learned just as much from her seminars as I did from the lectures, and she was amazing at clarifying when questions were asked. I definitely recommend her, especially for anyone who isn't STEM-oriented because she makes the information very accessible :)

Jan 2021

When I first read his other reviews I freaked out. I started taking the class and I was like dang ok, he's kinda crass but he's energetic and tries to engage you, not so bad. Then, I straight up failed the midterm, F+, class average was B+ and yet I still got an A in this class because I talked to him. I went to his office hours every week, had him read over the one writing assignment I did, triple freaking checked my weekly packet or whatever before I turned it in. Like all in all, it wasn't minimal effort (I actually had to try) but it wasn't too bad. If you show him that you're trying and that you care, if you actually form some semblance of a relationship with him you will be rewarded!! He was so impressed with my progress and hard work after I messed up that he has offered to write me letters of rec and keep me on his radar for lab work. Not the easiest section but you will get through it.

Dec 2020

one of the best professors. She is super nice and is always willing to help you with any questions you have. She also sends weekly emails of kind of like a to-do list, which is helpful if you like to stay organized. She is always engaging in class, and also offers a lot of extra credit opportunities. You will not regret being in her class!

Dec 2020

Kristen Rahilly is such a sweet professor. She is not only extremely organized and available to her students, but really tries her best to help students understand the material. Since Fro Sci is a mix of science fans and book worms, there's a range of ability and interest in the topics, but I think Professor Rahilly was able to bridge this gap. She is super understanding of different students' situations, unlike many other professors. If you have a suggestion she will truly listen and consider what you're saying, if you need help she'll do her best to explain the concepts in as simple a way as possible. She just wants everybody to understand the material and do well in the class.

Dec 2020

She is such a nice and sweet lady. She is so passionate about the subject and really tries to make the class as enjoyable as possible.

Dec 2020

Pretty neutral. Seminar was very boring but hard to blame someone involved in STEM for being unable to provide. Zoom was of course a factor. She was nice though.

Dec 2020

SWITCH OUT OF THIS SECTION. I doubt John will be asked back to teach this class in the future, given that our whole class destroyed him in the course eval process, but if he is SWITCH OUT. Where to even begin? John is incredibly disorganized. We never once did the activity we were supposed to do during our discussion section. We spent around 1 hour each class just listening to him monologue about whatever was on his mind. His life. His musings on education. His dislike of Frontiers of Science. Literally anything except for science. I am writing this review in class right now because I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that if I don't pay attention I won't miss anything. Once I took a full-on nap in the middle of class, woke up, and nothing had happened (Fall 2020 online semester). The second half of our classes were marginally more science-based, but never in a productive way. John is clearly a genius, but struggles to dumb down advanced concepts to a first-year level. He mostly teaches grad students, and doesn't seem to grasp that a lot of us need help just learning how to read graphs. We're not ready to spend a full 30 minutes deriving the gamma factor. He would often bring in his graduate-level slides and substitute the regular FroSci slides for his own, which just confused us to no end. We never got a chance to do some of the basic activities and reinforcing exercises that would have helped us on the exams. Also, John took forever to get work back to us. It's the last day of class, and we still haven't gotten back some of the work we did in September. This meant that while everyone in other sections got detailed feedback on their problem sets in the run-up to the midterm, we didn't get a single problem set returned until like 48 hours before. Every other class also had access to the answer keys, but John didn't know he could give that to us until someone told him a few days before the midterm. To his credit, John is a lovely person. He clearly cares about his students and wants them to do well. But that care is so misplaced. He is also super responsive to email which is nice. But that is nowhere near enough to make up for everything else.

Dec 2020

Really nice professor! Moderate workload.

Dec 2020

Dr. Bilgin is an incrediblyyy sweet person, however, it was a little frustrating being in her discussion section sometimes. The seminars felt disorganized, and a lot of the time we didn't actually focus on course material and instead did random activities (which are helpful to some people but not really my style of learning). She also had a hard time answering questions about both the course concepts/content and about more technical things like grades. This made group office hours kinda pointless and by the end of the semester I gave up asking questions because the answers were never clear lol. She was good with email responses and emailing us about weekly assignments, plus very understanding about circumstances if we needed an extension for any reason. This course and seminar reminded me more of high school learning than an introductory science college course. The topics were often interesting, I just don't like how so much busywork was structured around each topic. If you're wondering whether you should switch out, it's really not that big of a deal. I got through the class just fine even though it was kinda annoying sometimes, but if you can switch out I would. Also no hate on Dr. Bilgin! She made a good effort to accommodate online learning and again was super sweet. Just wasn't my style.

Dec 2020

She's amazing! Her office hours are so helpful and you can tell she really cares about her students (i.e if you can't make her office hours she'll happily schedule a 1 on 1 meeting with you some other time). She's extremely knowledgeable and will answer all your questions during class. The seminars are also very organized and productive. Would highly recommend it!

Nov 2020

Dr. Karni-Schmidt is the kindest professor I have ever had. She is very attentive and will work with you should you need help. Her classes are usually interesting, with her changing up the format from week to week, sometimes conducting a debate, holding a kahoot, utilizing small group assignments, and presenting small review presentations for especially complex material.

Sep 2020

She's chill. Frosci is a very easy class so I don't think the professor matters too much. Ivana was nice to talk to. She did make us pay attention for the entire 2 hour discussion section every week without a break, which would get old pretty fast.

Sep 2020

Extremely kind -- super helpful in office hours. Very knowledgeable and helpful. I personally didn't love FroSci, but she was a really great professor.

Sep 2020

She's nice but kind of irritating. I feel like she kind of treated us like babies, and we had to do a bunch of stuff that seemed pretty unnecessary (hard to tell how much of this was her and how much of this was required for sci BS). She was a pretty straightforward grader and there were so many extra credit opportunities (though I took her during spring 2020 so who knows what I would have got at the end). She was also pretty helpful during office hours. Overall, totally not the end of the world if you get her, but there may also be better options.

Aug 2020

My previous review was not uploaded I guess, so I'm rewriting it to save future freshmen from a semester of monotonous hell. This class was the most boring class I had ever taken at Columbia, I kid you not. And I do not like writing bad reviews, but this one had to be written. Ellen herself, I'm sorry Dr. Ellen as she prefers to be called as she stems from a line of women doctors (a statement she will tell you herself), is not a particularly awful person. She's just incredibly irritating and an unnecessarily harsh grader. She will treat you like a child, and not in the kind professor type of way, but instead talking to you in this high-pitched strain intended to build enthusiasm. Instead, it will make you question how Columbia can be such a great institution but have such awful professors. Our class was dull it was evident that everyone hated being there. Ellen had harsher deadlines for the homework than other professors and would frequently spring worksheets and assignments on you during class with a limited time frame to finish them. I actually enjoyed many of the lectures and concepts taught during them, but somehow she made them all become awful in her discussion section. Also, she's known for grading harshly on exams by people who aren't even in her section. My advice is to save yourself the trouble and find a professor who is easy-going and will make FoS bearable. Good luck.

Jul 2020

Run. She's not a bad person per se, but for some reason, she's extremely and utterly irritating. She treats us like we're five and in kindergarten. The workload is like any other Frosci class, but she'll spring worksheets on you in class and have them due in a short timeframe. She's also known to be a harsh grader and will ask for the most on your homework and exams. Save yourself the stress and constant dread of attending her class by switching to a different section. It's a core class and she makes it harder than it needs to be.

Jun 2020

i gotta agree with the reviews below. caleb scharf is the goat. he lets you turn in assignments late, grades everything based on completion, and recaps everything you need to know for each week's hw and the exams during his seminars. in exchange for how nice he is, he does require you to do an extra credit portfolio as part of your grade, but minimal effort on that pretty much guarantees you an A. if you get this guy, don't switch out of his class. if you're reading this to see whose fro sci seminar to switch to, begs on your hands and knees that Caleb has an open spot in his seminar.

May 2020

Dr. Bega is very sweet and kind! She teaches with lots of passion and is always willing to help during office hours. You're definitely lucky if you are enrolled in Dr. Bega's frosci seminar! The class itself has a very low-workload and everything is graded for completion other than the midterm and final of course. If you stay up to speed with the content and study well for both exams, I think you can expect around an A-

May 2020

Caleb Scharf is a GODSEND for Frosci and if you get him do NOT let him go. Even before the pandemic he was incredibly kind and made everything completion grade. He really doesn’t have a problem with turning stuff in late as long as you are not abusing it. His lectures can be a little boring, but he recaps everything you need to know to do the homework and the topics you need for the exam. The midterm was not that easy, but keep in mind that we were all just forced to leave campus so many of us were struggling. The final seemed to be a lot easier. During the pandemic he was super understanding and as long as you tried to get work done you couldn’t fail. He also is a really knowledgeable astrobiologist and was always willing to answer questions about his research and the department. The homeworks can be a little long and the course material a bit dense, so try to start early. He also has you do a portfolio where you have to accumulate a certain amount of points by doing stuff like writing about spotlight guest lectures, making how-to YouTube videos, writing discussion questions, and a whole bunch of other options

May 2020

Very nice, knowledgeable (I think his specialization is astronomy/astrophysics), and accommodating. Wants students to succeed and is very chill in general. Highly recommend him if you want a relaxed Fro Sci experience but still learn some cool stuff.

May 2020

Glad I read the reviews and decided to switch to his seminar class. Super nice guy, quick to respond to emails, understands how fro sci might be weird to grasp and tries to make the process easier and more fun. He gives a review of the lecture during seminar, gives us time to work on the homework in class, answers questions, and sometimes organizes us to do some fro-sci related fun activities. The interruption by the whole coronavirus situation was not great, but Caleb did his best to keep everyone updated and provided consistent help. I have in a different time zone 12 hours ahead of EST, so I really really appreciated the fact that Caleb recorded all seminars, offered OHs to accommodate different time zones, and organized fun/insightful discussions on Piazza. Great seminar instructor.

May 2020

You should be SO HAPPY if you get assigned Dr. Karni-Schmidt as your FroSci instructor. Dr. Karni Schmidt is so attentive to her students, and as the previous reviewer mentioned, never wants us to feel stressed. She really works hard to ensure we understand all her concepts through presentations/office hours/HW corrections. We went on a trip to the American Museum of Natural History and she bought us all shake shack after – so sweet of her!

Apr 2020

I have such mixed feelings about Dr. Ellen. Her section classes were great and she prepared us extremely well for exams. However, she also gave us much more work and graded much more strictly than average seminar teachers do. So, unless you want to be challenged, I would avoid her. An example: homework was due a few days earlier for her than for most of my peers' teachers, and it was not graded by completion. She also requires you to correct all your homework after she grades it, the corrections also being graded. It's not impossible to get a good grade with her. There are ample extra credit opportunities and some things are graded for completion. Overall, this makes her class worthwhile and effective. It is just not easy if you're not scientifically- and mathematically-apt and not interested in making this class your #1 focus.

Apr 2020

Really lovely and makes FroSci content which is really boring much more interesting. Really cares about students and has been doing it a long time. Often brings sweet and she is universally loved. Would really recommend!

Jan 2020

Social psychologist teaching FroSci seminars. Very kind professor who cares deeply about her students and wants them to succeed. Extremely easy grader, lovely and exciting to talk to. Knowledgeable to a degree about all FroSci topics, humble about her expertise in fields other than her own. Highly recommend.

Dec 2019

A really nice guy!! Entertaining and energetic. Lots of people complained about his grading, but it’s honestly very effort-based, as long as you write a lot you’ll do fine. Bases his discussions on what we’re having trouble with, which is nice, and he’s knowledgeable and helpful. Go to the midterm/final reviews, they’re really helpful. They curve FroSci grades at the end to try to make the different discussion teachers’ grading equal, so don’t worry if you’re not doing too good, your grade will almost certainly rise.

Dec 2019

AZADEH IS THE ONLY REASON WHY I SET MY ALARM AT 9:55 ON A WEDNESDAY MORNING AND WAKE UP EARLY TO GO TO THE FRONTIERS OF SCIENCE DISCUSSION SECTION RATHER THAN NOT SHOW UP AND FAIL THE COURSE. SHE LOOKS VERY SIMILAR TO A MINION IN THE DESPICABLE ME MOVIE AND SHE SOUNDS LIKE ONE TOO, in a good way. THIS COMPARISON IS FITTING AS IT SUMS UP HER SWEET AND CHARISMATIC PERSONALITY. SHE IS TRULY ONE OF A KIND.

Dec 2019

Sandor is really sweet and willing to help you out during office hours if you don't understand the content. I didn't do too well in the class, but still ended up with an A so I think she's on the easier side of grading. We did have to do lecture reflections at the beginning of each class, which most profs don't have you do, but they took up 5 minutes and not much thought at all. Would definitely recommend

Nov 2019

Adam Brown is a steal. He is extremely helpful and wants everyone in his class to succeed. His dog, which he brings in time to time, is also a very cute and sweet presence. He's a little picky with grading homeworks, but once you know what he's looking for it's moderately easy.

Nov 2019

Dr. Karni-Schmidt is the sweetest person I've ever met! She told us on the first day that she gets butterflies every year because she's so excited to meet us. That joy for teaching us did not waver a bit by the end of the semester. Additionally, she is very well-being focused. She is very aware that her class isn't the only class you have, and that it isn't at the top of most people's priorities, either because they aren't studying science, or because they are, and FroSci is remedial to them. It is a primary concern of hers that she does not add stress to the Columbia workload, which she does a very good job of, given that she grades for completion and effort, and strongly emphasizes the value of really thinking about the content rather than just trying to get at A. In my opinion, given my experience as an art major who was poorly educated about science, her lax grading policy really fosters that thoughtfulness if you care to put the time in, which is wonderful for understanding the content long-term. I've never been stressed about her class, but instead have found it to be a pleasant change of pace from my other classes. Because of her kind, empathetic nature and absolute dedication to ensuring that step-by-step, we are following her, I feel like I have the room to experiment with my learning and learn really well. Also she throws us pizza/movie nights with really yummy baked goods which is the most wholesome thing ever. :)

Nov 2019

Dr Sandor is really nice, but not an easy grader. She is a genuinely caring person who wants you to feel comfortable and tries to prepare you well for the exams, but to be honest her grading can be unfair compared to other seminar profs. I'd say the grading from her is much harsher than for most other sections. She's also strict about deadlines unlike some other seminar profs who grant extensions on homework. She also does "lecture reflections" each class which is different than other Fro Sci seminars. But she is really nice as a person and cares. Basically, if you're already great at science and know how to do each problem without an issue, you'll be really happy with her. Otherwise, I'd try to switch to a different prof for seminar if possible because other profs are easier graders.

Nov 2019

Dr. Keivani is the sweetest professor I've ever had at CU. She really cares about making sure you know the material and understand all that goes on. She understands that frosci is usually a course people dread so she tries her best to make sure it goes as well as possible. She helps with homeworks during office hours, will go over every single detail with you, doesn't rush, and is all in all an absolute gem. To be honest we don't really deserve her. She's not a difficult grader, she's a caring professor that is willing to listen to you and change her classes based off of our needs. Would absolutely recommend to take for FroSci and any other class.

May 2019

Amazing person and professor! All my friends seem to dislike FroSci; and while I am not a science person, I differ because Dr. Bega is instrumental in transforming a possibly boring class into one that I look forward to every week. The majority of the class LOVES her, especially her bubbly personality, extreme humility and fun character to be around. Discussion instructors almost decide your FroSci experience--Dr. Bega is definitely worthy of the recommendation.

Apr 2019

Amazing teacher. Plans great seminars and is always available to help in office hours. Homework is graded on completion and it is not hard to get a good grade.

Jan 2019

She was the most passionate, caring, and enthusiastic teacher I've ever had in all of my years in school. She put her all into the class, set aside a significant of time to meet with the students in my class despite her other large responsibilities to her research and the frontiers of science program as a whole. Never been a naturally STEM inclined person myself, she made me interested and feel confident in the topics that we covered and gave me a newfound interest in scientific research. One of the kindest, most intelligent, and all around skilled educator I've ever encountered.

Dec 2018

Idk what was going on in 2014, but Logan is a pretty good professor. I had her for Frontiers of Science this semester. While the course itself isn't great, I would say Logan is a nice Seminar teacher. She grades really quickly and gives good feedback, is extremely organized, and has helpful review slides/packets that supplement the lectures which don't teach you anything. I feel like she's a bit harder of a grader than other Seminar teachers, but oh well. She's a nice person.

Dec 2018

Idk what was going on in 2014, but Logan is a pretty good professor. I had her for Frontiers of Science this semester. While the course itself isn't great, I would say Logan is a nice Seminar teacher. She grades really quickly and gives good feedback, is extremely organized, and has helpful review slides/packets that supplement the lectures which don't teach you anything. I feel like she's a bit harder of a grader than other Seminar teachers, but oh well. She's a nice person.

Dec 2018

Idk what was going on in 2014, but Logan is a pretty good professor. I had her for Frontiers of Science this semester. While the course itself isn't great, I would say Logan is a nice Seminar teacher. She grades really quickly and gives good feedback, is extremely organized, and has helpful review slides/packets that supplement the lectures which don't teach you anything. I feel like she's a bit harder of a grader than other Seminar teachers, but oh well. She's a nice person.

Dec 2018

This class is literally GPA suicide. Don’t expect an easy A. He is a good instructor but grades harshly. The homeworks are not graded based on completion but rather heavily on accuracy and they are extremely time consuming. My friends in other sections had a much easier time. He is a good instructor and you will learn but you will have to put in a ton of work to receive an A, in my opinion more work than is normally dedicated to a typical core class.

Jun 2018

Oh my god, oh my god, don't take his class. Don't get me wrong, Prof. Routh is a cool guy and I'd love to get beers and talk physics with him sometime. But this FroSci section is a total waste of time. You do absolutely nothing productive in class and have to spend the entire time doing inane activities while Routh awkwardly walks around monitoring. Routh is also totally useless at explaining concepts — ask him a question and he'll either misunderstand it and talk for ten minutes about something irrelevant or understand but struggle to form a coherent answer. Science people were constantly bored; humanities people were constantly confused. He doesn't offer breaks in class and really boring group presentations, in which no one else participates, are mandatory. The only plus is that homework is only graded for completion. But seriously, switch out if you can, which isn't to say you shouldn't take a higher-level class with him if you're a sciences major. The guy is obviously brilliant in his particular field, which is why he shouldn't be teaching this intro survey course.

Apr 2018

What can be said about Dr. Hughes that hasn't already been said in previous reviews? I came into FroSci my freshman year as the most reluctant humanities major and dreaded the thought of having to take this course. To put it simply, Ivana Hughes made FroSci bearable and at times, enjoyable. Her passion for all things science and for FroSci itself is practically contagious and it's evident in every aspect of her teaching. She pores her enthusiasm into everything and dedicates her time and energy to ensuring that each of her students succeeds in her class. If you're lucky enough to get placed in her section, know that you're in capable hands and take advantage of all the resources she has to offer. Go to her office hours, reviews session, and yes - her legendary movie nights hosted in her apartment each semester.

Jan 2018

She is the best teacher ever. She is truly passionate about FoS and cares about individual student. She is very clear in her classes and generous with extra time because she understands what it's like to be university student. She invited the whole class over to her house for dessert multiple times and even watched Interstellar together. She gives plenty of extra credit opportunities and gives extremely good feedback on homeworks. The midterm and final are the same for all FoS students and I would say that she is a generous grader (although I believe each class has its own curve). I thought I did absolutely terrible on the midterm which was quite hard (she admitted this year's midterm was the most difficult) and I still ended up with an A. She went over the midterm with me one on one and by the way I saw how she graded, she definitely did not penalize me hard for any wrong answers. She tries to find opportunity award you points, not take them away. She also sat with me one on one multiple times to work on the term paper and answered all my emails quickly--even over Thanksgiving break. I give her 20/10 and is one of very few professors here who I wish to develop a lasting relationship with.

Jan 2018

Love her! FroSci is a terrible class, but Dr. Cook definitely made it bearable. She has a background in astrophysics and works at the Museum of Natural History, which is super cool. She was really nice and personable, and wanted to get to know her students. I kind of feel bad she got stuck/chose to teach FroSci because she deserves better lol. Fair grader (not easy but not harsh), and homework was graded on completion and effort. Assignments with bad grades could be changed to a good grade by visiting office hours. Extra credit opportunities via attending lectures or science-related events. She brought us donuts a couple times and held a final study break with catered indian food (!!!).

Jan 2018

Despite the generally poor opinion students have of FroSci (shared by this reviewer), I felt that Dr. Cristofari was a very good professor. He was always quite enthusiastic and friendly in seminar, which gave some energy to what might otherwise have been the most boring part of my week. While reviewing the material from lecture, he was always knowledgeable (his background is in astrophysics, so if that is covered in the FroSci lectures and is something you expect might confuse you, I would recommend his section). He even basically wrote out an entire study guide for all of the lectures on the board for us in preparation for the midterm. As well, Dr. Cristofari is VERY generous with the portion of the grade made up of seminar attendance/participation. I think in the end he gave almost everyone in my section 100s for it (bearing in mind that everyone did go to 1 or 2 of the short extra credit presentations made available throughout the semester). All in all, I wouldn't ever expect that much from FroSci, but being in this particular class did give me a generally positive experience with it.

Dec 2017

He really tries but GOOD LORD HE IS BAD. He does not have a great grasp on the Climate or Biodiversity and in discussion will say things that are objectively wrong. He also assigns so much extra work it's not even funny. SWITCH OUT IF YOU HAVE HIM ASAP!

Dec 2017

Quite simply the nicest professor I have had so far. Besides being a brilliant and incredibly knowledgable person, she is so warm and welcoming that I felt more like an advisee than a student in her class. She welcomed us into her home, told us stories about her children, and made her self available for help or just to talk about how the semester was going. Professor Hughes clearly wants all of her students to succeed. She gives many extra credit opportunities and meets with every student to go over the midterm. She made the class very enjoyable, and I definitely recommend taking it with her if you can!

