Teaching and Mentoring

Courses Taught

  • General Biology 1, Section A: Utica College (Fall 2015): "Dr. Berns really does care about her students and their success. Questions are not only welcomed, but encouraged. She communicates material effectively so that everyone can understand as best as possible"..."She always graded in a timely fashion, and was always available for questions if you didn't understand your grade."..."The instructor is very active with the students. She has meetings with us and make sure she's always available with office hours"..."I felt the responses to my work was great and very fair, she helped me understand what I did wrong on the tests and made it easier to not make those mistakes again"..."This course was amazing and I hope I can take some other classes that you teach in the future"..."Extremely informative. Even though it was introductory, there was a lot of info that wasn't just surface knowledge. The class was fun, funny, and more importantly, informative"..."She was very friendly with the students including myself. She never left a question asked in class unanswered. Input from students was always welcome, and if it didn't quite meet the mark, she would help finish the thought in such a way that didn't make the person asking feel wrong."
  • General Biology 1, Section B: Utica College (Fall 2015): "They were very thought provoking it made me think about life. Loved the classes! Great knowledgeable professor that seems to really enjoy teaching."..."Everyone is able to express their opinions without anyone being judged for it. "..."Dr.Berns always makes sure everyone understand what it is she is teaching. If someone doesn't understand something she thought in class, she will try to explain it in a way that will help that individual to understand"..."Very well spoken and communicated clearly. Questions were always welcome at any time"..."Dr. Berns is a phenomenal professor, she is very upbeat and willing to teach. She has impacted my learning so much and helped me get through this semester alive and very well educated in this subject. She makes us strive for greatness and encourages us to do great things and asks questions. She is very open and kind and I would definitely take another course with her. She is very understanding and I'm comfortable to ask her for help if I need it or if I have any questions I know she would be able to answer them in a very understanding and helpful manner"..." I personally think I was evaluated in a great way, her grading was always reasonable and I've never had a problem with it. She thoroughly explains what I have done wrong and compliments me when I do well which is always helpful! Dr. Berns sets high standards but in a good way in a possible way that encourages students to do well, ask questions, and strive for greatness"..." Solid A compared to my other courses and one of my favorite lectures to go to. She challenged us everyday to put the pieces of the puzzle together"..."The learning environment for this class is wonderful, it's challenging but in a good way. Dr. Berns challenges us to strive for greatness and to think and understand not just be given stuff and spit it back out she has taught us to take information learn it understand it and question it, ask why something does what it does how does it do that. She has taught us very well and I would recommend her to any student I know!"
  • General Biology 1, Section C: Utica College (Fall 2015): "Dr. Berns is an awesome professor. You can tell that she genuinely cares about her students and their success. She always is available and would drop what she is doing to help a student out"..."She always interacted with students and always answered any questions and concerns. Even outside of class, she sent regular emails with notes and ways to help us"..." I like how the instructor made connects to real life examples with some of the material we learned. The instructor has increased my understanding of the subject"..." I liked how she always wanted to provide us with as many resources to be successful as possible- such as a study guide, very good analogies, and web videos to help clarify some tough subjects"..."Very nice, approachable, genuine instructor. "..." The instructor answered every students questions effectively and with respect"..."I really liked how much Dr. Berns was involved and how she genuinely cared for us and our success. I felt very comfortable asking her questions and going to her if I had trouble."
  • General Biology 1 Laboratory, Section 1, Utica College (Fall 2015): "The instructor was very effective with her teachings and if there were ever problems she would email us or talk to u in class about the problems"..." It was challenging to understand the topics sometimes but the instructor made it easier to understand"..."Overall, I thought this course a taught very well. The quizzes were a very good indication of whether or not we understood the previous lab"..."The learning environment would be very friendly and exciting. "..."She definitely works hard and it shows!"..."The standards on labs were high but fair considering how much time we have in lab to work and out of lab to work and seek help"..."Lab really helped me grasp some of the harder concepts, I always felt challenged. There would always be explanations on why an answer was wrong"..." Dr. Berns is very effective. She is always available for help and does her best!"
  • General Biology 1, Utica College (Spring 2015): "Course requirements and expectations could not have been clearer"..."Dr. Berns is highly approachable and shows concern for students' success and personal growth"..."I like that the grading is spread across multiple types of evaluation. In addition to being fair, I think it has helped me to learn the material on both a broader and deeper level"..."She's a good listener and respects everyone's comments."..."Dr. Berns is great, she was always pushing us think, but also to think realistically. The use of videos and songs I found to be a nice way of complimenting what can be dry material"..."Her overall passion for the subject inspired me and that influenced me to try harder in the course..."..."The learning environment is very comfortable because the instructor always ask for questions and is happy to go over whatever we missed"..."The motto that there are no foolish questions is exemplified in this class and it has given me back the confidence to always be thinking and questioning."
