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William Wood (Bill Wood)



  • Higher Ed: Science 


William B. Wood served on the biology faculty at California Institute of Technology for 12 years before moving to the University of Colorado, Boulder. He holds a B.A. degree from Harvard College and a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Stanford University, and he is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has done research on virus assembly, and on the genetic control and molecular biology of axis formation and patterning in embryos of the nematode C. elegans, with particular interest in mechanisms of embryonic left-right asymmetry and handedness choice.
He has also written and done research on biology education, which is currently his major interest. In the 1970's and '80's, he was lead author of the widely used textbook Biochemistry: A Problems Approach, which helped to introduce problem-based learning to biochemistry. He was a member of the National Research Council (NRC) committee that produced the 2002 report Learning and Understanding: Improving Advanced Study of Mathematics and Science in U.S. High Schools and was editor of the Biology Panel Report from that study. Currently, he is co-chair of the NRC committee on the National Academies Summer Institutes on Undergraduate Education in Biology and a member of the NRC Board on Science Education (BOSE). He was also editor-in-chief of the biology education journal CBE - Life Sciences Education until 2010, and has served on the College Board National Advisory Committee for revision of the Biology Advanced Placement course for secondary schools. In 2004 he received the Bruce Alberts Award of the American Society for Cell Biology for distinguished contributions to science education. 


Undergraduate biology education.
Genetic control and molecular biology of animal development.  


Handelsman, J., Ebert-May, D., Beichner, R., Bruns, P., Chang, A., DeHaan, R., Gentile, J., Lauffer, S., Stewart, J., Tilghman, S. M., and Wood, W. B. (2004) Policy Forum: Scientific teaching, Science 304: 521-522.
Wood, W. B. (2004) Clickers: a teaching gimmick that works. Dev. Cell 7: 796-798.
Wood, W. B. (2005) The left-right polarity puzzle: determining embryonic handedness. PLoS Biology 3: 1348-1351.
Knight, J, K, and Wood, W. B. (2005) Teaching more by lecturing less. Cell Biol. Educ. 4: 298-310.
Smith, M. K., Wood, W. B., and Knight, J. K. (2008) The Genetics Concept Assessment: a new concept inventory for gauging student understanding of genetics. CBE-Life Sci. Educ. 7: 422-430.
Smith, M. K., Wood, W. B., Adams, W. K., Wieman, C., Knight, J. K., Guild, N., and Su, T. T. (2009) Why peer discussion improves student performance on in-class concept questions. Science 323: 122-124.
Pfund, C., Miller, S., Brenner, K., Bruns, P., Chang, A., Ebert-May, D., Fagan, A., Gentile, J., Gossens, S., Kahn, I., Labov, J., Pribbenow, C. M., Sussman, M., Tong, L., Wright, R., Yuan, R., Wood, W. B., and Handelsman, J. (2009) Education Forum: Summer institute to improve university science teaching. Science 324:470-471.
Wood, W. B. (2009) Innovations in teaching undergraduate biology and why we need them. Ann. Rev. Cell & Devel. Biol., 25: 93-112.
Wood, W. B. (2009) Education Forum: Revising the AP Biology curriculum. Science 325: 1627-1628.
Shi, J., Wood, W. B., Krauter, K., and Knight, J. K. (2010) A diagnostic assessment for introductory molecular and cell biology. CBE-Life Sci. Educ. 9: 453-461.
Smith, M. K., Wood, W. B., Krauter, K., and Knight, J. K. (2011) Combining peer discussion with instructor explanation increases student learning from in-class concept questions. CBE-Life Sci. Educ. 10, 55-63.