Dec 2017

Dr. Cook rocks! If you have her as your seminar leader - do NOT switch out! Besides being the sweetest person ever, she's an amazing astrophysicist; she genuinely wants you to do well in FroSci and really listens to her students' opinions. She presents concepts in a clear and dynamic manner, and she's obviously super passionate/enthusiastic about class and science!

Nov 2017

Even though it's only my first semester at Columbia, Tammo easily made this my most enjoyable class. Really chill, laid back type of professor who's easy to talk to and makes you enjoy even the boring subjects. 10/10 would recommend.

Sep 2017

As a section leader, Pierre was very engaging. He is knowledgeable in physics in particular, but other fields as well. He is French, and has an accent which can be easily understood. His grading was fair, and office hours were helpful and he seemed to genuinely want to help students succeed.

Apr 2017

Overall a good discussion leader to have for fro sci! Thank god, actually. That class was unbearable. Eric's very friendly and will literally guide you through the homeworks in his office hours to make sure you get the right answers. He clearly cares about his students and the course material. At times, the class activities were a bit dumb and a waste of time, but I assume that's how it was for every section. The only unique thing about this section is an extra essay you have to write about a topic of your own choice. It's not really a big deal, though. As long as you do your research, the essay is mostly just summarizing what you've found. After collecting all my online research, I wrote the essay drunk the night before and got a 100. What a great professor.

Jan 2017

Dr. Hughes is an absolutely amazing person! She is so enthusiastic about science, Frontiers of Science, and all of her students. Her passion makes Frontiers an engaging, interesting course. She is extremely knowledgeable and can answer almost any question you might have and always makes time to find out the answer if she doesn't know if off-hand. Over the course of the semester, she had several movie/dessert nights at her apartment! She is really nice, really smart, and really passionate. In short, if you have Dr. Hughes, do not switch out because she is amazing!

Nov 2016

While FroSci may not be the most interesting class, Dr. Hughes is the nicest lady. If you get her for FroSci, stay in the section. She grades homeworks on completion - so even if you get things wrong, you're not going to get points off as long as you've tried and have written something. She genuinely cares about her students and wants them to do well. She grades the midterms pretty seriously, though, but she reviews it with you and will give you points back (she said, "wow I was a little mean with that one, here are a few points back"). She gives extra credit if you go to the Science Spotlight lectures and just wants to see that her students are interested in science. She also invited our class over to her apartment a couple of times for dessert and a movie. If you get her, keep her! She's wonderful!

May 2016

Rejoice if you have him for FroSci because he is the man. Out of all the FroSci teachers, he may very well be the most chill, and thats saying a lot because a lot of them are pretty chill. He's honestly just a really nice guy, and his grading is really easy: he gives you 100% on participation, homework, and attendance as long as you actually do your homework and come to class most of the time. He also grades the midterm and exam pretty easy. He's gives very good answers to any questions, and if you are having trouble in the course you can go to his office hours and he makes sure you understand the concepts. Even if he doesn't know the physics part of the course that well, he always makes sure your questions get answered no matter what. He also teaches to the exam, which in FroSci is kind of what you want. He tells you all of the homework questions that are relevant to the exam and doesn't waste time on concepts that don't matter. One of the nicest guys who has taught me at Columbia, and he makes the activities fun because he wants everyone to have a good time in class.

Apr 2016

I loved being in Monica's class because she genuinely cares about all her students and really wants them to do well. I think the other review is completely incorrect because Prof. Rouco was very knowledgable about EVERY topic we covered and was always willing to help.

Aug 2015

Dr. Bega is absolutely amazing. She is such a sweetheart, and is always extremely excited about the material (as mentioned by other reviews, especially in regards to the astrophysics section - her specialty). Though the nature of a 2-hour FroSci discussion leaves you dreading going to class, Dr. Bega tries her best to engage everyone in the material. She's possibly one of the happiest people I have ever met, and also one of the kindest, and most intelligent. When you ask her questions, she really knows what she's talking about, all the while understanding that most kids don't really enjoy the lecture. She also basically gives you all of the information you would ever need to know for any FroSci exam, and she is suuuuuper lenient on assignments. The only pain was that instead of the homework being due on Fridays (like everyone else's), it was due on Thursday. Eventually that got to be nice because then while everyone was struggling to finish their FroSci homework before they went out (or while they were already half-drunk), mine was already done and out of my hair.

Jul 2015

Dr. Bartos is basically all kinds of nice. Did his best to be helpful, was friendly, approachable, certainly not the type to yell or call you out. I dozed off a few times in his seminar and I felt so terrible about it, and he was probably secretly judging me on the inside, but he never said a word about it. It must be so terrible for a genius like him to teach a course as basic as FroSci. I mean I liked FroSci for being a class I could relax in, but it was so terribly boring. Seminar sessions would get so painfully awkward because only one person would really participate, and she was basically participating out of pity. He's not going to make your life difficult, and he's probably as good of a FroSci instructor you could get.

Jul 2015

You already know this lady is going to be the highlight of your FroSci life when on the first day, you see a happy woman with pink hair streaks. And then she assures your impressions by telling you all about her life and enthusiastically asking about yours. I love Dr. Smith. She made it an effort to make The Archive, which is like a free science bank that you and your seminar gets to share. Sure, it's extra work but it's really not that much. If you already love science, just tell the class about your research. If you are more on the humanities side, just pick anything you like that is remotely science-related. Without The Archive, I'd dread staying for a whole hour and 50 minutes in FroSci because of the content, but this archive helped relieve boredom. She may be a little hard to hear, especially when you have her towards the afternoon, and all you want to do is go to JohnJay or Ferris to eat. Grading kinda sucks when too lenient (but a plus if you have heavy workload) but having an extremely lenient grader takes away motivation to do well on hw and encourages you to just do "you." Every midterm and final has a jeopardy which you should totally go to even if you can have it online. It'll help pick which ideas to emphasize on cheat sheet and all. Definitely go to her office hours. ABSOLUTELY GO. Even for once, she will remember everything you tell her.

May 2015

Pretty bad professor. Try to switch sections if you end up with her. You probably know more about this course than she does.

Apr 2015

Incredible! I'm not a science person really and she made the class so approachable. She grades easily, simply the check/check plus/check minus system and I don't know anyone who has gotten a check minus. She has both a liberal arts and science background, so she understands the array of interests and understandings of science you'll all have. She's kinda strict about attendance but just make sure to communicate with her. Overall, so lucky to have been assigned her.

Feb 2015

Dr. Carr is one of the best professors I've had at Columbia. Yes, I had her for Frontiers of Science, but let me tell you: she made this class something I actually looked forward to going to. She is one of the sweetest, kindest, and most caring individuals I've met in academia. She really cares about her students and gives her all to ensure that her students are engaged, learning, and content. FoS was probably one of the worst courses ever, but if you had Dr. Carr, you'll know that she is the best. She's a teacher that just wants you to be happy as a student, regardless of whether or not you're actually passionate about the subject matter at hand. That being said, she really tries to find ways to incorporate interesting facts, scientific findings, etc. into her seminars so that concepts make sense and the material doesn't feel vanilla and superfluous. If you're in her class, you're lucky. If you're not and you're trying to be now, you're welcome. Amber Carr is a super approachable person and she is such an interesting and awesome person. Her office hours were always super helpful and I personally went every week, some weeks to actually get help and some weeks to just turn in my homework and talk to her and have nice conversations. She is a wonderful person and professor, and she deserves the highest accolades, honestly. If you're lucky to have her, make the most out of this class whether it's the class itself or the superstar who teaches it!

Feb 2015

Dr. Merchant, despite her best efforts to the contrary, is one of the most bewilderingly inept and boring teachers (if she can even be called that) to grace this university. She is totally oblivious to the potential for banality of the Frontiers of Science curriculum, and does her best to drag students down mentally and quash any interest they might begin to develop. In addition to the weekly FroSci homework assignment, she requires an additional piece of homework every week, which is normally a pointless writeup on the reading for that week. In addition, she holds regular quizzes and her section activities are truly truly awful. She doesn't display any motivation to make the course interesting, and often appears to simply be going through the motions. Don't make the mistake of not trying to switch out of her section - a semester with her is a truly horrendous 'educational' (if it can be called that...) experience.

Jan 2015

Dr. Lloyd is a really, really kind person. I would say that if you have to take FroSci, he really tried to make it as painless as possible. He was a delightful teacher and generous grader who was genuinely interested in teaching the course well and frequently asked our class for feedback on how he was doing. None of this is to imply that I enjoyed the class--I think there were some people in my course who took it way too seriously, but personally I felt all the usual complaints with the course load (the material was rushed, explained only at the surface level, the seminar dragged on at nearly 2 hours). I would say that, shockingly, there are a few units from FroSci that I really do remember and feel that I can say I got something out of. I would attribute this to Dr. Lloyd's patience and kindness, and also the fact that I attended office hours at least once a month to make sure that I got solid marks on the homework. Some other sections had weekly writing or monthly assignments, but the only real project we did was to write a scientific abstract and present a poster project at the end of the course. Not completely time consuming and terrible! Dr. Lloyd also offers a ton of extra credit opportunities. I am not a math/science person at all and I'm ashamed to say that FroSci was not as easy-breezy for me as it was for some of my classmates, but I finished up with an A nonetheless. Definitely stay in his section if that's where you were assigned.

Jan 2015

Dr. Elliott is super nice, generous, and always tries her best to help out her students. She's very helpful during office hours and always sits down with you to patiently work out your questions. I would also say she's a pretty lenient grader. I really enjoyed my individual, one-on-one interactions with her. That being said, I came out of the discussion sections usually feeling bored, confused, or frustrated. Dr. Elliott is not the most riveting lecturer, her voice bordering on monotonous, and I would often find myself zoning out or falling asleep. She is quite a reticent person, and that made it look like she lacked confidence in herself and the material she was presenting (except for the neuroscience unit, which is her area of specialty). I don't think she actually didn't know what she was talking about because she does seem quite smart, but her hesitance definitely did not clarify which information we needed to know most and encouraged an awkwardly silent atmosphere. Then she would halfheartedly call on people to participate, which led to even more halfhearted responses from the students. Sometimes it could get pretty miserable. I feel bad talking shit about her because I could tell she was trying her best to make the class worth our time, and I really appreciate the fact that she brought us bagels for breakfast on the last day of class. Clearly she cares about her students and wants to see them succeed. However, I would advise you to switch sections if you get placed into her class. There are many other frosci instructors who will make your discussion sections much more interesting and still be helpful outside of class.

Jan 2015

It's no secret that students with a strong interest in science find FroSci to be extremely... manageable. One thing I'll say is that the lecturers usually are very competent, and if you have any actual questions about anything related to their fields, going to their office hours will usually be a fruitful experience, although you might have to wait in line as other students ask questions pertaining to the lecture material. I wouldn't say that I learned nothing interesting in Fro Sci, but learning definitely isn't required to do well in the class, and all interesting material will be repeated many times (so don't worry about missing it the first time around). If you ever want to take 6 classes, definitely do it while you're taking Fro Sci, as it shouldn't take up too much of your time.

Dec 2014

If you have Dr. Hughes, DO YOUR BEST TO NOT SWITCH OUT. U R SO LUCKY. FOREAL. Ok but actually, Dr. Hughes is so awesome and incredible intelligent and so cute and every time I see her I just wanna hug her for being so amazing. She's an amazing teacher and teaches so well and explains the lectures really well. Also, NO QUIZZES! YA!!!! So while all your friends are freakin' about those 15 point frosci quizzes you can be chillen like "yo, Dr. Hughes doesn't give quizzes and I'm prob learning more than you!" She's insanely smart and can answer LITERALLY any question you have. AND at the end of the term she invites her classes to her apartment for dessert and term paper discussions (ok seriously how cute is she?)

Dec 2014

Dr. Elliot was my seminar leader for FroSci, and I really enjoyed her class! She did a really good job of covering all the material efficiently and making sure we understood everything covered in lecture. She was very personable, a reasonable grader and available for office hours and other meetings.

Dec 2014

While I personally did not appreciate the general concept of Frontiers of Science as a class, Eric made the discussion portion bearable and even interesting at times. Eric usually plans lessons that are directly related to the lecture material, and prepares PowerPoints to present the information. We often worked in small groups to complete small activities/worksheets related to the class material. I appreciated that Eric was clearly passionate about the course material, very approachable and available for office hours, and fairly flexible in terms of handing in late work (for the weekly homework assignments).

Dec 2014

Dr Carr is great! You can tell she genuinely enjoys teaching, cares about her students, and wants them to do well. Her seminar slides are so much clearer than the lecture slides, and it helps that they're organized according to key questions. She uploads them punctually every week, and I suggest looking over them just to see if you missed anything, and especially when you're making your cheat sheet. I also suggest going to office hours, even if you don't have any questions about the course material itself. I only started going towards the end of the semester, and wish I'd done it earlier. You can always talk to her about her research (some computational chemistry thing, which is actually pretty damn cool). Seminar itself wasn't super exciting, although I think that's less her fault than the fact that most of the activities we had to do because whoever came up with the syllabus decided we had to were kind of meh in the first place. On the bright side, Dr Carr is nice and funny and interesting, which makes boring activities more bearable. You also get the impression that she really knows her shit. If neither of those appeals to you, seminar often ends (up to half an hour) early. We had a quiz for each unit, which I found annoying at first, but it turned out that they weren't hard, and Dr Carr is very generous with partial credit. I skimmed the notes briefly just before every quiz and did fine. The quizzes do count in a tiny portion of your grade, but if you mess up on one she lets you earn extra credit to make it up. On hindsight, it was kind of nice to have a checkpoint for the unit, mainly because I am super lazy when it comes to consolidating my work, or maybe just for FroSci in general. She also holds a review session before each exam, but if you can't make it she puts the slides, practice questions and a study guide on Courseworks. All in all, I felt she really prepared us well for the exams. There's also a term paper, but nothing to worry too much about. She's a pretty easy grader. Also, she gave us deadlines for the first draft and peer review, so you definitely won't be cranking it out from scratch the day of final submission - which will be around the annoying time at the end of the semester when everything is due. Trust me, you will be very grateful.

Dec 2014

Congratulations!! You were randomly placed into one of Professor Carr's Frontiers of Science discussion section. Unlike many other Columbia students, you will not come out of Frontiers hating it or feeling like you have got nothing out of it. Professor Carr is a great professor who truly cares about teaching her students. Her discussions are fantastic and she will make sure you all the important points that the lecturers made. She has office hours set up and she is always there and willing to help you. She frequently stays after office hours helping students though I would recommend that you actually get to her office before her office hours end. Although discussion is great, Professor Carr does a great job explaining the material during office hours. Besides her obvious teaching strengths, she is an extremely nice professor who truly wants to help all her students (besides teaching, she has offered to give us advice on how to get a research position as undergraduates). She does really interesting research and has other experiences that you should talk to her about during office hours (she actually was invited to the UN during one weekend when I was taking her class). Overall, she is a great professor and I wish Frontiers of Science was a year long class because of her.

Sep 2014

Professor Bega is phenomenal! I went into the class doubtful of what new knowledge it could possibly bring to me as a student already majoring in a science. While the Big lectures were...ok, Kledja's enthusiasm in the seminar made me really enjoy this mandatory class. In particular, the Physics portion of the class is when she really becomes animated. If you are lucky enough to have her, you may find yourself enjoying this class more than you thought you would.

Aug 2014

He is extremely nice, but class was very boring. I could barley keep my eyes open even when i had gotten 9-10 hours of sleep the night before. His grading on the homework is pretty harsh. He uses a check minus, check and check plus system and its basically like impossible to get a check plus. out of the like 10 homeworks you'll probably get 1 or 2 check plus' but if you make more than 3 mistakes on the homework you get a check minus. His grading on the midterm is also pretty sure, it seems like he didn't believe in partial credit, so I did pretty poorly on it. You should try to go to his office hours because he is somewhat helpful on the homework but mostly it's important for him to see that you are trying. I did better than I thought I would in the class, so I think he is considerate when giving final grades.

Jun 2014

This review will really just be preaching to the choir, but Professor Hughes is so incredible that I'm going to write it anyway. Professor Hughes made FroSci from what could have been a boring waste of time to a fun, stimulating class that I enjoyed going to each week. Her enthusiasm is completely without bounds. She lives to teach this material and teaches even the most rote and boring pieces of it like they're jewels of wisdom and she manages to get you to believe that they are. Her most common phrase is probably "Isn't that so cool!" She loves each of her students like one of her kids (whom she shows off on her computer and uses in examples pretty frequently) and honestly wants each of us to stay in touch after the semester. She gives endless opportunities to get extra credit, grades homeworks only for completion (she corrects it and grades on a scale of "good" through "amazing!"), and gives up her own time to give lengthy review sessions before exams. Whether this attitude actually effects students' performance on exams is debatable (she shows the class data after the midterm during a private conference and it fell in a perfect bell curve), but it certainly makes it enjoyable. I've heard such terrible things about other section leaders that I'm convinced I hit the jackpot, and the gold nugget shows I'm not alone. My only regret is that she doesn't have a lab so I can't apply for a research job with her! Seriously, if you see an opening during a registration appointment for one of her sections (unlikely), jump on it, as it won't last long and if you miss it you will regret it.

May 2014

Professor Williams, or Mike as everyone calls him, is a great seminar leader. Most kids hated FroSci, but I didn't actually enjoyed the class and he had a lot to do with it. The classes are pretty standard: he goes over lecture, does whatever activity he has to, asks if we have any questions, and usually let us go a little early if there isn't much to discuss. He has a good sense of humor, and tries to make the lecture material seem as interesting as possible. As a physics professor, his reviews were a little stronger for the first two sections of FroSci, but he does a good job on the other sections too. Basically, I thought seminar was actually kind of fun, and all of my friends couldn't stop bitching about theirs. If you're having trouble with HW or any material in the class, go to office hours and he'll help you out. He also gives you the option to write a research-based essay on pertinent science-based questions for your term paper rather than than the usual taking a research paper and turning into an article thing. The essays are actually pretty cool. Also, if you put some real effort in, you could easily get full credit. Class (across his two sections) is curved to a 3.5 (A-/B+) which seems standard for FroSci Lots of extra credit opportunities (mostly watching movies/attending lectures), but he admits himself that extra credit doesn't count for much. Basically, count yourself lucky if you've got him as your seminar leader. Also, I would recommend using the podcasts rather than going to lecture: it really is essentially the same thing, and far more convenient.

May 2014

Pia makes the most of a pretty dreadful circumstance--FroSci discussion sections. She's very happy and very nice and, though a few questions about special relativity threw her off a little bit, she was generally very on-point with material (especially in her area of specialty, neuroscience). She didn't do anything too fancy throughout the year, though FroSci has a fairly prescribed curriculum and I couldn't really expect her too. All in all, not too much to say here, she was a decent choice, can't complain.

Apr 2014

Keeping in mind that FroSci is a waste of time regardless of your teacher, she does a great job of trying to make the class exciting. Despite these good intentions most people don't come into class expecting to put effort in so the discussions are usually painfully quiet and awkward. She really cares about the subject material, which can be disheartening if you're looking for a blow-off section. She actually grades the homework (reason enough never to take her class) and expects you to prepare outside of seminar a few times. She really is a helpful and kind person assigned to teach a bullshit class. I honestly hated the seminars. She would find ways to fill the whole time unnecessarily (some teachers let you out early) and actually try to facilitate a real class environment which is more annoying than necessary. My advice is find a teacher who doesn't give a shit (because you won't) and take his/her section instead.

Jan 2014

If you've ended up in Michael's Fro Sci section, you are super lucky! He's an amazing teacher, incredibly funny and smart. Honestly, he made fro sci a wonderful experience for me. He's always willing to help out, explain things perfectly, and give valuable advice to his students even when it has nothing to do with fro sci!! Again, you are extremely lucky to be in his section. Fro Sci was definitely one of my best experiences at Columbia, and i'm sure it had a lot to do with being in his class!

Jan 2014

Dr. Carr is the sweetest, most understanding, and generous professor. She puts so much time into FroSci and making sure her students understand the material being taught. Though not everyone taking FroSci is a science person, she always provides additional resources to anyone especially interested in any topic and makes herself available outside of classtime to individually help anyone with the course. The workload is minimal for FroSci, and she provides a lot of guidance with writing the term paper. She does a great job covering relevant material in seminar (so much so that the 500 person lecture on Mondays is definitely something you can miss once in a while) and prepares us very well for the midterm and final. It's clear from her teaching that she not only puts a lot of effort into her work, but also that she cares immensely about her students and our experiences in FroSci and at Columbia. Dr. Carr is a gem and made my first semester truly enjoyable. Though I am not one who likes science much, I ended up getting a lot out of FroSci largely in part due to Dr. Carr.

Dec 2013

I was lucky enough to have Caleb Scharf for Frontiers of Science this semester. Caleb Scharf is a really awesome guy. He's very understanding, and does not grade harshly. Homeworks are completion, which was fantastic. He understands the Frontiers is not always the most fun/interesting class- he does his best to make his discussion section bearable. No complaints about the class. I had to miss for a medical reason in the middle of the year, and he was fine with an explanation. He responds to emails quickly and does his best to answer any questions. He is the Director of Astrobiology at Columbia, which I'm pretty sure means that he studies aliens.

Dec 2013

Klejda was able to turn Frontiers of Science into a very enjoyable class. She was able to clarify tough material from lectures in seminars, and her enthusiasm complemented her knowledge of the topics, especially the physics section (she has a physics Phd and Emlyn Hughes was actually her PhD advisor at Caltech). If you have Klejda for your seminar leader then you should definitely stay in her section! She gives quizzes at the end of each of the four frontiers topics which are usually moderately difficult, but only count towards your participation grade. You should study for these quizzes by going over the key questions on the syllabus for each week and coming up with answers to the questions. Participation in Frontiers of Science is very important as it actually counts towards a percentage of your grade, you can participate by offering relevant information during every class and appearing attentive. The draft for the term paper is "optional" but you should definitely do it as Klejda gives very helpful feedback on how you should change your draft in order to synthesize a final product that meets her specifications. There was an optional review session before the final where Klejda went over much of the information which was required to know for the final and this was extremely helpful. Klejda is from Albania but speaks English very clearly (went to undergrad/graduate school at Caltech) and with only a slight accent. Going to office hours is very helpful and I highly advise you to go to office hours whenever you have any questions (and you're forced to go to office hours because homework is due during office hours). If you're unsure of anything and worry that you may sound unknowledgeable by asking questions, then you can definitely talk to Klejda during office hours. Asking relatively complex questions during class is also a great way to show your participation (you can also answer questions that Klejda poses). Frontiers of Science able to be an enjoyable class for me thanks to Klejda, she's a really great seminar leader.