  • General Biology 1 Laboratory, Utica College (Spring 2015): "The labs were excellent experience and definitely increased my understanding of the material. I thought the lab was well integrated with the lecture material and built upon it."..."The lab was great, in the past I've found lab intimidating, in this class though I have gained a level of comfort working in the lab that has me excited to continue on."..."Dr. Berns and the TA were great. I am now more comfortable working in a lab through working with them. It was a great experience."..."Lab was very effective in helping me to think about how do we actually measure this stuff? As well as questioning how else might we? It definitely inspired interest."..."Communication was always clear and effective, if misunderstandings arose the class worked together to get on the same page. Questions were always welcomed and highly encouraged."
  • Research Methods 1, Utica College (Spring 2015, 2 sections): "Instructor always shows great concern for students' learning."..."You went above and beyond to help us out."..."This course was helpful in understanding research on a statistical level. The course was a little challenging in the beginning, but overtime it became easier. I learned a lot thanks to my professor."..."very interactive with students and communicates clearly."..."She grades you on what you have done and if you did something wrong it's evident what it was."..."She always praises me for my performance in the class which motivates me more do to better in this course. She is very much fair in grading as well and always graded me what I deserved."..."I want to mention this that my professor is the best and the most student-friendly instructor I have ever met. She is the most deserving person."..."The class's environment is very studious. Everyone studies very well which sometimes put me in a competition but it get turned more relaxed by the professor, the way she explains the things is very impressive."
  • Anatomy and Physiology Lab, Utica College (Fall 2014): "The instructor went above and beyond for her students."..."Dr. Berns gives super fair quizzes and we get credit on our exams for completing written lab work which seemed about right to me."..."Dr. Berns met with us all individually after the first lab exam and talked about how better to study and what we were struggling with, that was really cool!"..."Dr. Berns is great, y'all are lucky to have her!"..."Professor Berns was a very effective instructor, she made sure that she got her point across and made herself available whenever the students needed her. I emailed her quite a few times over the semester and she was very responsive and willing to help whenever I needed it. "..."The instructor was very good at answering and questions and also made time to see her during office hours."..."Her responses were always helpful, even if we weren't doing very well she always tried to find ways to help make learning more fun and easier."..." The instructor always put her students first."..."If I ever needed help understanding something in the class the teacher would go over it for me in a different way I could understand."
  • General Biology 1, Utica College (Fall 2014, 3 sections): "The teacher was enthusiastic I liked that she used pictures and showed videos."..."The instructor did communicate very well with the students and she tried to answer all the questions that were being asked to the best of her ability and knowledge."..."the instructor is very open to presenting information in any way that helps students understand and readily willing to answer an and all questions."..."Very approachable, friendly, energetic and enthusiastic she always encourages students."..."Dr Berns is a very good teacher. She was more than willing to answer question, made herself very available, and made the class very comfortable."..."Dr. Berns went above and beyond here. Even with her already full schedule, she managed to fit me in two times a week to come to her office hours and discuss any problems I might have. She made sure that I put my all into the work by setting high standards for me."..."The professor is very lively and energetic with each topic. Her powerpoints, explanations and examples help me understand the material better."..."The professor is very friendly and she tries to interact with the students as much as she can. she even shows videos and reads books which are related to the subject. and every time a student asks a question, she would be eager to answer it."..."The instructor communicated clearly and effectively. She welcomed all questions and comments and tried to accommodate to any suggestions that we had to help us in class."..."The instructor actively engaged the students in the learning process, she made the class fun and incorporated videos into the lectures that were more relatable to the student body."..."The classroom setting and professor made the environment conducive of learning. I was happy to attend the class, and professor Berns enforced critical thinking throughout the class."..."Above all, you can tell that this professor cares about every single student and wants nothing more than to give them the best that she can give. I've never felt like a professor cared about ME as a person like Dr. Berns seems to."
  • Evolution, Adams State University (Spring 2014): "Dr. Berns was a great professor! She wants you to learn the material and cares that you know the material. She has gone out of her way to make sure you had a grasp on the concepts. overall the experience with this professor has been excellent she goes above and beyond to ensure you are learning. I would recommend to any student to take her courses."..." As a student athlete, I miss a lot of class. If I didn't understand the information that I missed or a review session that was missed while absent, she was willing to set aside time to meet. She was very enthusiastic about teaching the class, making it easier to attend. I am sad to hear that she will not be returning next year. We'll miss you, Dr. Berns! "..." I really liked you as a teacher, and you are very personable. I liked how you incorporated Youtube into your lectures. "..." The best thing about this course was the professor. Dr. Berns was very enthusiastic about Evolution. She taught us and helped us learn by not just lecturing. She included hands on activities, videos, crosswords, and quizzes. This helped increased my ability to learn immensely! She made herself very available for questions and helped by giving us every opportunity to succeed in this class! "
