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.
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.
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.