Dec 2013

Kledja was an amazing seminar leader. If you were assigned to her section--STAY! She always came into class super excited to be teaching! During the seminars, she'd explain the lecture so clearly and basically go over what you need to know for the midterm and the final. She'd give us feedback on the homework and quizzes; she even set up one-on-one meetings to discuss the midterm and our projected grade for the course. And just wait for when you get up to physics! She herself is a physics person, so she gets unbelievably excited for it! You are so lucky to have her! Enjoy your semester!

Nov 2013

While Imre is incredibly nice, a forgiving grader and pretty hunky, he is not the world's best lecturer. He stutters and stammers from time to time, and had a hard time fielding questions from the obnoxious kid in our class (you know the one). I didn't mind his section though; he's pretty nice to look at and so are his slides. On several occasions, he let us leave pretty early as well. The problems with FroSci stemmed not from the discussions but from the course itself. Yes, it's incredibly easy, but also mind-numbingly pointless. While Brain and Behavior was enjoyable, and Physics had engaging lectures, the Evolution section was just awful, both in lecture and seminars. Advice to the FroSci: keep the easy, lose the stupid.

Jul 2013

William Menke is not that great of a teacher, but he's not bad either. His grading is very vague though, since he doesn't assign concrete points to homeworks or discussions and just gives you a final letter in the end. He said something the first day about standing out in class, and part of it is how well you participate to discussion and how thorough your homework answers are, as well as grades on your midterm/final/final paper. He has you hand in your homework for the week on the mondays of the week after, which gives you an extra weekend since all the other classes hand them in on fridays. For each discussion, he gives you some pre-discussion questions and readings. Then he questions you on the articles by drawing names randomly. He's a little bit quiet and awkward and he makes you go up to the front of the class sometimes when answering questions. There's some group activities involved too. In the end, Frontiers of Science is just a pretty easy course. Sure, you could probably find a more engaging teacher, but the readings and the homework are the same for everyone. When people say they didn't like FoS, it's more about the way the course is set up, rather than how their discussion professor was. As an upperclassman told me once, "It tries to be everything, but ends up being nothing." Still, you do learn a bit and the readings can be interesting sometimes.

May 2013

Very good seminar leader. Kelly is enthusiastic about the material and generally friendly towards her students. For some reason I felt like she didn't really like me too much, but I got a good grade in the class so maybe it was all in my head. Her seminars were a very good recap of what went on in lecture, though going to lecture isn't a bad idea. She posts the seminar slides on Courseworks, which I would recommend using as a summary of the extensive lecture slides. Kelly is definitely a hard grader, but your final grade is curved against the rest of your seminar so it doesn't really matter in the end. She is nit-picky about certain details on your homework and only gives out check-plusses for essentially perfect homework assignments. This can be pretty frustrating if you spend the time to do the homework thoroughly but only get a check. Still, the number one thing I would recommend for doing well in the course is taking the time to do the homework instead of copying it. You can fall behind in the course if you copy the homework too often, however laughable falling behind in FroSci may sound. Also, the homework reflects the exam material very well, so it's good practice. Kelly's also fairly nit-picky about the specifics of the term paper, so I would recommend handing in the optional rough draft to get her feedback. I banged out the paper the night before it was due and got a less than desirable grade. My paper was fairly well-written but missed some of the specific things she was looking for. Like many others, I feel that FroSci is a pretty useless course, but Kelly did a more than decent job covering the material and engaging us. Even when the class was lethargic and unresponsive in the morning, she never really get frustrated with us. Overall, one of the better FroSci section leaders you can get.

May 2013

If you just found out you got Bartos as your FroSci section leader, go find the registrars and make out with all of them. Imre is basically cute as hell, the kindest person ever, and casually on the Forbes list of Top 30 Under 30 in science (google it, shawty studies black holes and mosquitoes). His PowerPoints are graphically wondrous and he breaks down everything important from the lecture in an organized list of key questions. He smiles a lot and stutters sometimes and his eyes are the color of a sea made of Brita filtered water okay I'm done. When he has office hours for you to turn in your homework, don't hesitate to ask him questions about anything you didn't totally get. He sits and works with you and then you can stare into the Brita filter

May 2013

I LOVE MELINDA. I literally don't have one bad thing to say about her or her class. She is one of the most engaging teachers that I have had all year, and she is the sole reason that I have actually really enjoyed FroSci. Her quizzes are really easy, she plans fun activities for each class, she is ALWAYS available to meet outside of class during office hours to clarify material/discuss life in general, and her seminars are always very helpful in discussing the material (or teaching the material if you skipped lecture...) She really has a way of engaging each student and getting onto our level. She recognizes that the lectures can be boring and not engaging for her students, so she really does everything that she can to make her seminars very interesting. She truly and genuinely cares about the feedback her students have about lecture and her class and is thus very open to making adjustments based on the class's interests. I had a fantastic experience being in her section.

Jan 2013

I don't know if Sharon is ever going to teach this class again, but either way, she deserves a good review. Good discussion leader who actually manages to make a somewhat pointless class actually interesting without making it a time sink. She does a few things differently from most sections that greatly improve your FoS experience. She announces quizzes three weeks ahead of time, lets you hand your assignments in at the end of the week, rather than during the seminar, drops TWO of the ten, and reduced the paper from 2000 to 1500 words. She also allows for plenty of extra credit opportunities (though I don't think it mattered much in the end). Although she was somewhat slow in grading, she more than made up for it in quick responses and feedback to anything you had to ask both during and after class. People who are science majors may be put off by the fact that Sharon entertains every question, no matter how basic, but it's no worse than what you would get in other sections. Grading-wise, she's really fair. The SD for the midterm in our class accurately reflected the range of scientific backgrounds, and overall, grading was not harsh at all as long as you wrote a decent amount. My one complaint was that she wasn't very clear about letter grading, even when I asked. Most of the other sections have 40-45% in the A-range, so I can only assume. We also never got our final scores. Sharon is much more concerned with how much we learn and get out of the class though, so it's understandable. Overall, great section leader, and I hope she gets tenured soon.

Dec 2012

Imre is a nice guy who has a good understanding of his subject matter. He's sort of adorable and ridiculously cheerful, so ladies, prepare to swooooooon. In a word, he's 'goofy,' but in the most endearing way possible. He accepts homework late (as long as you've done it, he's happy, as always) and grades leniently, probably right around the way most FroSci professors do. His slideshows are amazingly helpful. I also like that he sticks to the syllabus while still throwing in tiny interesting bits of information here and there. He has a bit of trouble engaging the class, despite his puppy-dog eyes. A lot of the time it was just a few sympathetic students raising their hand to kill the silence, or the one lone asshole who spends 15 minutes of class having a discussion about things that nobody else understands or cares about. (Hint to the kid who wouldn't shut up and move on: GO TO OFFICE HOURS) While his slideshows are great, they only work if the class is awake. All in all, if you're in this section, relax. You've got a good teacher who grades fairly and enjoys the subject. He seems like the type of guy who would be happy to discuss science with you for years if you're so inclined or are having trouble.

Dec 2012

Frontiers is kind of boring, but Don Hood makes it manageable. As someone who is "not a science person", I wasn't looking forward to having to deal with the class, but first off it's really not that bad (if you can think logically and read graphs, you're mostly set), and secondly having this wonderful man as a discussion leader made things a lot better. He's not a harsh grader at all, and while the workload is standard across sections, he gets that you're probably not very excited about the class and grades accordingly. He was one of the lecturers for our semester, and his were actually pretty interesting, and well-organized to cater to both the sciency people and the humanities people. And, he invited us over to his house for dinner at the end of the course! If you're in his section, STAY THERE.

Dec 2012

I feel so lucky to have been in Dr. Hughes' Frontiers of Science discussion section. I honestly expected to have a miserable experience in Frontiers of Science and that it would be the worst part of the Core Curriculum, but Dr. Hughes made Fro Sci SUCH a great experience. She was also incredibly helpful in our transition into our first semester of college (I know a lot of my classmates feel the same way). By the end of the semester, I had told a ton of people who had been in U Writing first semester to do everything they could to get into her section.

Dec 2012

Allyson is a really nice, lovely woman. I personally found FroSci hideously boring but that might be just me - at any rate it certainly wasn't only her fault. She's very accessible both in and outside of class and more than once helped me with homework problems I was struggling with. She isn't a hard grader per se - that is, I got the sense most people get decent grades from her - but it is sort of hard to get better than a B+ on big assignments since she's kind of a stickler for details. Overall though, a very nice teacher. She goes out of her way to prepare you for assignments and give you time to complete them and is very organized which in a weird way actually helped keep me organized.

Dec 2012

Frontiers of Science-Seminar Leader If you're looking for a really helpful and understanding seminar leader for FroSci I suggest Dr. Arnal. She does a great job explaining the material but doesn't pretend to be an expert on all of the subjects. She makes sure to ask questions of the professors who are lecturing to better help the students during seminar. She's really nice and brought in candy for us during halloween and brownies during our last official seminar session. She goes out of her way to help you understand the concepts and only emphasizes the things necessary from the lecture. She's the reason I actually enjoyed taking FroSci this semester even though I absolutely hate any and all sciences. I would definitely suggest her to any student but especially to those who aren't "science" people.

Dec 2012

If you've been assigned to Ivana's section for FroSci seminar, congratulations. She is probably the best seminar leader in the course and is also one of the kindest people you will ever meet. She invited our class to her home THREE TIMES for dessert and discussion, and she literally cried at the end of our last seminar because she was sad to see us go. She can be fun and goofy but still is a very intelligent professor who will make sure you understand the material.

Sep 2012

Ivana is a fro-sci angel. She was kind, very accommodating and tended to think the best of everyone. I really liked her. She grades problem sets for completion. Her grading on the midterm/final was a bit harsh though. She will happily meet with you if you want questions answered and son on. And don't think I am saying this because I did really well in her class, at best, I did about average. But that was more because I didn't really put much effort in/focus on fro-sci sets, come to class on time. Freshman stuff.

Sep 2012

Frontiers with Dr. Franzese is pretty straightforward and businesslike. She sets out her expectations early and clearly, and from there your grade is pretty much entirely up to you. It's quite easy to pick up points: raise your hand and say something the requisite number of times per class, go to the mandatory museum trip, go to the extra credit lectures/opportunities she tells you about, and take advantage of her feedback on the term paper, which she will read and review for you as many times as you write it before the final deadline. There's a quiz every three weeks which you will do well on if you have done the WIAs, read the slides, and/or gone to section. She's a little awkward with students and runs things quite impersonally. This is not one of those classes where you bond with your instructor and classmates and have cuddly 'Columbia moment' feelings about it evermore. This is all perfectly fine, because it's not as though anyone goes to Frontiers hoping for anything more than watered-down, required drudgery anyway. Dr. Franzese is good at explaining unfamiliar material, is eminently fair about course requirements, and genuinely wants to impart an appreciation of science, and that's all you really need. /grumpy humanities student

Jun 2012

I landed in Professor Pollack's Frontiers section in Fall 2008 as a freshman and stayed in the section because Prof. Pollack seemed to be a nice guy who brought food to class and ran a laid back section. However, in retrospect not switching out of this section was one of my biggest mistakes at Columbia. Prof. Pollack did not prepare his class for exams; rather, he rambled about any random subject he felt like (irrespective of whether it had to do with the course material) for two hours each week. However, Prof. Pollack's spaciness and general disinterest in teaching the Frontiers curriculum wouldn't have been so problematic had it not been for his completely opaque and frankly arbitrary grading system. He would not reveal how grades were calculated until the end of the semester. At the end of the semester, he revealed that students could only get a maximum grade of 90% unless they wrote the optional "extra credit" paper (which could boost you into the A range) and/or if your final exam was two letter grades higher than your midterm score (if you got a C on the midterm and an A on the final, you got an extra 5% added onto your grade). Although I got an A on the midterm, an A- on the final, 100% on the homeworks, and an A+ on the extra credit paper, I wound up with a B+ in the course... I was one of 16 people in Pollack's two sections to contest my grade (an absurdly high number) but he was not receptive to anyone. I would not recommend taking his class.

Jun 2012

Helena was a lovely section leader. She began each seminar with an interesting article or video related to the material presented in Monday's FoS lecture, continued with a recap of this material, and ended with group activities. This I think was pretty standard across the sections, but Helena made the experience enjoyable and pleasant and (insert more positive adjectives here.) She was both kind and approachable as well as knowledgeable. It was clear that she really cared that we understood the material and wanted us to do well. She even took each of us aside towards the beginning of the semester to discuss how we were doing on the WIA's up until that point. Class in general was always laid back and the quizzes more than fair if one looked over the material (she gave study questions ahead of time, which was great.) Her review sessions before the midterm and final were also very helpful, so make sure you go to those (but you should also make sure to study on your own.) My advice from personal experience is to get started on the WIA's early in the week so that you can ask questions (she doesn't discuss the WIA questions or give any hints in class before the due date.) Also, submit a draft of the term paper and revise it before the due date so that you can score full points on that. In summary, consider yourself lucky if you get Helena as a section leader. Come to class, do the WIA's (enough missed classes or WIA's can make a significant difference in your final grade,) show some enthusiasm, and you'll be "really great!" :)

May 2012

Kelly is a great seminar leader! I really enjoyed her class overall and she's incredibly knowledgeable, engaging, and fun. She's a little quirky but she really loves science and I think she does a good job of using that to engage the students. She does a really good job filtering out the Frontiers lectures so that you only learn the most important material (which also prepares you well for exams). I went to like four or five lectures the whole semester but attendance to seminar is mandatory and if you pay like half attention during seminar she goes over everything from lecture but is quicker and clearer. Seminars are split up (as all of them are, I think) into an hour of lecture recap and then an hour of activity. I only knew a couple people in my seminar but there was a good dynamic in that some were interested in science and there was always some good discussion going on if you were into that. If you weren't it was a good time to check out after listening to the lecture recap for a while. She lets you use laptops and that's a good way to pass the time because two hours of seminar is really really unnecessary. Before I was in her class I heard that she was a harder grader than the other seminar leaders, and I definitely agree. She is very precise with the WIAs and things that are handed in, in general, and she's also a harder grader on exams. However, definitely note that each discussion section is curved separately to take into account the different levels of grading and expectations of each leader. As long as you beat the curve you're in B+/A-/A territory. As far as exams go, I would definitely say that Kelly prepares her sections very very well for them. She has review sessions where she goes over key questions and the classes in general cover everything you need to know from each lecture. Also if you don't spend the whole semester copying WIAs and you work with others on them you won't need to spend much time studying for the exams at all. Make sure to hand in your paper for the rough draft due date so she'll take a look at it and give you some feedback. Like most things she knows what she wants out of the paper. Also, she never gives pop quizzes--she always tells you when each quiz will be so that you can prepare. And I don't think they count for much at all. As a critique of the course as a whole, I definitely felt that the class got useless sometimes. But I also learned a lot about statistics (which will be valuable I think no matter what) and also have a higher degree of basic science knowledge. So I hope that they keep improving the course (one concept they really need to fix are the scientific habits--so useless).

May 2012

Liz is a very enthusiastic individual, to say the least. Although the material of FoS is laughably easy for people who remember high school science, she does make an extraordinary effort to assist those who needed the help through slides, study guides, numerous office hours, etc. Also, she provides free food right before the major tests of the course, which is always a plus. In short, she's an amazing instructor and you will enjoy (or be satisfied at minimum) with your experiences in her section. Talk to her about her research; she has interesting stories to tell.

May 2012

Dr. Liz is awesome! She's funny, quirky, and knowledgable! You learn quite a bit in recitation without too many quizzes, etc. I must admit that I find Frontiers to be a pretty boring and worthless class in general (though I think measures are being implemented in order to improve it -- fingers crossed), but Dr. Liz makes it as fun as she possibly can! And I know I sound like a fourth grader by calling her Dr. Liz, but for some reason it reminds me of Mrs. Frizzle and that feels appropriate.

May 2012

Helena is a great seminar leader! She is so caring, patient, and approachable. The class was hard to wake up for at 9 am, but she made it pretty fun with cool videos and occasional anecdotes. Helena also cares a lot about her students, and she'll make sure to talk to you if she thinks you're struggling. Definitely go to her office hours if you have any questions about the material (or just to say hi). She also offers fantastic reviews for the midterm and final.

Apr 2012

NO. Frontiers is awful and so is Hugh. Boring, irritatingly cheerful, and full of busy work. I dreaded this class more than anything. You barely even have to do the readings. Just go the lectures (Hugh gives stupid weekly quizzes to check if we went or not) and do the WIAs on time. I almost exclusively used the WIAs to study for midterm/final and did well; a lot of the problems were taken almost directly off the WIAs, but with different graphs/numbers.

Feb 2012

Best professor ever. Even though Frontiers of Science is one of the most painful classes around, she is a delight to interact with and learn from. She manages to make perfect sense of the muddled lectures and is so excited that it's impossible to have a bad time in her class. She also invites you over for dessert and offers a lot of extra credit options. If you are lucky enough to nab this wonderful woman, you'd be a fool to leave.

Jan 2012

Liz is amazing! I don’t know why she doesn’t have a nugget yet! Hope she gets one soon! Really thorough in her explanations and reviews and always always willing to help if you need. She’ll find time to extend office hours or anything to make sure you understand the material. She also brings us food and drinks whenever we review for an exam to help us relax :) she’s very understanding and cares about her students. so she’s a really great section leader and person. if you put in the effort you’ll get an A. definitely recommend taking her section.

Jan 2012

Needless to say, the December 21, 2011 review is absurd. Professor Hughes is a really cool guy, and I considered myself lucky to have wound up in his section. In addition to providing engaging and entertaining lectures on physics, he did a really nice job of leading our section with a helpful review of the material covered in the week's lecture. Professor Hughes would explain the topics in a clear and straightforward way, and would emphasize the topics we needed to be sure we knew for the exams which I appreciated. His grading on the midterm seemed a bit harsh - but this was perhaps meant as an encouragement to work hard on the term paper and on preparing for the final. I enjoyed the laid back atmosphere of his section and thank him for a pleasant and enlightening semester.

Jan 2012

This guy is a genius. Period. I do not know what other people in my FoS section thought, but he really made FoS one of my favorite classes this semester (Seems weird, but that's how awesome he is). Like the previous reviewer, I agree that FoS syllabus did somewhat limit his discussions and presentations, and yet his opinions and ideas were so thought-provoking that I kept thinking about them after each and every discussion section. It completely changed the way I thought about science. Maybe it's because I'm a science major, but still, you should consider yourself lucky if you get him as your discussion leader. Finally, he was eager to hear your ideas (this was supposed to be a discussion section after all), but the amazing thing was how he could respond to, challenge and encourage almost every kind of opinions that you had.

Dec 2011

Allyson is a solid professor for Frontiers. She is generally knowledgeable about the material, grades generously, and is very approachable regarding any questions or problems that you may have. A few more specifics on the academic layout for this class: Seminar - 40% (consists of homework packets called "WIAs," quizzes, answering to random questions Allyson posts online, attendance, term paper, Museum of Natural History visit) - For large lectures, I advise to go to them. Even if you already know the material, it helps your overall understanding to hear it from the specific professors who speak. Plus the lecture hall has wifi in case you get really bored or need to work on another assignment. - You should go to seminar lectures too since it counts for your grade and such - After each large lecture, Allyson makes you to email her a question you had about the lecture. If you don't have one, just BS a vague question about the general lecture and everything will be fine. - Homework is really easy if you have past science (esp. AP) experience. Even if you have a bit of trouble, just ask a friend or go to office hours. The grading goes from poor-fair-good-very good-great-excellent with good and above receiving full credit (I have never seen anything lower than a "very good") - Quizzes usually aren't too bad, but some people have trouble with them. They are usually 2-3 short response questions with one extra credit question. Just look over the lecture again if you really need to. - Over the course of the semester, Allyson may post random stuff online. It's worth a brief look and a brief response. - 1500 word term paper is annoying. Most people end up BSing a lot of it. For optimal grade, submit a draft early to Allyson for her to take a look over it and revise it. - Museum visit is generally enjoyable and it's worth going with Allyson and her enthusiasm. She bought us Shake Shack afterwards. Midterm - 20% - Choose 2 out of the 3 questions presented for each of the first two units and answer them fully. (So you answer a total of 4 questions which consist of smaller sub-questions) - Generally, they are pretty similar to the homework. - Standard studying is to just go through the powerpoints posted online and usually that is enough. If you need more, then go to office hours. - You are allowed one sheet of paper (both sides) as a cheat sheet. I've found it doesn't help much, but it you need it, it's there for you. Final - 40% - Similar to midterm except doing the third and fourth unit (and choosing 1 of 2 questions for first two units). So total of 6 questions answered. - Still similar difficulty to homework - Essay at the end which usually is pseudo-science related. It's hard to study for this; just being generally familiar with the concepts of the class is enough though

Dec 2011

Professor Hughes clearly did not want to teach FoS. It was very evident that it pained him to reduce the complexities of particle physics and quantum mechanics to a group of students that frankly didn't want to be there. This underscores an interesting phenomenon of FoS: neither the instructors, nor the students, want to engage. It's a curious thing when a physicist attempts to explain neurobiology (though I guess I am lucky in that I didn't have a neurobiologist trying to teach quantum mechanics). Professor Hughes also indicated that he's not at Columbia because it's Columbia, but merely because it "lessens the length of his trips to Geneva, which he frequents." This class is insulting, uninspiring, and a plain tedium. Everyone raves that the Core educates you, makes you a better person, etc. While this may be true for LitHum and CC, it is certainly not the case of FoS. This class made me question my choosing to go to Columbia.