  • Human Anatomy, Adams State University (Instructor of lecture and 2 laboratories; Spring 2014): "Dr. Berns was a great professor. She was always very excited to teach. She gave us many ways to remember the information and gave us extra assignments to help us in studying. "..." She was an amazing professor. Very helpful and encouraging. Also, always made the time to meet with her students and explain the material. "..." The professor was willing to work with us to improve. She helped the students understand the material and was able to convey the information in a manner in which we could all understand. "..." I'm sad to see the professor leave because she was there for her students when we needed it. She made science fun and she influenced me to like science a lot more because of the way she taught it. She is a great professor and will do great things through her career because she has a lot of passion for teaching. She is one of the professors I wont forget about, it was an extremely fun course! "..." Loved the professor. She was always enthusiastic in class and even though the class was difficult and sometimes confusing, I was never embarrassed or scared to ask questions. She was very open and did more than many professors would do to make sure we knew the material. "..." As a student athlete in season, this course is very intense but Dr. Berns was more than helpful in ensuring that I understand material and did not fall behind. This course was not easy by any means but Dr. Berns was very knowledgable and interesting and kept it fun. She was very personable and approachable which was also very helpful. I would highly recommend taking this course to anyone if she were teaching it. "..." Dr. Berns did a great job of class organization and being prepared everyday for class. We knew what to expect everyday and she would go out of her way to make the class as enjoyable as possible for the students. Extremely efficient in responding to emails as well as accommodating for students that had emergencies arise. The students actually felt like she was there for us and our time rather than the other way around. "..." Dr. Berns was highly enthusiastic and accommodating in the lab portion of this course. She was knowledgable and helpful in many ways. She was hands on and very interactive. I would definitely recommend this lab if she were teaching it! "
  • General Biology 2, Adams State University (Spring 2014) : "Dr. Berns is my favorite professor at this university. She helped me a lot last semester with lecture and lab and has helped a lot this semester as well. I highly recommend her because professors like her are hard to come across. Many students other then me love her and have found it easier to understand material when she explains it. Her videos in lecture were great and helped students understand the material better. She is also a great person to sit and talk with during office hours. Dr. Berns is a professor that I would love to have in my future courses. "..." Dr. Berns was very excited about everything we were doing in this course. She was very helpful in pointing out important big-picture material. I enjoyed having Dr. Berns as the professor for this course because she was willing to help me understand what was what, but she wouldn't just tell me. She would explain it based off things that we were reading and seeing in other related things. "..." My favorite lab so far. Great instructor, and great enthusiasm, she made the lab fun! "
  • Ecology and Evolution of Reproduction, Adams State University (created and taught course; Spring 2014) : "Dr. Berns did a great job teaching a new and unique course. I am happy to have had her as a professor."..." The instructor seemed to care about this course and seemed to enjoy teaching us, as well as listen to us. I liked learning about the unusual aspects of the natural world and being able to discuss them. "..." I loved that there weren't always right answers and that we could debate the merits of various parts rather than regurgitate facts. I learned a lot in this course and really enjoyed it. "..." The best thing about the course was how friendly Dr. Berns was. I appreciated that we had a lot of open discussion in the class about the topics and I really liked that we were able to talk openly with her about the topics. I also really liked her enthusiasm. There were times that I felt tired or worn out when getting to class and her enthusiasm helped wake me up long enough to participate in the class discussions or ask questions about the lecture."..." I loved the discussion setting of this class and I wish more classes were set up in this more informal way to make it more enjoyable. "..." I felt that I learned more in this class due to the frequent discussions and Dr. Berns enthusiasm. She didn't expect us to have the "right" responses in class but instead expected us to be able to support why we think the answer we give is correct. She taught the information but also pushed us to learn to THINK rather than just memorize. "
  • General Biology 1, Adams State University (Instructor of lecture and 2 laboratories; Fall 2013): Lecture Reviews: "I thought that Dr. Berns did a good job of explaining the material in multiple ways, with pictures and videos. I thought it was very helpful."..."The class seemed to fly by every morning. Your interactions with the class was extremely helpful to prepare for the test."..."The extra time you put into labs and in class activities I greatly appreciated! You made me more interested in Biology. Thank you for a great semester!"..."Professor Berns is such a great person and teacher. She shows a lot of enthusiasm while teaching and dedication toward her students and subject."..."She always tried her best to make sure students understood what she was teaching and was always available if we needed extra help the side."..."
  • Laboratory Reviews: "Dr. Berns was always willing to help in our lab class regardless how simple or complex the problem was. She never shied away from taking on difficult tasks."..."Dr. Berns made this course really interesting! She was very encouraging to not only explain the material at hand but make me as a student want to know more. Participating in this lab made lecture class easier and more interesting because we were able to actively be hands on with the material we had learned. Her extra efforts as a teacher encourage me to be a good student and person as a whole."..."Not only was it great to have her as my lecture professor, but also a lab professor. She always explained each step in the beginning of the labs and offered assistance throughout the labs. I can't wait to have her in lab next semester!"..."I really like you as a teacher, I thought you were very energetic and you made lab fun."..."If we had questions you didn't immediately give us the answer and let us think of it on our own. Also I liked how you would frequently ask questions in lab to keep us on our toes. You made the labs interesting and fun to do, I never dreaded going to them! Thank you for putting extra time and making this course exciting!"