Dec 2011

Consider yourself lucky if you are taking Frontiers (some call it Fro Sci) with Allyson! Allyson is knowledgable, incredibly approachable, and PASSIONATE about the course. Although honestly speaking most people take this course only because it is required, Allyson takes it so seriously that at the end of the semester we are all somehow got more interested in science, and better at Back of Envelop Calculations. Allyson explains the lecture in a clear and concise manner. She grades homework carefully and generously, and loves to answer your questions. Most importantly, she is always available during office hours! I remember one week when we were on some kind of break she went to Arizona for observation (she's an astronomer by the way!). Instead of canceling her office hours, she made it on Skype. That week I video chatted her on my term paper, and got to see the HUGE telescope and the computer lab she worked in! That was the only office hour I went to this semester, and now at the end of the semester I really wish that I could got to know her more. Allyson's passion on science has even motivated me (I'm arts and humanities major) to learn more about science.This is the last science course I will ever take for the rest of my life (though now I'm thinking taking more) and Allyson has made it so much better. Take this course seriously. At the end of the semester you might even miss it! Even if you are not that into science, you can at least get to know a great professor.

Dec 2011

Pretty much agree with what the other reviewers said. I wish we could have talked more about his areas of expertise because he had really interesting opinions and his research seemed fascinating. But alas we had to stick to the (bogus) Frontiers syllabus. Class was mostly tedious, occasionally interesting, every few minutes he'd step aside to cough up a lung. He's a decent grader for the most part and for some reason we had a TA who was responsible for posting things on Courseworks (I'm assuming it's because he has no idea how to use Courseworks), and not always in a timely manner. I mostly just felt bad because he seemed trapped by the Frontiers curriculum and you could tell he really wanted to talk about more interesting things.

Dec 2011

Klejda was great. Period. I'm not a fan of frontiers and thought most of the lectures were unbelievably boring. Still, for all that I didn't understand at the lecture, Klejda was able to very quickly explain all that we actually needed to know during our discussion section and explain it in a way that made more sense. She's also very concerned about whether or not she's teaching well and would ask us frequently if she was explaining whatever in a way we understood, even setting up a survey at one point to make sure she was helping us. Her grading was also really helpful. She always leaves informative comments. I don't think I made less than a 100 on any assignment. If you're in her section, stay in it.

Aug 2011

Here's what it boils down to: if you are lucky enough to be automatically placed in David Kagan's Frontiers section, don't bother looking around culpa to see if there is anyone better. Stay in this section. If you aren't so lucky, try to elbow your way in with some major ssol wrestling. This isn't because David is a behemoth of an authority in his field; he's still a bit young for that. But, with Brian Greene as his boss, he's certainly on the right track, and you'll catch glimmers of this whenever he's given the chance to talk about quantum physics. He may be green, but he is clearly just an extremely intelligent guy. Seriously, while you have the chance, probe him about his work. He will never bore you about the trajectories of nucleons and quarks; he seems far more concerned with the philosophical and worldly implications of physics (an interdisciplinary outlook that FroSci is trying to accomplish). Apart from being hyper-smart and enthusiastic, he really is just a great teacher, given the context of the class. There's no denying it: the class is dull for the most part. But David does the best he can to make it bearable, and decidedly not difficult. He won't hold reticence during seminar against you when it comes to grading. As long as you show up and turn in the assignments, he'll treat you like his best friend. And if you don't, he'll still probably be extremely nice to you and not a harsh grader. Since he was not too long ago a Columbia student, he gets that you can't invest all of your time into this class, but he will do his very best to make sure you do well and get out of it as much as possible. Of particular note in this regard is his penchant for sending exceedingly long emails concerning the week's topic of discussion; you don't have to read them, but you're given the option to soak up his great breadth of knowledge. Overall, David is probably one of the best bets you will have as a Professor. He made a class I was dreading even when applying to Columbia not only tolerable, but surprisingly enjoyable.

May 2011

You're reading about Frontiers, so you already know this is one of the worst classes ever. I'm not going to comment on that; there are enough reviews that to cover every angle of it's horribleness. Hugh is a good leader to get you through this class. He's nice, understanding, smart, and really decent about deadlines. If you get him as your leader, stick with him. He's a tougher grader than some of the other section leaders. No, I didn't do as well as I'd hoped in this class. However, it was a more pleasant experience because I took it with him.

May 2011

Frontiers of Science isn't exactly the best class out there in the core, but Eleni made it bearable. She's very thorough in reviewing the lecture material and she tries her best (within her knowledge) to answer our questions. The activities during discussion section are pretty useless in my opinion, but she made it as interesting as she possibly could have. She also puts in a lot of effort to really engage the students during discussion. I remember on the first day of class, she somehow had all of our names down... Overall, I think I got away with a generally positive experience of Frontiers of Science because of the fact that I was fortunate enough to have Eleni as a discussion leader.

May 2011

David himself, is pretty cool, although if you mine him closely for his own thoughts on science as a discipline, he views it as something that kind of replaces and supersedes the humanities, which is a bit scary. David tries to make seminars interesting, but sort of fails. Our class was 10 minutes of discussion, and 110 minutes of review of what we already learned in lecture, with a bit too much condescension for my taste (I knooooow that the [basic structure of dna] is hard to understand, but I want to help you), and I generally just found his upbeat attitude a mask to make up for the glaring lapses that constitute Fro Sci as a class. David, I can safely say, is better than ninety percent of the instructors of fro sci, but it's still just really difficult to make this class interesting.

May 2011

He was the BEST Frontiers of Science professor I could possibly have gotten. He is a modest and sweet guy with a genuine care for all of his students. He gives weekly quizzes and thoroughly goes over the WIAs so that all of his students understand exactly what's going on. Furthermore, he gives us snacks weekly! he really does everything in his power to make sure Frontiers is not the boring and pointless class that everyone dreads going to. I genuinely enjoyed going to his class, due to his lighthearted teaching style and pleasant class environment. Also, our class had a very high average on the midterm (second highest out of all the sections). He is an easy but very fair grader, and even if science isn't your forte, you can do well in his class. LOVE THIS MAN.

May 2011

I'm trying to figure out a good reason why Dr. Hughes doesn't have a gold star. I just can't come up with one. She makes Frontiers enjoyable. Seriously, it's weird that she can accomplish such a seemingly-insurmountable task. She is really really ridiculously passionate about Frontiers, which can be a little burdensome at times for the students, but she totally gets us into it. She has office hours in her apartment for goodness sakes, and you should absolutely go. I went to office hours every other week or so, feigning a question about the WIA. She would engage in conversation about my family, my future goals, and my time at Columbia. She offered life advice, research opportunities, and letters of recommendation. I have little doubt that she would do this for everyone else as well, she is that sort of person. I think of her as my Columbia mother-figure here. She just had a kid, so I don't know if she is going to be teaching Frontiers again anytime soon. But if she is, I don't know if I could recommend a professor any higher.

Apr 2011

Paul's discussion section turned out to be a lot of fun, especially considering my pretty low expectations for frontiers of science. Class is usually divided into three portions, where Paul goes over the previous homework, then lecture topics are discussed and finally the frontiers activity is done. The class is very structured and it lends itself to meaningful discussions about the topics covered, such as volcanoes and nuclear weapons. Paul was a very fair grader and the fact that he did not give "grades" out for quizzes and WIAs made the class a lot less stressful and, at least in my opinion, really allowed students to focus on the larger exams and mastering the material. Paul was also really helpful in explaining topics and was readily available for office hours and what not. Overall, a great instructor to what surprisingly turned out to be a fun class, despite the bashing it receives from most students.

Mar 2011

Strange man. Not much else to say; his classes were just utter tedium, with half of the class filled up by unengaged athletes who had a strange propensity for the History Channel. Although at times his peculiarity was quite amusing, I cannot reasonably say that the 1 hour and 50 minute long Frontiers discussion (or lack thereof) was of any particular value, and I would recommend that those that are unfortunately relegated to his class consider it a sunk cost. Peter himself is very polite, and will probably answer your questions (although in a very roundabout manner). Also you will have to adjust to his endless coughing, probably a result of his chain smoking.

Feb 2011

Alenka is, like the previous reviews stated, a fair FOS instructor. She really tries to initiate discussion, but only a few people ever spoke up, so she occasionally had to force people to contribute to the conversation. She is very kind, but not very helpful. I feel like she expects her students to know a lot coming in to the course, so if math and science aren't your strong suits, you might have difficulty as she tends to answer questions with more questions and never really gives a straight answer. She grades very fairly (I got an A on the midterm and I hardly did the readings). GO TO LECTURE. That is my only advice for this class. The lectures can be boring, but you can always sleep through the less interesting parts.

Feb 2011

Paul knows his subject really well, but if you aren't acquainted with the material, it is extremely difficult to make sense of his teaching methods. He is a physicist first and a teacher second. Although he was a hard grader, my final grade ended up being much higher than I thought it would be. Besides a few "aha!" moments, however, easy material was still easy and difficult material was not really elucidated. There isn't *much* that is terribly redeeming about this class. Paul's a good guy, pretty nice, and likes when his students take an interest, but I would probably switch sections if you want something easier.

Jan 2011

I really hated Sharon at the beginning of the term, but she did grow on me. She was nice, understanding, and a generally good person to be around. She grades a little harshly, but she'll make up for it in the end - she wants her students to do well. She is a bit awkward sometimes, but generally she's OK. I can't say what other FroSci professors are like, but Sharon was totally fine/adequate. She also gave us a break to get snacks mid-class. Much appreciated.

Jan 2011

Paul was nice and friendly if a bit of a dork. Class was fairly interesting sometimes, but that was mainly because our discussion group was great, not really because of Paul. He was happy to go over thinks if you asked. He added extra pages to our WIAs which was really annoying. We all thought he was a tough grader (the average on out midterm was a 33.5/60... ouch) until our final marks came out... some magical curving happened there...

Jan 2011

You will be lucky to get Dr. Hughes as your Frontiers teacher. Dr. Hughes is by far one of the nicest professors I have met at Columbia. Additionally, she is ridiculously intelligent and always has interesting information tidbits to pass on to others. She also is always interested in students' lives and seeing how they're doing and learning what they're learning about. Dr. Hughes made Frontiers not only bearable, but I actually sort of looked forward to it. Dr. Hughes understands that not everyone's a scientist, but that we are all intelligent human beings. She wants us to do well. Those who work hard and make an effort to do well (even if they don't get the best scores or understand all the lectures) are rewarded. She has her office hours in her beautiful/awesome/I-wish-I-lived-here-instead-of-Hartley apartment. GO TO OFFICE HOURS. Dr. Hughes does care about Frontiers, and thinks that it is a good program. And honestly, Frontiers is at its heart, a good idea. It's just not perfectly executed. Fortunately, if you have Dr. Hughes, Frontiers actually becomes kind of cool. Plus, she is so adorable.

Jan 2011

Sharon was a new prof but totally great. She is fantastic and incredibly enthusiastic about science, and even if you totally hate science she will at least get a few laughs out of you. Occasionally she is awkward in class, but that was partly due to a class that didn't talk too much, Really helpful if you need it, always willing to make time to explain things to her students. If you get her as a teacher for frosci, keep her.

Jan 2011

Liz as she likes to be known is a wonderful frontiers teacher. This was her first term teaching frontiers, yet she managed to make this an enjoyable class and make the material understandable. She is very pleasant and approachable and always willing to help, she had review sessions for both the midterm and the final and made her self available during finals time to discuss problems and other parts of the material. Her class usually consists of a review/recap of the weeks lecture which can really help with understanding, answering questions people ask during the class or emailed to her during the week and doing the coursewide activities. The midterm and final were manageable. I'm someone who does a lot of science classes and I feel that frontiers with Liz was worth it, yet I think she also made it manageable for those who don't have much of a science background. My frontiers section was from 6:10-8:00 an had the potential to be a drag after a long day but thanks to Liz it never was. In short if you get her, be happy.

Dec 2010

I thought Merry was great. She was upbeat and sarcastic and obviously wanted us to do well. She graded the midterm much easier than many of the other section leaders and gave us lots of resources and extra practice problems. She was helpful during her office hours and usually noted who showed up to extra review sessions. Also she would bring us cookies in class and often let us out early. I think I was lucky

Dec 2010

This guy is the BEST. He cares a lot for his students, and he does very comprehensive reviews of the material. He takes time to get to know his students well. Although seminar definitely drags on sometimes, it's well worth it in the end. In terms of the weekly lecture, truly don't bother going. Most students get, by the end, that it's really not worth it. The lectures are posted online, even with an mp3 recording in case something is hard to understand. Although frontiers is pointless as a class, Don Hood will make your experience a lot more pleasant.

Dec 2010

I hate science and I REALLY HATED Frontiers of Science lectures. But Summer Ash was the one benefit to being in that class. Not only was she fair and approachable in seminar, but she also cared about each and every student in our class, often checking in on our process with WIAs, term assignments, and exam prep. Also, it's rare if she doesn't respond to an email within a few hours. Summer somehow managed to make the most obscure and seemingly dull topics decent for our class. If you have her, appreciate her, because she is truly the best FroSci seminar leader you could ask for.

Dec 2010

Liz has been AMAZING. She is not only extremely nice and dedicated, but she never grew tired of repeating the same time 5 or 6 times to those of us who weren't good in science. She prepared perfectly for every section, and her notes for midterm/final review were super helpful. She brought us cookies and cider before exams to make it easier for us, and she was just the right mix of informal and professional. I'm pretty sure everyone in the class liked her a lot, and her grading style is absolutely fair. You get points for any sort of logical thinking that could be on the right way to the correct answer. If you get Liz as your section leader, consider yourself lucky!!

Dec 2010

If you get Nicholas Christie Blick for Frontiers, find another section. He takes Frontiers way too seriously, will literally send you two or three emails every day (and attached PDF's of those emails, in case you want to download them onto your computer to reread at a later time), demands extra work, likes putting students on the spot and making them feel like idiots for not knowing some random ass detail that we never even learned in the first place because he doesn't really teach you anything, and finding ways to make science more boring than it already is. If you have a thing for middle-aged British men who chuckle at their own jokes, then NCB is right for you. If not, spare yourself a lot of grief and find a less intense teacher who realizes how much of a joke Frontiers is in the first place.

Dec 2010

This man is insane. The level of dedication he expects for this joke of a class is completely ridiculous, and his obsession for all things Frontiers borders on manic. He emails his students several times per day, often singling out specific people in the emails that he sends to the whole class. He creates a hostile work environment (creating "hit lists" to punish students struggling with the concepts) and turns almost all students off to the subject and him. SWITCH OUT IF YOU CAN.

Dec 2010

Pollack in general is a pretty cool guy. Taking a seminar with him is mostly him talking and a few people raising questions on parts they didn't understand. I found his seminar interaction overall not too bad, and he even brought us food every class. The problem with his seminar however is the fact that his grading is extremely subjective and on average quite difficult. From he beginning of class he tells you that 60% of the grade is tests and the other 40% is something subjective. He doesn't even tell you what exactly it consists of, but one can probably guess its some combination of participation and just what he thinks about you. He even tells you to "not worry about it". I personally scored a high 80 (with the average being a high 70) on the midterm and over 90 on the final (I asked at the end of the semester), did all my hw, attended all the lectures, and even wrote the "extra credit" paper, and ended up under an A-. I personally asked him what the grading distribution looked like at the end of the semester and he told me only two people out of a class of around 20 managed to score in the A range and B+ is "well above the mean". I think this class is fine in terms of having a knowledgeable professor but the 40% subjective grading can really be a wildcard. Just be warned that grading is tough.

Nov 2010

Alenka isn't the best Frontiers teacher out there, but she's O.K. She basically goes over whatever you learned in the lecture during the week's seminar. She sometimes has difficulty relating to students. When I told her I was having a hard time understanding a certain section, she didn't really ever comprehend why I would ever have a hard time with it. We don't discuss the reading often, but sometimes they're on the quizzes so that's worth a thought. She gives a lot of extra credit work though, so that's always helpful.

Oct 2010

If you get this guy, thank your lucky stars. He will make that unnecessarily long two-hour discussion section a little more bearable. About Frontiers of Science in general, chances are you won't like it. If you like science, the necessarily short amount of time spent and shallow engagement with each subject will likely frustrate you. If you don't like science, you won't like this class because it involves science and a little bit of math and you didn't come here for that. Lectures are recorded and Powerpoints posted online, so there's no real compelling reason to go to lecture. Many don't go, but I did so half out of interest and half out of a weird sense of duty. In any case you'll need to budget an hour and a half sometime during the week to go/listen to the lecture and 30-90 mins a week to do your WIA (short problem sets, pretty easy). Which brings us back to the once-weekly discussion. It's too long, but its length gives each section time to do some pretty cool experiments and demos. Helfand himself is a force. He came up with this course and he really believes in it and its methods for better or worse. He was a little more informed in the Astronomy stuff because that's his area, but he was dynamic no matter what we were discussing. Plus he's just legitimately an interesting and cool guy. In conclusion, Helfand is good. Frontiers isn't, but it's not too bad. Much better than UWriting (shudder) in terms of the interesting material to amount of work ratio.

Aug 2010

Merry is, as the past reviews state, a nice woman. At least, in class. Get her alone in her office hours and she can make you cry. But this is only because she wants you to succeed. She grades fairly but does not believe in any kind of grade boosters. She does not offer any extra credit assignments, as most other Frontiers discussion leaders do. All in all, she's not the worst discussion leader you can have. But, she's also not the best. She makes herself available to students, but then gets aggravated when you don't quickly understand what she is explaining to you. If I had a choice, I probably wouldn't choice Merry.

Aug 2010

Don't be fooled by his cranky sounding emails: Bobby P is the sweetest, most adorable old guy alive. His seminars were very interesting if you paid attention, and if you could show up on time, or at all for his 9 am classes, cause homey's mad smart. He shows up to class with his double mint gum box of nearly dried out red pens in his grandfatherly attire...with his mac and blackberry. Homey's mad cool too. If you don't show up for class, he will notice and email your counselor if you do it too many times. But that's ok cause Bobby P's freaking awesome. Frontiers of Science was the bane of my existence. That is all.

Jul 2010

One of the most caring and all around intelligent professors that I've had the pleasure to have, Dr. Hood was a true blessing for Frontiers. He headed up the program and actually was the lecturer on Neuropsychology, so his seminars were extremely focused during our weeks on that subject. While I heard many other seminar leaders only knew about one of the lecture series, Hood attempted (and succeeded) in becoming as much of an expert that we needed in each section. Funny, devoted, caring and just simply enjoyable, Hood made Frontiers for me (a strict Humanities student) much more bearable (and at times even enjoyable) experience than I expected. Get him if you can!

May 2010

Overall interesting guy: past dean of Columbia College, closed his biology lab to focus on Science & Religion, has a wiki page, etc. It would also be cool to have a guy who gives some of the FoS lectures, which Bob does, on Evolution. That said, the seminars are boring as hell. I think I made the suggestion on Courseworks that they should do away with seminars altogether and just have the lectures (most of which I find engaging) and help rooms. Professor Pollack does not make it any more interesting by being a strict advocate of the FoS seminar. Almost everything is done to the book: lecture review, taking up of homework, activity (which he sometimes alters or omits). No offense, but I have to admit that Bob is getting a bit senile. While he is extremely clear in communicating what he wants, he's not the most engaging speaker (it shows in the lectures he gave). The seminars end up being a four-way conversation between Pollack and a few very eager, but uncomprehending students. I ended up skipping quite a number of seminars (and yet did quite well in the course), because a) it's boring and b) it's way too early. Nonetheless Professor Pollack is still a nice guy, at least a full faculty member. His seminars are just plain annoying, and the attendance shows. His bringing treats (almost) every class is as a big hallmark of his teaching style as the name cards and red pens.

May 2010

When I signed up for Ana's Frontiers discussion section, professors hadn't been posted yet, so I blindly chose hers -- and I was incredibly lucky to wind up with Ana. Of all the frontiers leaders I've heard of, Ana is by far the best. While others blamed their sections for doing poorly on the midterm, Ana apologized by saying that the leaders clearly weren't teaching the material as well as they should. And isn't that the truth! For as much as I was willing to put into this stupid required class, it's impossible to get much useful out of it (seriously, though, what can you expect when all they talk about is "back of the envelope" estimations??) But Ana invested a lot of time in making it as easy for us as possible; she grades fairly; she explains things clearly; she is always available for one-on-one explanations. At the end of the semester, she typed up a summary of everything we were supposed to know. It was so clear and concise that I sent it to all my friends -- whose section leaders had done nothing of the sort. If you find yourself in Ana's section, consider yourself lucky -- and even though sections are an annoying obligation, be as nice to her as you can, she deserves it. And if you can, do yourself a favor and switch into Ana's section!

May 2010

1. She is really nice. 2. She is scary intelligent, but don't let that intimidate you. 3. She has this odd combination of feeling passionate about Frontiers (in a very childlike, dorky, and endearing way...) and feeling obligated to give us good grades. (Again, she is nice!!!) 4. She is so freaking nice. You've heard about dessert night and her equally enthusiastic and smart husband who works at CERN, so definitely try to get into her section. But don't do it to take advantage of her. She recognizes that none of us really liked or cared about Frontiers as much as she did and yet she curiously still loves teaching. People, we need to keep her from getting jaded.

May 2010

He was absolutely wonderful. Genuinely a nice man who wants his students to understand as much of the material as possible. Discussions were boring, but that is to be expected in frontiers. He will help you out as much as he can, offering office hours and a review for the final. He was lenient with grading and gave students as much credit as was merited. He was enthusiastic and encouraging. I got really lucky with him, considering how many horror stories I've heard about other sections. If you do the WIAs, skim the readings/lectures, and go to class, you should be fine. I never went to lecture and managed to do well on the homework, quizzes, and midterm. Take him if you can, you won't regret it and this class won't be too much of a downer.

May 2010

Prof. McManus really carried my experience with FroSci and made it as bearable as it could be. He's amazingly coherent, interested in engaging humanities people, and (best of all?) an easy grader. He will look for ways to give you points on the tests and encourage clarifying discussion in class. A word of advice to future classes: if he gives you the option of taking quizzes every week in discussion, take it. Between the weekly quizzes and going over the homeworks in class (again, I would recommend doing this, given the option), your retention will soar. Aside from the problems associated with the course as a whole, if Jerry McManus is your FroSci section leader, I feel you really don't have anything to complain about.

Mar 2010

I must say that after hearing about how Frontiers is every scientist's and non-scientist's least favorite class, I was worried about the semester to come. However, thanks to Matt, I've been finding the semester not only tolerable but very enjoyable. Even though it's his first semester teaching, Matt has a nice array of interesting animations, youtube clips, and xkcd comics that put the science in perspective, show us how the science is used in Hollywood, and give us a good laugh. Since he is an astrophysicist, he definitely enhanced the astronomy lectures with a lot of interesting information that was not conveyed to us in lecture. Yet even in earth science, he tied together concepts and presented us with questions - some of which he didn't even definitively know the answer to - that definitely intrigued us. I think that the problem that typically occurs in FoS is that the teachers and the students both consider the course to be an unnecessary yet mandatory diversion from their studies, but this is not the case with Matt. He definitely puts a lot of time into the course, as is exemplified by the above and the fact that he goes to all the weekly lectures not only once, but twice (there’s a teachers only exclusive lecture that we are unfortunately not invited to). Matt also gives specific feedback to us on all of our homework assignments, and he provides interesting commentary on the projects that we do during class. Most importantly, though, Matt manages to cater to scientists and non-scientists alike. I think all Frontiers discussion teachers should take up his practice of having students send in one or more questions after Monday's lecture. Often, I think this is the most interesting part of discussion because everyone can inquire about his or her personal interests and discuss intriguing aspects of the lectures on a variety of levels. Still, there are pros and cons to every class, and this is no exception. Overall, the material still has the potential to be a lot more trenchant than it is, the class has the tendency to blankly stare at the wall for two hours (granted, its 6pm on a Tuesday), and the departmental discussion activities can seem as if they were designed for middle school students. Also, if you care about this, the grading seems harder than it is in most other classes, but it will be worth it to have a good discussion anyway. Some of my friends in my physics class (2800) said they spent an hour or two on the homework, studied another hour for the exams, and got an easy A+. Yet Matt expects more than just a series of computations followed by a one sentence explanation on the homework questions if you want a check plus (which is a vague grade that is roughly equivalent to an A). Still, don't hold yourself back from taking this class simply because you might get challenged a little more. Matt is very fair, and he seems more annoyed by the department's mysterious grading policy than we are. In conclusion, take Matt’s discussion because it is interesting, enjoyable, and much better than the horror stories I heard from my friends in other sections. You’re at Columbia to learn from awesome teachers and embrace a well-rounded core curriculum, so take up the opportunity to have a bit of an extra challenge while learning and enjoying yourself more too. Choose Matt’s class and you won’t regret it!!

Mar 2010

Ivana is a delightful and adorable woman - try to get her for your frontiers discussion section. She's very sweet and very reasonable; as long as you pay a reasonable amount of attention she won't mind what you do. Basically, it's okay to mess around in class and have fun as long as you learn something. She tries very hard to make discussion engaging and useful - she incorporates lots of hands-on activities and tries to get students to participate instead of just lecturing to you. Her quizzes are VERY easy and always based on something from that week's lecture. With Ivana, you don't really have to do any reading for this class. Also, she makes the weekly homework due on Friday each week instead of the day she holds discussion, unlike most discussion leaders. She even invites you over to her house for dessert with her husband and her. Wonderful lady!

Feb 2010

Prof. Cai is such a nice person. She brought in cookies for the class every day. Unfortunately, she is not such a great professor. She can be extremely difficult to understand as English is not her first language. The classes were also very boring (though that was most likely not her fault as the course was inherently boring). She was a relatively forgiving grader, and she is very devoted to her students. She's always willing to help after class. Prof. Cai is so invested in her students that she even meets with them to make sure they are doing well. She is very nice and very helpful. Take her class if you are looking for a nice professor who will grade fairly and help you whenever you want. Do not take this class if you are looking for a fascinating Frontiers experience; it was often excruciatingly boring.

Feb 2010

Nick is hilarious, engaging, friendly, and extremely committed to Frontiers of Science. Where a lot of seminar leaders don't take FoS seriously, Nick DEFINITELY does. He obviously spent huge amounts of time on even this freshman course and would go to great lengths to meet up or answer questions. His enthusiasm made the section fun and worthwhile--but outside of class, his commitment seemed a little scarily obsessive. Know that you will be expected to be just as committed to the course as he is. Use every one of the resources he provides you with (especially Courseworks. He randomly throws out extra credit to people who have spent time going over the extensive materials posted, and very conspicuously notes who they are...and, indirectly, who they aren't...).

Feb 2010

David is SO COOL! If you end up with him as your Frontiers Section leader, you're in for a treat. Classes begin with some random quote at the beginning of a Powerpoint that David *attempts* to link to the overall presentation. There are a few occasional quizzes on the lectures, but I found that our entire class was eager to attend the lectures because of David's obvious enthusiasm for the subject matter. In-class discussions get to be quite interesting. He's extremely open to anything a student may want to present and more than willing to answer any questions in class, after class, via e-mail, or during appointments outside of class. David really gets the class to think about present issues not only from not only a scientific standpoint but also in philosophical standpoint. I highly recommend him.

Jan 2010

If you get Nick as your Frontiers of Science seminar leader, by all means try to keep him! Based on what I've heard from other people, he's definitely one of the better seminar leaders out there. He is an excellent teacher and really tried to know the material of the course cold (and sometimes admitted to spending hours figuring out the answer to a certain problem). He also cares a lot about everyone in the class, and he is always open to questions (not condescending at all), though he does get a little disappointed sometimes when we don't get the answers to a question he asks. As a person with an excellent background at science, I gradually lost my initial excitement for the course over time. However, having class with Nick was the saving grace of this course, when problem sets were trivial and annoying and the lectures were tiring. Even though class dragged on a little some days (it was my second to last class on thursday, right after lunch), I really liked being in his class because he's such a great guy. He tells stories and has a British accent and makes cute noises sometimes...*sigh* He even let us eat lunch with him at the Faculty House for free (which has amazing food), in order to discuss improvements to the course... He's just awesome. I'm kind of jealous of next year's class, because he'll be leading the course then.

Jan 2010

If you have any experience in legitimate science classes in high school, you will be fine in this class - don't worry. Summer Ash is a smart person; she is approachable, but fair. The concept of the course in itself though has its positive and negative aspects because it attempts to lightly introduce 4 different areas of science. To get an A: Participate in class, do the homework assignments well enough to get a check on them. Although before the midterm, she will grade one of the WIA's on a point-basis (you are warned - do well on that WIA/go to the help room if you are not confident enough). Be very meticulous on the midterm. Focus on units, assumptions, and avoid math mistakes. Also, work quickly on the midterm. The final is a bit more lax, but still, keep track of your time.

Jan 2010

a charming woman frustrated with apathy class can be boring As someone who didn't like the Frontiers of Science of curriculum very much, I think Eleni did a good job in at least attempting to elicit some excitement in my section. She did get a bit unhappy with us when she noticed how many of us were not going to lecture and showed that frustration in a very lecture-specific quiz once, but otherwise she is mostly nice and will laugh along with the humor directed towards Frontiers. She was understanding when it came to assignments, letting us turn in WIAs on Fridays instead of at seminars on Wednesday. She does have a passion for science which shows when she mentions her research. It was only that the structure of Frontiers sections was dry, and we rarely went beyond the lectures or the readings in the topics. I wouldn't be too concerned of doing badly even if you aren't a science person. Eleni is competent and is quite willing to be helpful outside of the classroom, and she sincerely wants each student to do well.

Jan 2010

I did not mind Summer as much as everyone else is saying. Yes she did summarize what was said in lecture in seminar in almost the exact same words, and yes she is a little robotic, but I felt overall she was pretty fair. She grades homework, which is essentially a bit of graph reading and some critical thinking after some articles that may or may not be very helpful, extremely tough. However, the inclass quizzes are a joke: they are the big ideas of what was said in lecture, and it is not necessary to study for them. The midterm and final are departmental, and they are pretty straight forward. With Summer, all you need to do is write a logical answer and explain your thinkign and she will give you full credit on the assessments. Also, if you participate in class she is willing to bump you up a half letter grade. Finally, if on the final you surpass your first midterm score by the standard deviation of the midterm (which was 8 in my class) she replaces both your midterm and final score with your good final score which is significant. Overall, I felt she was qualified and was not the worst teacher as everyone else seems to think.

Dec 2009

She's a nice person, but SHE'S A GEOLOGIST. This fact makes it hard to take her seriously speaking about Astronomy... she's learning a lot of the material at the same time her students are. Professor Cai acknowledges this constantly, that she's not an expert. But really, what single person is an expert on Brain and Behavior, Earth Science, Astronomy, and Biodiversity? That's a fundamental flaw in the course, compared to the other core classes. Sessions are long and tedious, mostly because Merry only has a limited amount of things to say about each topic (except Earth Science). It's not her fault, but prepare to be frustrated with Frontiers itself and try not to take it out on Merry. Participate if you want an A.

Dec 2009

Even though Frontiers is a poorly run class, most of what even helped me get through it was having Elnaz as my seminar leader. She is kind, understanding, and she does realize that Frontiers is a joke (either in a positive or negative way). She grades (for the most part) easy. Her power points review the important material learned in class, so you essentially don't have to attend. Her quizzes involved either reading the lecture notes or being able to do a back of the envelope calculation. Her only downside is in that she does not know how to interact with a college class. Yes, we are freshmen, but that does not mean that you can talk to us like we are little kids. But besides that, she is easy to deal with. And she does give out candy...and arranges a reasonably entertaining review session tournament game before the final.

Dec 2009

Merry Cai isn't really as bad as the previous reviews make her out to be. She may at times have difficulty explaining the concepts, but quite frankly the concepts are almost always intuitive, not requiring explanation at all. People struggle to explain the obvious. Any problem with the class is more an issue of the course itself. That said, Frontiers of Science is a ridiculous attempt to educate, an insult to the Columbia name. But that's another story. In comparison to other FoS discussion leaders, Merry assigns relatively little work. There's a quiz maybe every unit, and there are four units in total. All the other work is common to all FoS sections. In fact, Merry is very lenient about turning homework and take-home quizzes in late. I turned one in a week late and had no points deducted.

Dec 2009

Matt is a really nice guy with a slightly nerdy sense of humor. Aside from the fact that you may or may not find the material in this class interesting, he does do a good job at summarizing the most important facts from lecture and adding to them. He really loves having you work in groups so you'll do that almost every class. Sometimes I did fall asleep, however that's not really his fault as he does a lot to keep you interested, including giving out large amounts of candy. He's always very approachable during his office hours and also during class which is definitely a plus.

Dec 2009

Really good professor. She cares about each of her students understanding the work. Quizzes are really easy and not always given on a regular basis. She's a lot more dedicated to her students than most professors, she met individually with all of us to go over our midterms. One fault may be not being able to make the class more interesting, but that may be more of the problem of Frontiers than Professor Hughes herself. She invited us over to her house one night for dessert and a seminar with her husband about the Large Hadron Collider. She's also a really generous grader.

Dec 2009

Alenka is a fine FOS discussion section leader, but I question whether she could teach any other class where the curriculum wasn't spelled out word for word like the curriculum of Frontiers. Her ability to solicit class participation was very lacking. The students who wanted to gain a few participation points would speak up and those who were not as concerned for their grade would sit in the back and never say a word. No one, however, really cared about what we were talking about. I'm not sure if that's a failure on the part of our teacher or the course itself, but it is the main critique I have. I simply was never engaged by Alenka or made to care about what I was learning. On the third lecture Alenka walked in with a new MacBook Pro saying, "This is what I get for teaching this course." I think her statement sums up our discussion section nicely. No one really wants to be there, and, while Alenka is happy to help you, her heart just isn't in it. Other than that, I think Alenka is a fair grader and definitely knowledgeable enough about all the subjects in Frontiers that she was able to answer all my questions.

Dec 2009

If you have taken science since 4th grade, frontiers is in the bag. A few vocab words for each section of the course (4 parts) and basic stats/bar graphs. I don't understand why the core is able to leave the humanities classes at an acceptable level, but feels that it must dumb down science. I was bored out of my mind most of the time. DON'T go to the lectures, it is a waste of your monday morning, read the slides online or listen to podcast and fast forward. The homework usualy took about an hour to hunt down the answers in the slides or do calculations--mostly BS anyway. P. Johnson was good because she actually knows sciences, and has a funny class. this was my least favorite class this semster due to the course, not her specifically. i hope that the administration will revamp frontiers significantly in the next year, as it is now, no one really learns anything, as far as i can tell, but my clas also had a few people who didn't know what the hell was going on, so i guess it's variable. it was easy to hold around a 97% in this class, due to grammar errors in the midterm essay.

Nov 2009

Although Frontiers is a silly class, this professor is very accesible and willing to help. I don't know how much she actually gets the information across to other people, but she is definitely there to answer your questions. The discussion section she leads is prety average, and I think most of the problems could be attibuted to the stupidity of the course, and not really a reflection of the teacher. She does give you until Friday morning to put the WIA's in her mailbox, which is a blessing and a curse. It's good if you're really cramped with work, but bad because you will most probably end up procrastinating (right now I'm a case in point) and hanging out with a WIA on thirsty Thursday.

Nov 2009

Summer Ash, Wow. Worst teacher ever. The class is terrible and a joke, but that's beside the point because we take it. Anyway, do yourself a favor and switch out if you get her. I decided to not do the homework after a while because (as some other posters have mentioned) it was pretty difficult and totally unrelated to the lecture or seminar with Summer. She doesn't grade based on effort for homework, just if you got it right or not. In fact, one of my friend's (econ major) used calc to solve a problem and she didn't give him credit because it wasn't what she taught in class. She'll pretend to offer you a lot of help outside of class, but don't be fooled into thinking she'll look favorably on you for your seeking the extra help. And besides that, she's just not a good a teacher so it's totally not worth it. Her social skills are terrible in general. She acts like a robot and if someone makes a joke she looks at other people's reaction so she can gauge whether or not it would be appropriate to let out a slight smirk.

Nov 2009

Throughout this course, I held a strong and thorough appreciation for the subjects we were learning about. When it came to Astronomy, I found fascinating the idea of Andromeda being the only galaxy coming towards us, I found the idea of Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation to be an undeniable proof for the Big Bang Theory. I enjoyed the earth sciences, the quantum mechanics and chemistry, the neuroscience, but unfortunately, my grades just didn't reflect this. Every week, I put at least two to three hours or more on the homeworks, doing them intuitively where possible, and even then, I was given failing grades. It was after being patient and receiving three straight 60's on the homework with nothing but checks or x's on them that I approached Summer about what was going on. I found it unreasonable that she would fail a student who showed thorough work but did not get the right answers on questions that were so strongly mathematically oriented (especially astronomy). Even with office hours, Summer was often very vague and at times questioned whether or not I went to lecture even though I had made it clear that I did, nor would she hesitate to mention her undergraduate experience at Stanford and how it was just a good ol' time. I am sorry to wreck on a teacher so hard, but if you have her, do not look at it as a challenge, you can learn just as much through other teachers who are more active and contributory to their field. It is great when a teacher grades meticulously, because that is when a student learns the most, but when a teacher grades like this without offering proper guidance on how to progress as a student in their class, then get out, it is simply unfair.

Oct 2009

Eliza is a down-to-Earth person that knows what she's talking about. She's pretty young which is great cause she connects so easily with the students in her class. Frontiers of Science may be boring as a whole, but she really tries to make it refreshing and keep us focused on the topics. She's extremely helpful when you have a question and she makes sure that you understand the concept before moving on.

Sep 2009

Professor Menke is very knowledgeable about what he teaches, and when stumped by a question will look up a topic between classes. He schedules ample time for pre-exam review, and is always happy to answer questions outside of class. However, he's not a very engaging teacher. In fact, he's rather boring. To be fair, it's not all his fault--Frontiers is a difficult class to teach--but if you want a fulfilling Frontiers experience, you're probably better off in another section. If you don't, stick with Bill; he only assigns every other problem set.

Aug 2009

About the class in general: Frontiers of Science, in general, is an ill-conceived, poorly-executed class. Science people are frustrated at the inane pseudo-science projects (create a made-up planet? really?) and non-science people stumble over the math and barely-explained equations. The worst of both worlds. The class attempts to combine scientific "current events" along with teaching a handful of random "scientific" skills and thinking processes, and ends up coming out a mess of disparate topics. The best decision I ever made was to never attend lecture. The two-hour recitation made me want to slit my wrists over and over, and god save you if you get stuck with an idiot group for a project. But, you need to take this class, so sorry freshman. About him as a section leader: He writes the exams. With that in mind, it is rather useful having him as a section leader, since he 1] knows exactly what is on them (and gives useful tips) and 2] is invested in you doing well. He is knowledgeable and passionate, although the general horror of the class tainted my love for him as a section leader. But anyway, he is decent and will perhaps make the experience mildly less painful than other section leaders.

Jun 2009

So I switched out of another section into David's due to a scheduling conflict and ended up missing the first session. I emailed him about it and he sent me a long email explaining everything he'd covered in the first seminar and his thoughts on what this course should help us accomplish by the end. I was quite surprised but that has been David's approach throughout this course. He is approachable, always willing to help out and really, really enthusiastic about whatever he is discussing (even when he may not agree with the lecturers or buy some hypotheses!) Frontiers of Science can be a real drag, but David made it a fun class. He sought to encourage discussions about science and society, different ramifications of what we were studying and the open and critical thinking attitude necessary for studying what truly are the fringes and frontiers of science in this day and age. His presentations were awesome (he'd add random classic rock songs, show us YouTube videos etc) and he made the in-class activities engaging. He did comprehensive reviews for all the units, and put them up on Courseworks to help us review. He helped so much with anything and everything in this class! If you get a chance to choose your Frontiers professor, I would definitely recommend David!

May 2009

I entirely agree with the previous review, not only did she not know what she was talking about, but she would give random, out of the air explanations for questions she didn’t know the answer to, which was pretty funny to watch, since a lot of the people in the class are either taking science classes, or are even science majors. The quizzes were ridiculous, since she would list 2-3 correct answers, and consider the only incorrect one as the most correct choice. She is completely incompetent to teach this course, and all semester she raves on how she is “pro A”, but her grading is entirely random. She has no curve, and when you talk to her, she gives you the “oh don’t worry you are doing fine” speech, but what she actually gives you, does not resemble her semester-long ramble about how she wants everyone to get an A. In summary, some of the people from class would do a better job at teaching the material, at least they wouldn’t construe their own imaginative explanations to scientific facts just because they don’t know the actual answer.

May 2009

Your lucky if you Sid as your frontiers section leader. Some professor just stand there and don't go over anything; they really don't help the students learn or understand anything that happened in lecture. Sid is really good at explaining what is flying in this class. If you go to her before class she helps you with the homeworks. Also, you hand your homeworks in after she goes over them, so you are basically guaranteed a 100 on the homeworks. Without Sid I would not have gotten an A in this ridiculous class.

Apr 2009

I cannot imagine being subjected to a worse class than Frontiers. Although Merry is "nice" that is another way of saying she was totally oblivious, had no control over the class, and often struggled to communicate basic points. She was so nice because she was overmatched. It was very difficult to understand the basic mechanics of her class and seminars were a complete joke. Her powerpoints were unhelpful as were her lectures. She speaks with an accent and seems proficient enough but when you actually stop and try to focus on what she is saying it is pure gibberish strung together that makes absolutely no sense. It wasn't uncommon for people do to everything but work in her class and her instructions and explanations for even the most basic of things was a chore. Having left the entire class inadequately prepared for both the midterm and final, Merry would deliver an incoherent rally speech in which she would state that she was pro A. She never once taught us any of the info for the exam and seemed to suggest that we just walk into the test room and essentially bull shit our answers using backdoor tricks and SAT style question manipulation. When it came time to grade the exams she was overly harsh and refused to curve the exams. I know Merry is intelligent and she is pleasant enough, to the point of having a polite sort of condescension. But she has no business being in any sort of class room, save for maybe a Geology class, which is her field. She admitted that she had learned the material recently and boy did it show...even the rock unit was as incomprehensible as everything else. In short, stay away, and if you have the misfortune of being placed in this class demand a tuition voucher from the university as this class is a waste of money and perhaps the worst classroom experience you will have in your academic career. This class should be striken from everyone's transcript for good measure and eliminated from the core.

Apr 2009

Ana is the best. She manages to teach to multiple levels of students at the same time. She did a chem doctorate on chirality and really knows her science but is also good at simplifying the lecture material and working with you until you understand a concept. Ana is always upbeat about a class that excites few people (I found this to be a big plus and actually enjoyed her class quite a lot). If you happen to get her for discussion, consider yourself very lucky. If you didn't, switch in!

Apr 2009

The Menk man is an absolute legend. Every other person that I knew taking frontiers at the same time as me was stuck doing twice as much work and being twice as bored in seminar. He is a really nice guy with hilarious stories and he is always willing to chat after class about anything. He holds incredibly useful reviews before the midterm and final and grades both pretty fairly/easily.

Jan 2009

Hey, previous people...I though Melnick was pretty good. You guys should have just focused on your assignments when you were doing them and you would have been find. Basically, Frontiers of Science is not really about Science. It is actually your ability to roughly write down anything on an exam that mentions something you have learned. Then you will be fine. All you non-science people, do not worry. When you are doing something hard, it is not a big deal, mostly because it won't be on the exam - seriously.