  • Environmental Science, Adams State University (Fall 2013) : "I really appreciate your own passion in the subject. Seeing you get excited about the topic helps in keeping your students interested. "..."I like it that you have the whole class get into discussions about debatable topics and I enjoy the videos."..."She taught this gen ed course with extreme enthusiasm and motivation. I wasn't too stoked about science before this course-- i just needed the gen ed requirement--but because of the teacher,I have now gained a high interest in the subject and will continue on with my learning after the class is over. Thank you so much for always being available to talk to if we ever had questions or concerns, and thank you for being diverse in your teaching style. As an education major and future educator myself, I hope to walk in your footsteps."..."I really thought Dr. Berns was a great professor. She knew the material so well and took an immense amount of time preparing material for the class."..."I like your energy. I think you enjoy teaching and you know your material! "..."I like the fact that you make this class relevant to my life, I like that you ask our opinion and we have to support it with science. I hate science but this has been my favorite science class I have ever taken in my life!!!"
  • Human Anatomy and Physiology, Adams State University (Fall 2013): "Dr. Berns is an amazing teacher and she made the class fun!"..."It was clear you knew exactly what you were doing which gave us confidence."..."Berns was so much fun to have as a professor. She was so patient and answered my questions in a way that was easy to understand."..."Very knowledgeable in her area and was more than helpful with questions posed by her students!"..."She's a great teacher! Very personable and a great individual that sets a enjoyable environment for me as a student."..."I just felt she genuinely cared about us! "
  • Evolution, Iowa State University (instructor of both in class and online sections; Summer 2013): This course covers the mechanisms of evolution. Topics in microevolution include population genetics, natural selection, genetic variation, and adaptation. Macroevolution topics include: speciation, extinction, phylogeny, and major evolutionary patterns. " I really enjoyed how available you were, even though it was only an online class. "..." She was VERY HELPFUL! And every time we met I felt like I understood the material a lot better! "..."I felt that you made your self available and went out of your way to get students face time. Including weekends. "..." Very responsive, I can not think of a time you did not respond to one of my questions or request within 24 hours. "
  • Principles of Biology, Iowa State University (Spring 2013): Introduction to the nature of life, including the cellular basis of life; energy relationships; the nature of heredity; evolution; diversity, form and function of microbial, plant, and animal life; the nature of heredity; diversity of microbial, plant, and animal life; and principles of ecology. Dissections include sheep eye and brain, fetal pig. Intended for life science majors. First of core series of required courses for the biology major. " I like that she goes out of her way to fully answer questions and doesn’t leave us clueless."...Chelsea is always very prepared for class."..."The TA is always willing to help explain a concept or procedure."...She is very enthusiastic and knowledgeable."
  • Advanced Biostatistics, Iowa State University (Spring 2013): This course presents a survey of the biostatistical methods commonly used in evolutionary and ecological research. It motivates this topic from the conceptual and logical foundations of matching one's data and hypotheses with analytical techniques, so that biological patterns can be properly assessed. The goal is to provide a working knowledge of statistical methods, so that one may better determine which analytical approaches are most appropriate for different types of data. The course therefore follows a: 'Think first, implement methods second' perspective.
  • Morphometric Analysis, Iowa State University (Spring 2012): A comprehensive overview of the theory and methods for the analysis of biological shape with emphasis on data acquisition, standardization, statistical analysis, and visualization of results. Methods for both landmark and outline data are discussed.
  • Solely developed and taught The Ecology of Hummingbirds, Iowa State University (Spring 2012): This course covers mating, behavior and other life history traits of hummingbirds. This includes a local field trip to observe hummingbird behavior as well as the discussion of scholarly articles. There are also be hands-on activities such as a visit to the ISU museum to see hummingbird specimens and the study of coevolution comparing floral and hummingbird bill morphology. Class evaluation ratings (5 = excellent) Global total: 4.58, Overall instructor: 4.78, Overall course: 4.38, Instructor's effectiveness: 4.56, Instructor speaks clearly: 4.89, Instructor treated students with respect: 5, Usefulness of in-class activities: 4.67. Sample of student comments: "This class was really fun. I really enjoyed the discussions that we had for this class and the videos that we watched."..."I really enjoyed the mist netting field trip! It was also great to learn in depth about hummingbirds."..."This class really emphasized the features that make hummingbirds such exceptional creatures and I'm glad I learned a lot about them."
  • Vertebrate Biology, Iowa State University (Fall 2008, 2012): Evolution, biology, and classification of fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals with an emphasis on comparative analysis of the structure and function of organ systems. Dissections of perch, dogfish, frogs, pigeons, rats and cow heart promote the study of morphology and identification of orders of vertebrates. Class laboratory section evaluation ratings (5 = excellent) Overall instructor effectiveness: 4.64, Instructor treats students with respect: 4.93, Instructor speaks clearly: 4.79. Sample of student comments: "Spends time with each student, genuinely excited about the material and teaching."... "She makes it easy to understand what is going on in each lab and what is expected of us."... "Tries to explain things in less scientific terms when students are confused then puts it back in scientific terms when understanding achieved."... "She goes to each group to make sure everyone understands the material and finds fun ways to portray information."