Jan 2009

Eliza's an awesome professor. She's young and she likes to joke around. Great personality. For FoS discussion, it isn't that hard to sit through. She's really good at explaining and clearing things up. Compared to other section leaders, she may be a little "tougher". She's a harsher grade on the assignments, but it's relative because it is curved. Plus, she's easily accessible - shoot her an e-mail and she'll get right back to you. Grade - Do well on homework assignments, midterm, and final. That's really it. Eliza's a fun prof and you'll learn some stuff in the process. Groovy

Jan 2009

OK, everyone knows Frontiers is crap, but having Beth isn't so bad. She's very friendly and her Australian-ness is a lot of fun (she brought us "fairy bread" once: buttered bread with sprinkles). Just get through Frontiers and be nice to Beth.

Jan 2009

Sadly one of my favorite classes last semester was FoS and that was partly due to my boring schedule and partly to Nicolas. He's a brilliant, fun, insightful, and lively teacher who does try to make an already woeful class as painless as possible. You get used to his slight accent after awhile. He explains all the material over in class, which is very good as review because you do forget all the material in the lectures even if you were paying attention just because the method of lecturing is horrendous. He grades the WIAs and the midterm/final fairly, although nothing is rly curved. Go to the Frontiers helproom if you find yourself struggling because it does help a lot and the WIAs are worth 40% of your grade, a big booster if you do well on all of them. For science majors, in fact anyone with frontiers lectures: Although you will hit yourself over the head when you are lectured by Pollack on baby genetics that you learned freshman yr of high school in a confusing manner using bad analogies (which is apparently to help the nonscience majors who don't get it anyway just because he's that bad at explaining) It WILL get better after Helfand comes onto the scene and you do actually learn something in the end. On that note, frontiers of science still has major kinks that need to be worked out.

Jan 2009

Very nice and approachable. Digests the 1.5 hour, rambling lecture into very organized, clear powerpoint presentation that lasts about 20 minutes. Makes sure we all understand everything before moving on to next point. Is clearly interested in the material and tries to spark our interest by tying in modern day examples. The grading can be a bit picky at times but overall I found it fair. No complaints if I did well. Prepares us well for the midterms and final by giving us problems to solve (which we go over).

Jan 2009

It's true the course sucks but at least Professor Melnick was a good seminar instructor. He would spend at least a half hour of each seminar reviewing the lecture details and answering questions. It was great if you needed the review, but otherwise it seemed like doing the same thing twice. He was always very open to questioning, and would inquire with another professor if he didn't know an answer. More than anything else, what made the class bearable was that he was very approachable and was always willing to go further into a particular area or explain something in detail. Through his sometimes amusing anecdotes it became apparent that he is really passionate about his field. It seems strange that he would take time out of the many things he does in order to teach a required first year class. It's too bad Frontiers itself is such a disaster.

Jan 2009

Matt is a great FoS leader. He helps you figure out problems and he isn't that tough a grader. It's not the most exciting 2 hours of your life, but I don't think that's Matt's fault. He gives you lots of candy.

Dec 2008

Frontiers of Science is frontiers of science. There is no other explanation and its mandatory so suck it up and take it. It's not awful, especially with David Kagan. He's very amiable and accessible (by email and office hours) and extremely willing to help out if you ever have any questions. He often brings outside sources into the classroom which help to clarify material, and he always made sure to focus on the most difficult topics so as to iron out questions. The activities were occasionally a bit lame, but they always helped you to understand. This class reminded me a lot of high school science, with less focus on the technical aspects of science. Definitely a good teacher in this mash-up of a course.

Dec 2008

Ana is great! She has an enthusiastic, extremely fast-paced lecture style, but will immediately slow down or stop if someone is having difficulty. Her classes actually made frontiers of science tolerable - almost fun! (almost, because can you really have fun with an astronomy unit?) She is very lenient with homework assignments and other graded work - in the sense that she understands how everyone may not be a science whiz and may not grasp every concept right away. As long as you are putting forth your absolute best work, she will help you with any problem areas and give you the best grade she can. Be grateful if you have Ana! She is brilliant, and truly a great teacher!

Dec 2008

Ana was great! She was really very helpful, always went out of her way to make herself available and gave lots of hints where the frontiers material was a bit vague. The sections are a bit boring, but this isn't her fault. She does her best to try to keep the material as lively as possible and her grading is very, very lenient.

Dec 2008

She made the class fun. If you seek out extra help from her, she'll be happy to give it and will be impressed that you took the time to ask for the help. I like her a lot! She's young, and I could relate to her... I actually liked her as a person, not just a professor.

Dec 2008

I believe she is a teaching fellow, and this was her first time teaching Frontiers. She was very friendly and willing to help, as well as willing to admit her own mistakes. She either knew more about the last half of the course, or was more prepared to teach it; although she wasn't especially knowledgeable the first part of the semester, she definitely improved by the end. She seemed to gain confidence as the semester progressed. She was a fair grader and described herself as "pro-A." We didn't do much in seminar, but that was mostly because the Frontiers seminar activities are fairly pointless. Seminar was pretty boring, but she seemed like a fun, positive person. She was also good at reviewing for the midterm, in terms of focusing on what material would be on it. Considering that Frontiers is probably not going to be a particularly interesting or life-changing experience in any section, I would recommend her.

Dec 2008

worst teacher of my life let alone my college career! never taught anything right, never knew any of the materials, and wasn't fair on the grading! terrible terrible teacher. run far far away even if it means a 6PM section for frontiers discussion.

Dec 2008

Don't get me wrong, Bobby P is a really nice guy. He brought us candy and snacks every week because he understood the afternoon slump of a 4:10-6 pm class. He may've been thinking that he was doing us a favor by not grading our homeworks, instead it just put more pressure on class participation. This meant that classmates tried to explain their answers to the class, which wasn't always helpful to people like me who just didn't get it. He did his best to be available to answer questions, however, with no office hours, it was hard to track him down. If you take his class, his email is your best friend. I would recommend that you do the extra credit paper because your grade is comprised of participation (out of 40 points that he abritrarily dishes out), the midterm, and the final. Although he was pretty harsh at grading the midterm, he was very open to the idea of looking over it to make sure that he hadn't made any mistakes.

Dec 2008

Jeno was the one good thing to come out of this sham of a class. She gave you back full points on your homework if you came to her office hours to discuss it with her, and she didn't mind if you didn't participate one bit. She is to thank for my good grade regardless of interest in the class, and she seemed to also realize that the class was a joke. In terms of Frontiers itself, don't go to lecture, it's a waste of time, and it's not actually very difficult if you download the lectures the night before the midterm/final. It's just a waste of life, basically. Have fun.

Dec 2008

Professor Gill was so nice and made class really enjoyable. He was very understanding and graded pretty easily. Overall, great section to be in!

Dec 2008

Beth is a pretty good seminar leader, compared to the horror stories I heard. To be quite honest Frontiers sucks as a class overall, I hate that it is a part of the core. I myself am not a math or science person at all. And Beth's grading can be pretty tough and the material can be overwhelming. I will give her this...she is very approchable and flexible in finding time to meet with you. I wish I had more time so that I could actually show up to her office hours. She grades the homework a little hard, but its usually shorter than other classes' assignments. I really wish I knew what was going on with the material in this course half the time. Beth was pretty interesting, even when the material was boring she tried to make it fun. Overall if you get her you are lucky to have an fun seminar leader who has a cool Australian accent...but she can be an extremley tough grader.

Dec 2008

Ana is the best Frontiers teacher you can get. If you're going to suffer through the course, suffer with Ana every week. Not only is she the nicest, warmest teacher you can have, but she makes sure that her students really understand the material and will do everything she can to help you. Go to her office hours; she will walk you through the homework and make sure you understand everything before you leave. Before the midterm and final she focuses on what is important for the tests so that you know the material better than all your friends. By the end of the semester you feel as if Ana is your best friend rather than your teacher. Thank your lucky stars for having Ana; SHE IS THE BEST.

Dec 2008

Prof. Kagan was an amazing seminar leader and I was really happy with him. He is a really fun guy who loves science and makes it interesting. He is a fair grader and really reviews the material learned in lecture nicely. So much so that the lectures no longer became necessary to go to because he would do a fantastic job reviewing. I really really liked him and if you want a great guy, this is him!

Dec 2008

I did not care for this class and Summer did not help. She did not explain things clearly and expected a stronger science background than most people had. I'm pretty sure she cares that you are doing well, but I was never comfortable around her. It also doesn't help that she doesn't have a strong biology background. She admitted to taking high school biology, but nothing since then. When I would ask about complicated terms or ideas, she could recite what was mentioned in lecture or the reading, but she was not aware of much more than that. The most annoying part what the tone. I felt as if everything was punitive. She grades things very closely. The homeworks have scores (not generally very high) and the midterm was brutal. After she returned the midterm she refused to talk about them. I have no idea about a mean, median, standard deviation, curve or anything going into the final. Some people in the class like her, but most dislike the class and really dislike the section.

Dec 2008

Bob Pollack is very intelligent and very kind. If you ask him a question, he will tell you everything you wanted to know and much more. He encourages people to ask questions and make comments. He doesn't even grade the WIAs at all. Your grade consists pretty much entirely of participation. Also, he brings in candy to every class. The class was boring, but it wasn't his fault. He was just teaching such inane material that his venerable set of talents could not fully be brought to bear.

Dec 2008

Beth is an interesting professor with a fun Australian accent who acts enough like a kid that you won't be too bored in class. Frontiers as a course sucks but Beth isn't too bad at doing seminar. She seemed to grade a little tougher than some of the other professors but that may be because she went over the material pretty well in seminar so she expected more. I've heard much worse things about other people's professor so I think Beth turned out to be a pretty good choice. She is very approachable and not intimidating at all so if you don't understand something you can ask her very easily. However, her curve is not very generous so you might actually have to understand the material to do well. Hope that you don't get a very good group.

Aug 2008

Linda Sohl is possibly the most uninteresting and unenthusiastic teacher I have ever had in my entire life. To top that off, she knew little more than the students about topics addressed in Frontiers; consequently, she could do very little to help us on the weekly assignments. When we had questions about the lectures, she would either look the questions up online the night before or ask her colleagues, and then waste an hour and a half of class time with lengthy explanations to each question which we could have just googled ourselves. Sohl took little interest in our work as students and we didn't receive some papers back until long after the midterm, even after repeated requests. She was a lazy grader-- Divided the class into 4 groups for a major project and failed 2 of them because she decided she didn't need to bother with considering consistent error in mathematical calculations. The midterms took her nearly two months to grade, which is completely unacceptable. Our entire class went into the final ludicrously unprepared. Linda Sohl is a nice lady and a god-awful teacher. Avoid her at all costs.

May 2008

Ana rocks. Ana was pretty easy going. She understands that students are forced to take the class and the material could at times be boring so if you space out or fall asleep she won't hold it against you. She tries to make the assignments as easy as possible and if you email her the night before its due asking for help she'll basically give you the answers. She is also always willing to make additional appointments beyond her office hours to meet with students. She explains the material pretty well and prepares you for the midterm and final. Overall, good teacher and a good way to harmlessly get through frontiers.

May 2008

Alison is a very engaging teacher with an obvious wealth of knowledge. This section of Frontiers was great, and everyone in the class really benifited. At one point, for example, we were discussing the wave particle duality of the electron and she presented a really good animation to illustrate the principle. She was also very available for help outside the classroom and with particular concerns.

Apr 2008

It is not Jeno's fault that Frontiers is the most worthless class at this university. However, in spite of the ridiculous horrible nature of this course, Jeno made it actually interesting. On each homework assignment she let us go talk to her and she would give us all our points back, and she is extremely accessible to go over any topics you might have missed (which makes lecture completely unnecessary). She's also brilliant, so she knows what she's talking about.

Mar 2008

Don Hood is a great section leader. He did an excellent job explaining all the topics covered during lecture. He was a fairly easy grader when it came to the WIAs (Weekly Individual Assignments). These assignments were anything but individual. He actually encouraged us to work with our classmates on them. He was a fair grader on the exams and an overall easy-going guy.

Feb 2008

This class was a nightmare. The course itself has interesting content but is ruined by the way it is taught. Professor Pollack is clearly a very intelligent man but he made the two hour seminar seem like it lasted for years. There was little or no discussion, he just talked, and talked...and talked. The WIAs seem like a waste of time and the exam is only barely related to everything you learn all semester. Pollacks grading was obscure. We never found out what we got on our WIAs and his final grades seemed unfair, despite his promises he would try and be as lenient as he could.

Jan 2008

Jeno is the best Frontiers teacher, period. You will not find a more helpful and knowledgeable seminar leader. The lectures and material can get dull, but Jeno keeps the class interesting. She is also very helpful outside of class, holding frequent office hours. She is a fair and easy grader and a nice person and general. Jeno is a keeper.

Jan 2008

I had enough bad luck to have her as a instructor during fall 2007, but was astonished to see that she's been teaching for at least two years - i thought mine was the first class she'd ever taught. she's Incredibly unprepared, in terms of knowledge of the material - she knew even less than the students who actually did the reading. First semester would have been a perfect experience, had I not taken this agonizingly boring, permanently awkward seminar. While the ridiculous FoS lectures could become bearable and perhaps even interesting from time to time, the obligatory seminar with Sharmila has make it hard for me to forgive the inventors of FoS

Dec 2007

Sid was my discussion leader and I was underwhelmed. She will know your name after one class and she really wants everyone to do well, but she is pretty boring and explains things about a hundred times, which can be perfect or agony, depending on your science background. On the bright side, she goes over the WIAs in class BEFORE you hand them in, giving you a chance to correct them in marker before you hand them in, basically guaranteeing all perfect WIA scores. She is not good at explaining topics outside of her field (geology).

Dec 2007

When it comes to Frontiers, there are two types of students: students who hate Frontiers, and students who had Stuart Gill. That's all that needs to be said. If you get this guy, consider yourself EXTREMELY lucky.

Dec 2007

Professor Keimowitz is amazing. She made FoS worth attending. She's approachable, helpful and seems to be genuinely interested in trying to make the class work for you.

Sep 2007

This is a little late because I had Eleni a while back. If you hate Frontiers of Science or if you have trouble understanding the material, being in Eleni's class will surely make it worse. Although she is a very nice person, she (like most of the Frontiers section leaders) knows nothing about the material being taught in lectures. She mostly cannot answer anyone's questions and always promises to look them up for next week, which she never does. I think she realizes that Frontiers is on the most hated list, so she does attempt to liven up class sessions with little activities (some in groups) that keep people from falling asleep. If you don't participate, she will harass you with her niceness in an attempt to salvage your grade (I realize this doesn't sad like a bad thing, but believe me, it gets old fast). If you're lucky, you'll get a class in which a third of the people are snitty little compulsive talkers who dominate the class and distract her for an hour. Or maybe you are that person; in which case, the rest of us dearly thank you.

May 2007

A DISASTER! Jenna is a terrible teacher (and person), and only because of her my experience in Frontiers was horrendous. She is a terrible teacher, doesn't know anything about any of the topics of Frontiers, and she is a very hard grader. I don't want to waste my time, so STAY AWAY from her.

May 2007

As a disclaimer, I am a non-science person and actually enjoyed Frontiers of Science. Jacqueline is a really serious scientist in her own right, but in the classroom she was engaging and funny. Most importantly, she actually would stop to address every single dumb question when someone needed help. She is one of the few instructors I visited for office hours, and as in class, she was always ready to help no matter how elementary my qestions were (or how soon before the exam). From what I've heard about other Frontiers section instructors, Jacqueline is an extremely lucky catch. But as with any class, you get what you give.

May 2007

As Frontiers seminar leaders go, you could do worse than a Nobel Prize-wining physicist. Horst’s section is very laid back; basically all you do is go over lecture questions and discuss them. This leads to a few issues, though: we never started the assignment we were supposed to do in seminar until there were only 20 minutes left in the period, and then we'd have to rush through the activity so quickly that it was hardly worth doing at all. Horst also doesn't take the time to talk about the little things that are most important for Frontiers - it took a lot of wheedling to get him to explain in simple terms how to do a Gaussian distribution because he assumed that we knew how to do it already. Horst is great one-on-one (if you’re having trouble, just go to his office hours every week – you’ll get 20/20 on WIAs every time), but not for a large group; I felt very unprepared for the midterm because of how we spent our time in class. He's a nice person and occasionally hilarious, but you might get the most out of Frontiers (which isn't going to be a lot either way, let's face it) with another section leader.

May 2007

Rachna made froniters a survivable class. She made sure to explain each lecture VERY CLEARLY and held GREAT reviews before the midterm and the final. She was always available in her office and responded quickly to emails. If you have her for froniters consider yourself lucky!!!

Apr 2007

First of all, as a science major in Columbia College, I was warned that Frontiers of Science does not favor our science background at all. In fact, it might be to our disadvantage that we already know some science. I was kind of doubting such pessimistic views when I first started taking Frontiers last semester. I mean, how difficult could the class really be? But oh my was I wrong! It was not only impossible for me to digest everything that Frontiers of Science threw at me during their tedious long lectures where most people choose to sleep, but on top of it all, Goldstein was a terrible, absolutely terrible teacher. I had no idea why I did not transfer to another class but remained in Goldstein's class. But I wish I did because I learned nothing! He is the type of teacher who probably knows a lot but can't find a way to teach it to the students effectively. He is really awkward to talk to. He is terse as well. So if you go up to him to ask for an explanation, he will give you a best a one sentence answer. You will be sitting there, looking at this man and wonder to yourself how much more awkward and frustrating this class is. What is even worse about Goldstein is that he actually grades the midterms and finals as if they are senior thesis! He even takes off points for a bonus question which is suppose to help you out. What kind of teacher does that do his students? And he also plays favorites, which should only happen in high schools. If you have Goldstein as your professor, you should first hit yourself on the head for having terrible luck and then try to run away from him as fast as possible. He might look harmless at firs. but the more classes you go to, the worse he becomes. In the end, you just want to sit down and cry. Don't be that freshman who did terrible in Frontiers because of a bad teacher!

Mar 2007

He knows his stuff, and if he doesn't, tells you he doesn't. I find him somewhat apathetic and disinterested in discussion however, which is sad because the passion displayed in lecture should be mimicked in the discussion. The different frontiers we learn about are truly amazing, and I just wish he was able to show some passion for science. Otherwise a very approachable prof.

Jan 2007

I love this woman! She is so nice and I learned so much from her! If you can take her class, do it!

Jan 2007

Pepa is a biologist. He knows very little about the topics presented in Frontiers of Science. But that doesn't stop him! He keeps the class overtime to speak in an extremely boring monotone. Luckily the class is silent; you'll have no problem listening to him talk about the thousands of slides he presents while your stomach growls (the class is at 6 to 8). Like the other classes, Pepa makes you email him questions from Frontiers questions. Probably unlike other sections, however, Pepa categorizes questions into four different types. This system allows him to assign a maximum of points per assignment as determined by category; a category A question can only get 6 out of 10 points. This class was so bad it was surreal. He calmly attempts to discuss what a planet is while you are crying inside and remembering your reading of Dickens' Hard Times. Your grade is based on a shitload of points, actually around a thousand possible points. Like other classes, Pepa allows extra credit to assume 5 percent of your grade. Unlike other classes, five of the suggested projects from other classes are needed to get these points. He will remind you with a smile and wave of his man-ponytail, that grading is arbitrary, fuzzy, nothing can be known. But we will talk about it in great detail. for two fucking hours. Kind of like frontiers of science. By the way, Pepa is not this man's real name. He asks you to call him by it, it sounds like Papa. He says, "my name is Josef Lazar but I would like you to call me Pepa. Like Salt- n-pepa" (Silence from the class).

Jan 2007

Professor Van Gorkom is a delight. She's smart (very very smart actually, if you ever get a chance to look into what she studies) funny, kind and totally dedicated to making frontiers as painless as possible. She even brought out a genuine interest in astronomy in me, a dedicated literature/philosophy major. If you can wrangle it, get into her section!

Jan 2007

If you have Sid for Fro. Sci, count your lucky stars. She is a kind professor who genuinely cares about her students. While her lecturing style can be hard to follow, she's good in a small class/ one-one environment. Go to her office hours - she will review the homework with you if you have questions, which not only improves your homework grade, but you'll find yourself far better prepared for the midterm and final. Additionally, she is great with review sessions before the major exams. Frontiers of Science is what it is (I still have yet to meet anyone who actually enjoyed it) but we all have to take it, so consider yourself very fortunate if you wind up in Sid's class.

Jan 2007

A very nice woman who is very available after class and for extra help. She knows astronomy very well and makes an effort to answer all lecture questions, if she doesn't know the answer she asks another expert. She is very responsive over email.

Jan 2007

Jenna is a terrible teacher. My experience in Frontiers was horrific partly because the class is terrible, and partly because she is a horrible teacher. She knew nothing about any of the topics which we covered, and often deferred to more knowledgable students in class to answer "hard" questions. She never grades anything and didn't answer a single lecture question after the first one. This could be used to your advantage, however--if she doesn't return the work, you can't be expected to get any better. There are more examples of her incompetence, but I don't want to waste my time listing them. Suffice it to say, the class is mindlessly easy and just hang in there! It will be over soon.

Jan 2007

Alison Keimowitz was a very good section leader. She was able to break down the major points from each Monday lecture during my Thursday Frontiers discussion section with her. She is always able to answer questions, both inside the class and during her office hours. I would contend that she puts a lot of effort into teaching this class though, like the many other teachers, she has a ton of research she is working on, on the side. All in all, Alison is a recommended leader. I hear of the other ones who are terribly boring and uninsightful and mean. Alison actually makes it a point to laugh at the jokes kids make, even if the jokes are downright terrible and stupid. She makes sure that the learning environment is a good one.

Dec 2006

Great guy and good teacher, but his grading system was incomprehensible. He gave E, F, or P on all graded work which we all assumed to be equivalent to excellent, fair, and poor, respectively. In my case, he gave me all E's except for one assignment where I got a F and an A-range midterm and final. I participated and even did the extra credit and still ended up with an A- for the course, which makes little sense. He said that he would not try and grade against you but it's almost apparent that he did. It's a required class and my personal feeling is that in required classes, the grading system should be more lenient--Frontiers requires each teacher to curve the midterm and final to a mean of 80, which is harsh by almost anyone's standard.

Dec 2006

Well-intentioned, hard-working professor. Knows a lot about astrophysics and the astronomy unit. Discussion section is generally powerpoints and worksheets. Weekly homeworks (relatively easy) accompanied by tedious readings (unnecessary). You can get by without reading Habits of Mind if you know some statistics stuff, standard error, probability etc.

Dec 2006

Frits Paerels led a really easy and relaxed Frontiers of Science discussion section. Yes, most people will find this class incredibly boring but I personally didn't find it that bad. After all, discussion is only once a week and if you pay attention during lecture you will learn something no matter how good you already are at science. Anyway, Frits is an extremely kind, helpful man who assigned little homework and was extremely generous with grading. However, his discussion section is not particularly informative and I never really felt that the lectures were significantly clearer after going through discussion (this may be because the lectures are already quite clear).

Dec 2006

Sharmila's pedagogical incompetence warrants a court injunction against her appearing in front of a classroom ever again. A typical seminar goes as follows: she, a short, quiet Indian woman with a thick and obfuscatory accent, lectures for a few minutes. When she sees the class getting discouraged, she berates herself for her inability to energize the class (either internally, or once externally), causing a downward spiral of depression for everyone in the room, as there are still roughly 100 minutes left in seminar. Worksheets, asking questions more fit for a fifth-grader in special ed (or an athlete), are disseminated and disposed of in a few minutes, except for in groups comprised of athletes or perfectionist pedants, where they are drawn out over absurd spans of time. Sharmila makes the rounds of the cramped, windowless room, upbraiding students for their idleness, not realizing that they have finished her infuriatingly simplistic worksheets ten minutes ago. Another worksheet is given and finished in short order, and the process is repeated ad nauseam, or at least until the short break. More excruciating lecturing and pedantic self-indulgence follows, and the clock crawls to salvation, what seems like five hours after it all started. Not all of the blame should be placed upon Sharmila's shoulders for my horrific experience, though. Frontiers is the kind of pseudo-intellectual bullshit that one expects to see at a third-tier, underfunded community college, and everyone knows it. Enduring it at Columbia is the equivalent of paying $5000 to read popular science magazines, and it's a travesty that Helfand and his minions have become too entrenched and delusional to realize the blindingly obvious fact that applying the principles of the Core to modern science instruction is utterly fallacious. Nevertheless, I don't think I would be so unabashedly embittered had my seminar not been so miserable, and - even in light of the preponderance of profoundly moronic athletes, apathetic mediocrities, and enthusiastic sycophants in my section - it was ultimately Sharmila's fault. What does this mean for you, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed freshmen? If - God forbid - you're preregistered for her section like I was, first verify that it's her whom you have. Switching seminars is ridiculously hard, but for your sake TRY TO GET OUT. If you can't concoct an elaborate enough excuse to fool the Core office, then you're stuck, which isn't necessarily too awful of a thing after the fact, because you'll realize without a tinge of opacity how absurd Frontiers is, and you'll probably also be able to come away with a grade of A or A+. It's a painful road to travel, though, so bring a good book, a TI-83 with games, and a bottle of screwdriver or vodka-cran to every seminar. You're going to need them.

Dec 2006

Alison is a great instructor. She is sweet and you can tell that she really cares about her class. The Monday lectures are terrible but you really don't need to go to them for this section. The class can drag on at times but it's what you should expect from any FOS section! There is a lot of group work which reminded me of busy work from high school, but the overall class was o.k. Alison was always available, and easy to talk to. The only downfall is that she is an extremely hard grader. Don't expect to get perfect scores on Weekly assignments and if you want full credit on lecture questions you better write a full-page response to your question.

Dec 2006

Pepa was a very very poor teacher. He often would look at slides presented in Frontiers lecture and declare them too difficult to explain. He was unresponsive to students and often giggled when students expressed frustration with the class. He did not explain how to do ANY of the work, and was not capable of communicating well with the class. In many classes when he ran out of Frontiers material to cover he diverged into topics that were not helpful to Frontiers at all (he told us they were not) instead of simply letting us leave class early. When students complained about class and asked for small changes, he refused to change anything with consent from higher-ups at staff meetings--and then told us he didn't think the changes we wanted were worth even asking about. RUN AWAY FROM PEPA. Frontiers discussion section was absolute hell.

Dec 2006

Even though Frontiers is a crappy class overall, Goldstein manages to make it interesting. He doesn't waste a lot of time with stupid and pointless activities. In fact, he summarizes the lectures and explains them in ways that we can understand (which is nice when the main lecturer isn't as good.) He is accessible, and makes a lot of resources available to his students via courseworks. And, he lowered the number of required lecture questions and dropped the lowest WIA. If you have him for Frontiers, you'll be set!

Dec 2006

I took her class Fall 2006. After reading some of the reviews on here, I think that she has been working to improve her technique. After all, it's not as if she teaches anything besides this class. I thought she did a good job explaining the lecture material. The only times that I had problems was because of the lectures themselves or my own laziness. Seminars often involved doing handouts in class in small groups. I wasn't a big fan of these, but they helped because they were somewhat similar to practice questions for the midterm/final. Sometimes we were able to decide what to do in class. This was very helpful because some lectures needed an extra review and some didn't. I think that she makes the material easy to understand, but I also have a propensity towards science.

Dec 2006

Alison is the best Frontiers of Science teacher ever! Not only is she thorough with explaining the information, she is funny, sweet, and a genuinely nice person! Her scientific knowledge is extremely impressive -- she was capable of explaining concepts in astronomy and climate and ecology with skipping a beat. She is strict but reasonable with the work you hand in, but it is for your own benefit (she prepares you well for the departmentalized midterm and final). If you do all the work and participate, you should do well. If you were assigned to Alison for FoS, consider yourself lucky.

Nov 2006

Kamat is a nice person, I think, but she lacks anything that even resembles a teaching method. She paces around the class talking non-stop about some abstract scientific concept that will never surface on any assignments or tests, occasionally chiding us for not speaking more. Sometimes, people do make an effort to get in a word edgewise, but they're always met with Kamat's confusion. She was completely blown away by some of the simplest, most basic questions (Is the final cumulative?) and, like other reviewers said, would then proceed to challenge us to answer the questions ourselves. I don't think she took attendance, but I was so terrified at the prospect of having to retake Frontiers that I didn't risk skipping the pointless seminars.

Aug 2006

He's one of the best you'll get from frontiers. He's nice, helpful, and will teach you something. It may not be too much, but that's not his fault. He'll do as much as he can with the course.

Jun 2006

So I know you don't really pick your section leaders for Frontiers, but Peter's not a bad leader if you are placed here. He's extremely enthusiastic about the Frontiers of Science program, so I guess that's a plus, although there's clearly a divide between his enthusiasm and the lack of it from the students. He's organized, he grades things promptly, and there're no extra assignments or anything. He does more than just reiterate the lectures; for example, our interest was piqued by artificial intelligence, so we just discussed that for a few weeks. However, his enthusiasm has a downside too. A lot of times the questions he asks are "Based on the readings for this week..." which means you actually have to read them (or at least skim). All in all, not a bad section leader taking into account that Frontiers, in general, is not a pleasant experience.

May 2006

He scared me at first because he randomly calls on people during discussion classes, but, he's actually quite easy going whether you know the answer or not. His discussion lectures can be boring, but a few were actually intriguing. He's very helpful in office hours, and a nice guy once you get past the initial intimidation. He's a much better teacher in office hours than in discussion, he can do a great job explaining things if you take the time to visit his office hours

May 2006

Eleni is a very smart woman and the course is interesting with her. However, she is a terrible grader who takes frontiers way too seriously. She gave out very few A-'s, especially to those students who aren't interested in the sciences. I received mostly A's and A-'s on all my discussion questions and WIAs and somehow i still managed to get a B+ in the class. Altogether, she takes the course way too seriously and gives out incredibly low grades considering this is a required course that few people want to be taking.

May 2006

If you get Damon as you're seminar leader, consider yourself VERY lucky. He's so helpful, and eager to teach, but he's also very "chill" and understanding. Go to his office hours, talk to him, he's a nice, intelligent guy, and makes FoS worth while

Apr 2006

Stuart Gill is by far the best Instructor I had this year. He's extremely laid back and friendly, and thus easy to talk to and get to know. His class consists mostly of delving deeper into the lecture material and working on Habits-related problems. Usually in-class we don't do much work, just kind of sit-back and listen to him, with the occasional problem being done. If you answer wrong, hes completely cool with it. He also likes to joke around a lot and is actually pretty funny. His class actually requires THINKING and READING of the lecture/text materials, but you never feel like you're doing busywork and the laidbackness is totally worth it. You can often even turn in assignments late, and he lets you write a one page essay on the topic of your own choosing to replace one of the homework assignments.

Apr 2006

No teacher could ever make Frontiers a 'good' class. Kerry made the class as not bad as possible though, especially for those not so strong in science. For those who get science and graphs and statistics easily, the discussion section could be quite boring, but I would imagine that it might be different for others. He repeated important point (standard deviation, etc...) over and over until everyone should get it, which I guess is good. He grades the problem sets fairly and they come with few surprises. He was a little unclear on what he wanted from our weekly discussion questions, but its not a big part of the grade (10%) and we figured it out after a few weeks. He is a huge stickler for punctuality to discussion sections, so be there on time!

Mar 2006

Frontiers of Science was a horribly stupid class to begin with. That being said, Goldstein was pretty fair. He wasn't organized (he took forever to hand back graded homework) and he was not very good at orchestrating discussion within the class. However,he did a decent job in reviewing important material from the lectures. He made good review slides and was good at going over "habits of mind" concepts that were not completely explained in the book and you were just kind of expected to know. Overall decent professor, and with experience will probably improve. His workload is annoyingly more than most other discussion sections.

Feb 2006

Jenna did a great job of breathing some life into a class that was otherwise unbearable for me. I fell asleep during almost every lecture, yet appreciated Jenna's discussion section. She tried her best to clarify any questions people about the material. She was a tough grader on the problem sets yet I felt prepared for the final. I don't know how I would have done in Frontiers if I hadn't had Jenna as a TA. She was reasonable, kind, and understanding.

Feb 2006

Good God. What can be said about Sharmila Kamat, other than "AHHHH!" She is a nice, kind person. However, you will learn absolutely nothing in her section. She could RARELY answer any of the questions put forth by our class, and frankly seemed rather intimidated while trying to come up with a response. Whenever she could not answer a question herself (which was about 90 percent of the time) she simply turned it on the class, and we stared back in wide wonder. Here is a scenario taken directly from my fourth discussion section with Sharmila: The entire class was really confused about sunspot magnetism. We kept asking questions about the concept, which she was utterly incapable of clarifying. Finally, after much commotion, she said, direct quote: "I can tell we are all really confused about this. I think we should just move on." (Stunned silence in the room, angst and tears on students' faces.) This is not a joke.

Jan 2006

Sharmila was the worst part of my first semester. Not only does she know absolutely NOTHING about the coursework, she is clearly very uncomfortable in front of a class and would rather be anywhere else. She made everyone feel awkward all the time and she was rude. I could not WAIT to get out of her class. Class time consisted of reading rediculously unrelated scienctific journal articles (which she liked to make about four copies of, total, for the whole class) and worksheets that were basically the same as the homework, which was a rediculous waste of time in itself. In general, Frontiers of Science is the most atrocious class I've sat through in my life, and was terribly run. If you get Sharmila, though, TRY and get out.

Jan 2006

Really nice lady, with a super cool accent. She is really flexible -- never hesitate to send her an e-mail if you need help or need time. Sometimes she gave answers out to problem sets. Too bad the class sucked, as a whole. Her problem set grading is harsh, especially compared to other sections, but in the end, you'll do fine in the class. Just ask questions, though -- otherwise you won't learn a thing.

Jan 2006

I agree with the other reviewers that Kerry is not an expert on all of the areas we discuss, but he does know his fair share and does teach very well. Regarding his grading: He grades the problem sets strictly, but will explain to you how to do any problems you are having trouble with. So, if you go over the problem sets with him after lecture, you can be assured good grades on them. Overall, he is a really nice guy and got me interested in the material. If you show up, talk a little in seminar, and ask him questions on the problem sets, you will get an A without much trouble.

Jan 2006

Eleni is awesome. She is very helpful and understanding. Definitely go to office hours if youre stuck on something. She is a very fair grader and you get what you put in. Just make a little effort and she will recognize it. Skim most of the readings, she likes to call on random students and ask them to comment. If youre lucky enough to get her, FOS will be as bearable as it can get.

Jan 2006

Dr. Hood is by far the best teacher I've had in my entire college career. He is brilliant, caring, funny, and down-to- earth, understanding that FroSci is not our only class. His grading is easy, and he makes the material interesting, but doesn't go too in-depth in the material (perfect for an intro science course). Also, he is one of the creators of the course, so he knows exactly what is to show up on the final. He is such an engaging teacher that I decided to major in neuroscience! If you are lucky enough to be in Dr. Hood's seminar, STAY!!!!

Dec 2005

Kerry is a great guy and he did a decent job with the material (as best he could anyway). The problem with Frontiers overall is that it's so broad that the section leaders invariably have to teach something out of their area of expertise. Sometimes I felt like we were learning some things as Kerry was learning them himself but that's not necessarily a bad thing. He is extremely dedicated and espescially helpful outside of class if you have any problems so don't be affraid to go to his office hours if you're having trouble. The only downside of this otherwise terrific teacher is the grades. I worked on the problem sets with people in other sections and my grades were always slightly lower than my study partners even though our work was pretty much identical. Given the fact that many of the other instructors were equally knowledgeable and helpful during office hours yet a little more generous with the grades it might pay to switch sections.

Dec 2005

Frontiers was an awful class... but it's not the fault of Professor Kamat. She definitely will try to help you if you seek her out. She was always willing to answer my questions when I went to her office hours, even though I often felt dumb because I struggle with math concepts. Sometimes she was difficult to understand and sometimes she didn't always understand what the students would say in class, but she is clearly intelligent and she would go over the problems at her office hours with me until I understood them. She also responds quickly to questions via email. The curriculum for the class is not especially interesting to non-science majors and the homework assignments were usually difficult (in my opinion) and didn't pertain to what was taught in the lecture. But none of this can be blamed on Kamat since she has no control over the curriculum. She's friendly and approachable--make an effort and show you care by asking for help when you need it and ye shall receive it.

Dec 2005

Melnick is a really cool guy. He is active in the international community and brings a great amount of prestige to the University at large. The seminars seem to be rather informal affairs and are not like other class environments to which I have been exposed. The material extremely interesting and engaging. The lectures seem to be a vaudeville type event and are accessible. The class is structured in an interesting way and delivers breadth without too much depth. Very good for non-science majors. Not recommended for science majors though. The assignments are quite manageable and in some cases enjoyable. You'll actually want to do the reading in some instances. Very recommendable class overall. Can get a little math heavy as they hammer out foreign concepts but definitely doable.

Dec 2005

Wow. Professor Helfand is the best section leader ever. He makes things interesting, answers the discussion questions well because he does research beforehand, and makes you feel like you're the only class he teaches when really, he's probably got more important things going on. A great man, and a great professor. Count your lucky stars if you get this guy as a discussion leader.

Dec 2005

Professor Kelley is one of my favorite professors that I have encountered thus far in my 2 years at Columbia. I was wary of the course going in, since I'm not too fond of science in general, but Darcy made the material come to life. Her genuine enthusiasm for the subject was contagious, and I found that soon I was even reading Science Times to read about the breaking science news. I can see how people with a strong science background might be frustrated with the course, since even I was bored at some points by the simple material that people still didn't seem to get. But, I bet that those people could gain a lot by talking to Darcy outside of the classroom, since she loves talking about science in general. The course itself did not involve much work. The problem sets were time consuming, but there were only 4 of them all semester. The readings are totally not necessary, but make sure you go to lecture since all the material from the problem sets will be presented there, and some of it even involves topics that the average science major won't be totally familiar with (quantum mechanics, etc.). If you get assigned to Darcy's section, you will get a lot out of it - just go in with an open mind about science.

Oct 2005

Agree he's bad at leading classroom discussion (esp outside of physics) but he's amazingly helpful & accessible during office hours. Clearly loves the material, is super supportive, and clearly wants you to understand & enjoy the topics. Frontiers has some general structural problems--the best way to get around this is OFFICE HOURS & the extra weekly Helfand group review sessions.

Sep 2005

Dr. Chaky is a cool guy. He loves this class, and he puts as much effort as possible into making it interesting and fun for everybody. Damon always answers our questions and makes himself easily accessible in case we need help. So, if you get put in his seminar, you lucked out.

Sep 2005

Really, spring '05 Sharmila was sooo much better than the earlier reviewers mentioned--she probably changed her ways because of negative feedback from the course evals from that semester! anyways, sharmila really made sure that everyone, EVERYONE in the class understood what was going on, PARTICULARLY what was going to be covered on problem sets and the final. she really is a sweet woman and wants to make sure everyone gets the most out of the class. she is also very available outside class and answers emails really quickly--during study days she left my graded problem set for me with the guard at butler for me to pick it up to use to study! she really was pleasant, and i recommend keeping her if you get her! she deffinitely made sure the class was interactive, and went out of her way to get feedback and model the class after the students' needs!

Sep 2005

ok. I must interject into all these bad reviews of Gorkom and say, "Grow Up." I took her in my first semester so I had nothing to compare her to. however, I have since had a TA that was an idiot and prof that could give a shit. Gorkom is neither. She may not be the most naturally gifted and entertaining prof but she is incredibly kind and helpful. Yes. She will tell you blatantly that your are wrong when you say stupid things. But isn't that the point of school? (Science isn't like the humanities. There are answers that are just plain wrong.) However, she's not mean about it. She just says, "No." And then looks for someone who has the right answer. She is incredibly available to her students and true to her "matter of fact" style, when something wasn't clear on a problem set she would say "Yes. That wasn't very clear was it? Let me fix that." The point--she also has no problem telling herself she's wrong. Fair warning. She does have a strange habit of pausing before answering. This is a little off putting because at first you think it has something to do with you. It doesn't. Its just something she does. She may be translating. It may be an affective disorder. She may spend too much time reading. I don't know. But, i used to suffer from anxiety and my hands would shake. it didn't make me a bad person. She pauses. people come in different flavors. If you can realize that its just a quirky personal trait of someone who is clearly both brilliant and a forerunner in her field (not many women became astronomers when she did. i think she was the first female astronomer at some of the institutes she worked at?? princeton or something?), you will find that Van Gorkom is a very sweet, very competant professor who will happily answer all your inane questions and indulge your strange scientific whims. I am not a science major and she would still try to answer my silly questions about quantum mechanics as they related to the rudimentary astronomy we were learning. Everyone teaches differently. She's a nice lady. End of story.

Aug 2005

He's great guy. Very intelligent, of course. Expects a lot of out of his students, but at the same time, itsn't very hard to please. He mainly just wants you to show thought and effort. He was one of the lectures for my semester (spring 2005). His lectures were somewhat dense and dry, but I love that him, and the other lecturers as well (especially Horst Stormer), are really passionate about what they teach. I imagine he'll be a very difficult professor, but I hope he'll be teaching one of the upper level science courses I take. P.S. He really likes people to come to his office hours.

Jul 2005

I won't be so hard on her as most other people commenting on her are. She know the stuff, but need a better understanding that most kids in the class are non-science muggles not science wizards. Also, a better class plan and course plan would help her as well rather than posting a lot of materials online, actually discussing. Still, I will say she is quite a capable teacher, and the materials she provide in class as well as the extra problems we solve in class are really helpful to do the problem sets and for the finals equally. She is very helpful, so if you are in trouble understanding person you should expect help witn a warm smile. I little better organizing skills and she will be perfect.

Jul 2005

Liz is a true gem. She's intelligent, dedicated, witty and totally down-to-earth. Overall, I was not a fan of Frontiers of Science. I think the principle is important. Not enough people care about major issues facing the planet/our civilization. So, hopefully, there are a few people who, having been forced through the class, decide that they have found their calling. I'm not one of those people, but Liz made me into a concerned bystander. I'll definitely donate money to groups who are fighting global warming someday (if I have the money to do so). Anyway, Liz pratically runs the whole department. Her study guides and exercize sheets circulate the department like crazy. She takes the material to the next level. If you have Liz, you WILL do well on the final. She prepares you so well for it. She's tough, but it pays off. You definitely have to work hard to do well in her class...which I'll admit, was frustrating at times, especially when I saw my friends doing next-to-nothing and still getting A's. But, if you do work hard, you'll be rewarded. As for the person who complained that she won't let you cheat...ummm...need I even address that complaint? And, yes, she does teach you how to use graphs, but usually that was part of the required departmental hit-list of things that had to be done during discussion sections. If the class caught the gist, she would move rapidly and get into the more interesting stuff. If not, she spent more time on it. Totally reasonable. If you have to take this class, and most of you will have to, YOU WANT LIZ.

May 2005

Aside from the fact that this course is a waste of time and should be immediately removed from the Core Curriculum, there is plenty to complain about here. Most people absolutely love Liz. I don't know exactly why. Most of my class came to a consensus that she's completely self-righteous, arrogant, and awkward. Though she's incredibly energetic and teaches with passion -- this much I can't take away from her -- she also has a knack for thinking her students are downright stupid. She assumes that her students don't know if the earth revolves around the sun or vice versa, that they don't know how to read bar graphs or histograms, that they don't know what axes on a graph are like, etc. etc. Most of the class is spent on learning to read graphs -- now, I have a sibling who I watched learn the same material when she was in the third grade. A warning about Liz: if she has even the slightest doubt that you've cheated on anything -- and I'm talking any miniscule doubt -- she will be the first person to take it to the administration and make your life hell. She sticks to every rule and gives no leeway. She is particularly adamant about absences and tardies, but don't mess with her on any level because she will go out of her way to screw you over. Otherwise, have fun!