  • Graduate college mentor: Emeterio, S.
  • Graduate college mentor: Kraemer, A.
  • Hansel, M. Undergraduate senior: geometric morphometrics; statistical analyses; avian life history; phylogenetics; museum specimens and policy.
  • Pike, S. Undergraduate senior: geometric morphometrics; avian life history.
  • Harmon, M. Undergraduate junior: geometric morphometrics; biostatistics; scientific method and research applications.
  • Kramer, K. Undergraduate junior: geometric morphometrics; statistical analyses; avian life history; phylogenetics.
  • James, A. Undergraduate sophomore: geometric morphometrics; statistical analyses; avian life history; phylogenetics; manuscript preparation.


  • "Having you as a mentor benefited me tremendously as a student, scientist, and as a person. You inspired me to consider grad school, and as a result, work harder in every aspect of life. I learned to communicate more effectively and more scientifically. I became more confident in my endeavors. In addition, I learned a great deal about morphology, hummingbirds, and evolutionary theory. This knowledge was beneficial for my major and for future career opportunities. This research experience applies to my current career, where I was chosen based on my research history, a lot of which I owe to connections initially made through you. You introduced me to the other students in the lab, and continued to be a valuable resource well after you were no longer my boss. You mentor because you want to and because you enjoy it, not because you need to, or feel obligated to do so. That sets you apart from many mentors or bosses for whom I have previously worked. The enthusiasm you feel for your work is contagious. When you would get excited about hummingbirds or anything else you were working on, you conveyed information with excitement and it sparked a constant curiosity in me. I found myself asking questions and wanting to know more. You answered my questions on foreign concepts thoroughly and completely. You were respectful and treated me like an equal, never making me feel silly about asking questions. The relaxed atmosphere you created for those you mentored made it easier, and more enjoyable to learn. Time and time again you have gone out of your way to do anything you can for me. You are the most reliable, dependable, genuine, and caring mentor for whom I have had the pleasure of working. From my time with you, I took a newly ignited passion for science and learning, a wealth of knowledge and a base of new contacts."

    Hansel, M. Undergraduate senior: geometric morphometrics; statistical analyses; avian life history; phylogenetics; museum specimens and policy.

  • "Chelsea Berns would be an excellent candidate to mentor students. I originally met Chelsea when I volunteered to assist her with her graduate study on beak morphology of the hummingbirds. I feel I was very privileged to work on such a project and under the instruction of Chelsea. Even as a volunteer, I always looked forward going to the lab and working with her. She was excellent at explaining the task and hand and was able to answer any of my questions in a way that gave me the details I needed in an understandable manner. We also spent a lot of time exploring more about hummingbirds than was needed for the research because Chelsea displays what I would consider to be contagious enthusiasm. Her positive attitude and energy towards her work encouraged me to take a course dedicated to hummingbirds at Iowa State University. It just so happened that she was the person in charge of teaching that class. When I found this out, I could not have been more pleased. She taught me so much and her class is one of the most memorable in my time at ISU."

    Pike, S. Undergraduate senior: geometric morphometrics; avian life history.

  • "I feel that Chelsea is an excellent teacher for the college atmosphere. I have experienced her as a lead in both morphometric and vertebrate biology labs. Chelsea has a confidence in the subject matter and is someone I would want to come to with my questions. She also teaches with a patience that allows students to ask and answer their own questions. Chelsea isn't one to just give a student an answer, but give them techniques or simply work with them to discover the answer instead of having it handed to them on a silver platter. She approaches problems from many different angles, explaining a concept in several ways until you understand it. The best part about Chelsea's teaching style however is her easygoing but passionate nature and general approachability, which makes learning from her not only easy, but enjoyable. I enjoy having class with her because she loves what she does and takes the time to make sure you understand it too because she thinks its so awesome. Also by being an approachable teacher, she opens up a conversation with students who are comfortable enough to talk to her about concepts they may be struggling with, which is a far better then most college professors I have experienced. Overall, I believe that Chelsea is a pretty stellar teacher, someone who is intelligent, passionate, relatable, interesting, and generally loves what she does and helping students love, or at least understand it too."
  • Harmon, M. Undergraduate junior: geometric morphometrics; biostatistics; scientific method and research applications.

    Other Teaching Experience

  • Biology Teaching Assistant (TA) Learning Community: To improve Teaching Assistant's training, a Graduate TA Learning Community has been formed for TAs who are mentoring students through the design and implementation of their research projects. The first started in Spring 2012 (run by Howard Hughes Medical Institute teaching fellows). Its goals are to: a) increase TA pedagogical knowledge, b) create an environment for TAs to discuss best practices, c) create a community of TAs to support one another in the research‐based lab experience, d) continue the reform of new, inquiry labs in intro biology, and e) support adding active learning in the large lectures of intro biology.