May 2005

Kerry was a nice guy... but he didn't strike me as a very smart guy. He is really young and was probably strongarmed into teaching the course, and it showed. He didn't know much about any topics that weren't specific to his own studies (read: almost everything), and the discussion sections were painful. Granted, a lot of that was due to my class being full of a bunch of total idiots who clearly cared nothing for the class. This clearly frustrated Dr. Brown, and understandably so. He seemed to be a somewhat tough grader on the problem sets (partially because he couldn't understand a lot of our answers or he was instructed to look for some buzz word from the class and if we didn't include it, we got no credit for that part of the problem), but he curved the class fairly generously. Taking Frontiers with Kerry was not a disaster by any means, and I doubt that a lot of the other TA's are much better, but if you can take a class with a real Prof as the instructor, I would highly recommend it. What I wouldn't give to have taken Frontiers from Professor Stormer instead!

May 2005

It's not even about the accent, which if you try to understand, you probably can. It's about the fact that -- maybe this is a cultural thing -- she doesn't understand how to tactfully address incorrect answers AT ALL. The effect of this is as follows: A kid raises his hand in the first discussion, gets wholeheartedly smacked down by Jackie, and then never, ever, speaks again because he is afraid of the humiliation. It's not because she is a mean person; she certainly isn't. She just doesn't really understand the etiquette that applies to the classroom. Frontiers sucks and everyone knows it. So does UW, but at least every kid has the bare minimum knowledge when it comes to writing. Frontiers is a course that demands a bare minimum of scientific knowledge that a lot of us just don't have. We all took English, but not all of us took physics. It was a humiliating experience for me, and I couldn't wait for it to end.

May 2005

Helfand is an erudite who dominates the class, but beware, this is NOT a course where you will learn the names of constellations or even look through a telescope. Helfand has a passion for his work and it shows. He goes the extra yard to make himself available. The concepts are difficult for most. I saw many 50% on the Midterm, quizes and Problem Sets.

May 2005

Liz was very sweet and fun and enthusiastic but her explanations often created more confusion than they dispelled. Each week I left her discussion section feeling like I understood the material even less than I had before the section. She WAS often available outside of class sessions, and was very quick to respond to her emails but her teaching style veered between explaining simple ideas in a complicated way and breezing over complex ideas with an "of course you should know this already" brevity. Liz was very fun and informative on the class trip, but as a lecturer tended to make my head want to explode. I eventually got tired of saying "I don't understand" and just sat quietly, wishing the pain of frontiers of science would finally end.

Jan 2005

I agree with the previous review. As long as you have the ability to do some basic math and a little bit of interest in science, this class is for you. He assigns almost none of the weekly work if any at all. The class consists of him going of on tangents, some of which are interesting, few of which are helpful. He has this knack for making any pause in his speech the most ackward 10 seconds of your life. My advice: suffer through classtime b/c you are avoiding a lot of stupid work. He definitely knows his stuff so if you have questions he will answer them. Its when he is on his own, that things get boring, and occasionally absolutely hilarious.

Jan 2005

I have to disagree with the last review. Prof Melnick is a very cool guy, extremely approachable and nice. Sure, he did go off on tangents sometimes, but who cares... He understands a lot about biodiversity and was quite honest with us when he wasn't very familiar with what was being taught. He is far from arrogant. In fact, I would recommend being in his discussion.

Jan 2005

Damon is awesome. The Frontiers of Science lectures were occasionally interesting and usually boring, but Damon's seminar was always fun. Some reviews here have said it was easy, and it was - but mainly because it's easier to do work when your professor is awesome. Which he was. Take this class.

Jan 2005

Yeah, Damon is really nice and a fair grader. But let's be honest-- Frontiers discussions are a joke. You'll dread going to the Pupin dungeon every week to waste your time and get treated like a high school kid again. You'll trivialize some interesting scientific work and waste countless hours of time with "field experiments". At least Damon is on your side.

Jan 2005

I will corroborate the other reviews here and assure you that a Kamat section is a waste of time. It is not hard, but it is unpleasant. She really is a kind person but she has no idea what she is doing and doesn't seem to know the Frontiers material well either (she doesn't pretend to know much outside her own field, the study of Dark Matter- her discussion of this topic in the first lecture was about as interesting as her discussion sections got, too bad it had nothing to do with the course). If you are looking to learn in your discussion section, follow this clever alliterative slogan: Keep away from Kamat, khildren.

Jan 2005

Professor Melnick is so full of himself that you will never learn much at all about what you actually want to know -- just about what he does and what he is interested in talking about that day. I found myself wanting to say to him "dude! we are Columbia students who really do care about the subject matter! Get off of your arrogant self!" However, over and over, he would bore us with his little stories about himself, his own studies, his trips to Bangkok (because the first thing he will tell you is that he is part of the committee for the UN committee for environmental stability). He was cool for about a minute and a half... but then I instantly found myself being bored to death in this class I was required to attend. He would always remind us that we were lucky to have such a professor who is top in his field... but guess what? we weren't. He taught us nothing, was generally unfriendly, and was a difficult, picky grader. My favorite comment of his was: "Among all of the other things I'm good at, I'm a GREAT editor"... please! spare me! spare yourself from such a haughty, arrogant man being a part of your life twice a week. I would have much rather have had a TA or a graduate student.

Jan 2005

A nice guy, but not the most interesting teacher. He seemed enthusiastic but never really had any insight into the topics. When someone finally did ask a question he would stubble through some incoherant explanation. He looks for specific answers to his questions, thus you must learn to think like him. Not the best, not the worst.

Jan 2005

Let me just say that Don Hood made not only my experience in this course much more rewarding and enjoyable than it could have been, but made my first semester at Columbia that more appealing. I truly lucked out by getting him. One of the nicest, enthusiastic and approachable professors that I had this semester, Don's passion for his subject area came through and his teaching style led to great results on the standardized final. I would definitely take another seminar with him again if I had the chance.

Jan 2005

Liz was the only reason I enjoyed this class. She was throughly knowledgable, and if she wasn't clear on a subject she researched it so that we could better understand it. She was very enthusiastic and fun, and really wanted to get us engaged and interested in the material. She was understanding about the workload and often cut down the amount of busywork we had. She often modified assignments to make them more participatory.

Jan 2005

Was the worst class I've ever taken! She has a heavy accent and is sometimes hard to understand. Be careful with your answers because if you are wrong she is quick to point that out.

Jan 2005

Fronteirs is a joke of a class and a waste of your time. However, Damon made the class somewhat bearable and always seemed ready to help. Compared to what I have heard about other section leaders, Damon is probably one of the best.

Jan 2005

I disagree with prior reviewers who said Prof. van Gorkom's accent was impossible to understand - it wasn't. However, the fact remains that she wasn't a very good teacher. Perhaps it's because she's incredibly brilliant, but she can't explain things to students very well, on the few occasions when she tried. She asks questions, smiles and looks at you blankly while you struggle to answer, refuses to cut you off so you end up just spattering nonsense for awhile, and then when you finally conclude with, "But I don't know, I'm probably wrong," she finally tells you, "Yes, completely." My class even theorized that she took pleasure in us being wrong. I tend to agree. If you haven't already learned the material, she'll be of very little help. She's also a tough grader, so overall I agree that you should avoid her section if possible. As for Frontiers as a whole, the one word that comes to mind is "sucks." The lectures are entertaining and cover interesting material, but don't matter at all for the grades of the course. The problem sets are long and ask convoluted questions that you don't know what they're even asking. Not having a midterm seemed good at first, but now that the course is over, it probably would have been very helpful in preparing for the final. The final itself was not easy, even though you'd think it would be since it doesn't require any actual knowledge. Although the intentions of the course are noble enough, it is badly executed and pointless.

Jan 2005

Yes, this man is very nice and quite easy. However, the discussions sometimes get a tad boring...it has yet to be shown that any Frontiers discussion can be interesting, though...

Jan 2005

I would agree that he is a terrible teacher of frontiers. However, I am a science guy and this class was a freakin joke. I didnt really need a teacher to teach me the stuff because I got an A without a teacher. The reason he is so bad is because he rarely addresses the material at hand, but goes off on many, albeit interesting tangents. The truth is that it might not be his fault because no one really knew what material to address because everything was so up in the air. So, I enjoyed some of the interesting talks and I enjoyed getting to know the man, because he is really nice and is a very interesting guy to have discussions with. If you are a science guy/girl, he is a decent choice because this class is retarded and you might as well get to know a cool guy. If you arent a science person, definitely stay away because you will be left out in the cold.

Jan 2005

She is a very nice person and tries her best to explain what was unclear to us from the lectures. Sometimes the class can be a complete bore, so just a warning.

Jan 2005

Although I came into this class as a student with a relatively strong science background, and definitely interested in learning about recent scientific phenomenons and new scientific trends, Professor Kamat did me not justice! Although frontiers lectures were interesting, her seminars were BOO-RING! She spent the first 5 minutes of class reviewing some of the basic ideas in our readings for the week, which was sometimes helpful, and then after that makingsure we had understood the material by asking us questions about it. I guess this could be seen as stimulating class discussion, but us students couldn't even understand what she was asking us. In the over an hour remaining of class Kamat would blankly stare at us, letting us talk amongst ourselves, waiting for us to answer her question that we still didn't understand. At some point someone would ask her a question, but she wouldn't understand that question, so the rest of the class would be spent with all the students trying to explain to her what that student was wondering. Basically, the class was a huge let-down. Frontiers of Science is a good idea, and the topics and readings are interesting, but the seminar leader can either make it or break it for you. If you are looking for stimulating, thought-provoking, exciting, and you want to understand the importance of the broad scientific ideas that dominate our world today, I urge you to swich out of Kamat's class- immediately!

Jan 2005

On the surface, Krantz does seem to be the "worst teacher" that the previous Frontiers review describes. I attended every seminar and can honestly say that we did, basically, a whole lot of nothing. Certainly nothing related to any topic discussed in the lectures. However, Krantz's effort to make this horrendous class remotely interesting was admirable. He tried to lead interesting discussions and debates every week, and sometimes even succeeded. The most noteworthy blessing in disguise about Krantz's Frontiers seminar is the workload. In an effort to be different from the other seminar leaders, Krantz offers unconventional (aka ridiculously short and easy) assignments. So, while other Frontiers classmates from other seminars were whining about their "cluster questions," our seminar was probably reading and reflecting on a Science Times article. The choice is yours. For a basic course like Frontiers, you can take Krantz and sacrifice a certain degree of stimulation for weird humor and a ridiculously light workload for an easy grader. If you'd rather do crazy amounts of, let's face it, relatively useless work (while actually learning and discussing the material) I'd recommend another seminar leader.

Jan 2005

I just thought I should balance the other review since I am a non-science major. Sharmila Kamat is a horrible teacher. She can't explain anything, and literally relied on students to explain what was going on. She NEVER understood a question, a topic, anything. Frontiers of Science is a lame class anyway...having Dr. Kamat made discussion sections the most horrible part of my week. In my opinion, she is rude to her students, constantly impatient with people that don't understand, and clearly incompetent at teaching. I have no doubt that she is really smart, but she is NOT a teacher. Switch if you get her....she's that bad.

Jan 2005

Maulik is a nice guy but he is unable to explain simple concepts in a coherent way or foster any interest in the topics whatsoever. It is obvious that he is a researcher and that he is not cut out to teach, especially since he was unfamiliar with most of the topics (brain & behavior, biodiversity, global warming, and astronomy) taught this semester. I felt wholly unprepared for the final exam and was only able to complete the weekly work using guess-work and help from friends in the same discussion section.

Dec 2004

If you are looking for an incredible experience, take HIS section. Because of Professor Helfand, I actually enjoyed science. He is engaging and somewhat comical, and he truly loves to teach!

Dec 2004

He encouraged lots of questions and for people to go to his office hours. He seemed to care quite a lot about students; at the beginning of the semester he invited each of us to his office for a get-to-know-you discussion, and he always responded to emails promptly. Try to make it to class on time though. I had a habit of going to each one at least 5-10 minutes late, and it looked like it pissed him off (understandably so). There's some arrogance when you talk to him, but it's not too big a deal. All in all, a good seminar leader

Dec 2004

Sharmila is a very nice woman, but she does not know how to teach at all. She looked like a deer in front of headlights trying to get a room of freshmen to answer her questions. She knows science, of course, but her area of expertise is limited (to astrophysics, which is cool but fairly unhelpful). For the units not related to the stars, she knew as much or less than her students on the topic. She could not get the class to participate. When silence greeted a question, she assumed that no one understood the topic, when in fact no one cared enough to answer her. I actually liked the lectures in Frontiers, and I would recommend going to lectures, but I hated this seminar section. As someone who has extensive science experience and will be a science major, I found this seminar section almost unbearably simple and condescending. Unfortunately, as a small Core class, I couldn't skip. If you don't care at all and aren't going to bother participating, you'll be fine. If you want to get anything at all out of the class, switch. There are good seminar leaders, and she is not one of them.

Dec 2004

Damon is just an all-around nice guy who genuinely loves science and loves to share his love of science with his students. He can't help that Frontiers is a worthless class; he would often introduce things into our discussions that added an extra angle to what had been said in the lectures. He would always answer every single question that anybody had, and do so quickly and happily. Damon made the evil monster that is Frontiers of Science bearable. I'd take another class with him in a heartbeat.

Dec 2004

Damon was an awesome TA. There isn't any more than you can ask for; he's really approachable, intelligent, and grades very fairly. He's good at explaining and clarifying really obscure scientific concepts (great for "non-science" people like me), and he facilitates discussion really well. Damon's full of energy--he reminds me of a hyperactive squirrel sometimes. He's in motion constantly--lots of big hand gestures and walking around the room--and you can tell that he totally loves discussing science with students, even though the topics might not be related to his personal field (environmental science). Definitely consider yourself lucky if you're placed into his section; he made Frontiers my favorite class this semester.

Dec 2004

Krantz is the worst teacher i have ever had. Nothing was learned in his class. He put us at a huge disadvantage by having limited expectations for us. His advice for the final that is worth 30% and department wide was "dont study, take the weekend of". Of corse listening to this advice would have been stupid on the part of the student, I was still left searching for appropriate material to study because he claimed the entire exam would be self-contained. He was so wrong. I did all the work in this class and attended every lecture and seminar. His failure to prepare his students for the final has the potential to result in destroyed gpa's. He is honestly the worst teacher.

Dec 2004

Helfand was a funny, informative, and engaging lecturer. He performed science experiments on stage, doing things like pouring liquid nitrogen on stuff and making his hair stand on end with static electricity. He's definitely got personality, and his lectures were clear, easy to understand, and very interesting. Overall, he's a great guy -- take any class he offers.

Dec 2004

Van Gorkom has the most difficult accent to comprehend. However, on top of the fact that she comes from an isolated cave in the underwater world of the Netherlands, she likes to talk to one side of the classroom (I don't know which is better: having her to talk to you or not having to listen to her). Van Gorkom is not helpful when it comes to understanding course material and expects her students to know all of the answers coming in. If you don't know an answer, be afraid, because she will shut you down and think you're stupid. Oh yeah, and this class should be 20 points because it feels like you're there for the entire day., so bring a bag lunch and a pillow. The course sucks enough as it is and having Van Gorkom just adds to the suckiness. The only good quality I can give Van Gorkom is that she does make herself very available to help her students on the problem sets, however, she grades them ridiculously hard. She definitely takes a lot of getting used to. If you get her and can switch, do it as soon as possible. If you can't, just deal with the fact that you're in for an awful semester.

Dec 2004

Liz is AMAZING!!! she is definately the reason that this class was worthwhile at all. She is EXTREMELY enthusiastic and passionate about all the topics presented in class and helps you understand them by applying them to real life. She is also extremely dedicated to this course. She is friendly and very approachable with any questions or concerns about the class. She loves to change the course-wide assignments so assignments that cover what she feels is important. A lot of the assignments she makes up are very fun an interactive. She is very intelligent and knows her sh*t. She is very helpful in office hours with answering questions about the weekly assignments or the problem sets. During our field experiments I had the chance to see other section leaders in action and i completely understand why a lot of my friends HATED this course. I am sure that Liz is by far the best section leader in Frontiers and you would be very very lucky to have her. The lectures can get pretty boring but if you have Liz you will really appreciate what they are trying to do with this course. She is seriously a goddess.

Nov 2004

she is awful!! she can hardly speak english. she has this thick awful accent and her teaching skills are virtually non-existent. if you get her for frontiers of science discussion try your best to swtich sections. her class is so boring, its literally an hour and 15 minutes of torture. trust me spare yourself. she's a tough grader.

Nov 2004

This guy is the nicest, friendliest, easiest teacher ever. It's so nice just being in his class, so I just had to put a good word in for him.

Nov 2004

I would have to say my best teacher this semester and a great year to start off my first year at Columbia. She is one of the most enthusiastic teacher I've ever had and loves all the material she covers. She takes the time to explain concepts she feels are important and tries really hard to get us interested by creating powerpoint slideshows and even making a few hands on experiments that make it easier to understand the concepts. She is a very accessible teacher and is nice and organized. Her office hours are very helpful and she's prompt about answering emails. She even gives progress reports, a rare plus among college professors. Be sure to pick Cottrell if you're looking for a very passionate, organized, and overall, just awesome Frontiers of Science professor.

Sep 2004

I would say that if you can dig the "baby science" aspects of the class, then Robin is killer. You want her as your section leader. She without doubt makes the class way more interesting by bringing in anecdotes from all her science readings/personal experiences, and does a great job at keeping the subjuct non-technical and easy to understand. Outside of class, she was always approachable and loves to just chat about anything science related. She will def go out of her way to make sure you find what you are looking for should you ever inquire something of her, class related or not.

Jan 2004

Man. Do not take this class. At least until it's seriously re-worked. It was a waste of a freshman course that at least could have been put towards another science course for requirements. Basically, you forget you're in the class for two weeks because lectures are incredibly painful (at nine oclock in the morning on a FRIDAY) and all information you could research on the internet and present yourself. Which means many people don't go to any. And then, when a problem set is due you stay up late until the morning of lecture attempting to complete problems you know you should be able to do, but somehow can't because it's the most mindless busy work... therefore making you feel stupid. Apparently this class is about learning the process. This should have been made more clear in the beginning... I thought I was going to learn something besides Intergrated Science I in high school. The goal of the class should be geared more towards creating a group of adults who will be more aware of current issues within the sciences (which was attempted), and most importantly how to help and actually do something about what one should walk away from the class with.

Jan 2004

I feel as though this review should focus more on the class itself than Prof. Kelley's particular teaching style, which plays only a minor role in the whole FroSci experience. The newly designed science core course has many bugs to work out yet. The problem sets are easy, but very frustrating (there's a lot of independent, online research involved that gets tedious really quickly). The lectures themselves were interesting and valuable, though their unfortunate placement on friday mornings meant I slept through many of them. As for the discussion sections, they often had only nominal connection to the lectures. Prof. Kelley had some creative ideas in her approach to each subject matter, but often times our meetings were simply a bore. She resorted to a lot of group and individual presentations later in the semester, which I got almost nothing out of. Don't get me wrong, she's a sweet lady whose passionate about the course, and her quirkiness is rather charming, but every aspect of the course retains a coarseness that needs to be sorted out. Probably my biggest problem with the course was how much the professors involved taught down to their students. The class claims to be designed for science and non-science people, but I can' t imagine that anyone who manage to get accepted to Columbia was as science-ignorant as they assumed us to be. I sincerely hope this does not become a required core course next year, because if it does a ton of students are going to find themselves very frustrated. That said, FroSci is an easy A for students with any scientific background.

Jan 2004

The frontiers of science class still has many bugs to be worked out. The friday lectures were fascinating, but the homework was silly. However, Menke cannot be blamed for the class as a whole. He was disarmingly nice at all times and really tried to get our class talking. Often times, he failed spark a good discussion. Though with a class that was randomly chosen and who had very little real interest in the subjects, Menke cannot be completely blamed for the apathy of the class either. He is a wonderful and nice person who I would love go out and have coffee with, but he was unable to make the discussion sections into good discussions- rendering the class into a waste of my time.

Dec 2003

You really have to give Robin an A for effort. She tried so hard to make this class exciting. The class itself is so flawed. It's geared towards the "nonscience" type which basically just means all the problem sets are written in cryptic baby language. I would say (at best) 50% of the class actually attended lecture. I mean, who the hell goes to a 9:00 AM FRIDAY lecture!?!? (especially when you can just read it later because they post it on the website). The difficulty level of this class wasn't very hard at all. However, 30% of our grade was based on our section. Other section leaders had zero homework. Ours had busywork.... I know Robin didn't want to hand out grades based on a whim, but it was kind of frustrating to see other people in frontiers slacking off while we had to do somewhat stupid projects. I really liked Robin as a person but her teaching style was a bit too middle school science class... It was her first class at Columbia, though, so maybe she'll adjust to the college scene a bit better.

Dec 2003

Though very interesting, the experimental freshman class was riddled with problems: poorly written problem sets that often were not based off of the lectures, an attempt to cover too much information too quickly, and often a lack of connection among the topics. But the course will probably vastly improve since it was a pilot course, so now onto Don Hood: In this seminar class of about 15 students, the class would usually start out with him summarizing the previous general lecture and would often be interspersed with student questions (and some discussion). His lecture style falls somewhere in between chirpy / engaging and dry / unenthusiastic. The problem is that much of the material was not his own specialty and he might even be learning it for the first time. But the lectures on his area of expertise (which is presumably relevant to his other classes) had an interesting subject matter and he would often become more engaging or excited about the material. He was organized enough that he was easy to follow in his lecture. He would present facts rather simply while providing a good foundation for when he would talk about bigger ideas and concepts. I rarely left feeling I did not understand some subject material – and if so he invites and always answers questions. He is also very approachable after class and will easily talk to you (at which point you also realize he is rather lighthearted and even slightly amusing). I don’t know how good he is about being open during his office hours, but he is probably the best professor I have seen in regards to promptly responding to student e-mails (during the daytime). Grading was based only on hideous problem sets, but compared to the other professors teaching the class I understand he fell somewhere in between. So his grading is definitely fair (if not charitable).