All Ratings and Reviews for Priyanga A Amarasekare
She is a very good professor and overall cares about the material she is teaching to her students. She really wants her students to grasp the material and would prefer not to move on if there are still strong concerns which I think is amazing. However, she can be very aggressive and intimidating in certain situation which may show a side that is not really her true character. She is really helpful and really breaks down the material to you, especially on one on one.
The quizzes were a little annoying but it really does help you stay on top of things having one every week or basically every lecture. I just wish we knew exactly when the quizzes were and if were going to have two in one week in advanced. But overall interesting class I didn't care for ecology before this, but Professor A's mathematical approach shows proof to models that we only hear about.
This call is essential for the aspiring ecologist who holds any interest in mathematical theory of population dynamics. I highly recommend it for any EBE major as a strong basis for important concepts that underlay most modern looks at population dynamics.
However, I do not recommend this class for (perhaps) individuals who do not hold much interest in ecology and simply are looking to fulfill a requirement. I noticed many frustrated premed students in this class who seemed bitter about the mathematical basis of the course content. The class itself goes over several essential ideas in mathematical modeling of population dynamics in several contexts, including basic ideas of population growth, Lotka-Volterra models, models of disease causing organisms, metapopulation dynamics, and predator-prey systems. I personally find these subjects very interesting (but I am a EBE major interested in population based research) so perhaps the course content is not the ideas choice for the aspiring doctor.
The course is somewhat difficult, but easily manageable with constant studying (which is basically mandatory, because there are weekly quizzes that I later came to greatly appreciate during finals week). The math is not difficult, and one does not even need to implement calculus to solve the given mathematical ideas.
I very much enjoyed professor Amarasekare. She was informative and guided the class though many mathematical proofs in ecology population models that one does not find provided in other classes. She was very approachable and willing to speak during office hours about class content or ecology in general as well as willing to share resources.
I think some people find professor Amarasekare rather intimidating for several reasons that do not really reflect her teaching style. First and foremost, as the class has a mathematical basis, I find that many students are somewhat bitter about having to perform a large number of mathematical operations in an ecology class. In addition, professor Amarasekare does not baby you and expects a lot; if you give an answer, she commonly asks a follow-up question in order to further demonstrate your understanding. I think some people find this to be intimidating rather than helpful - as if some interpret professor Amarasekare as trying to flush out to everyone what you don't known rather than helping you further understand the concepts of the material (which is personal interpretation).
In short, if you are an aspiring ecologist, you should definitely take this class, as it concerns essential aspects of the science. If you want to take this class rather complacently, I suggest a different class.
This class is all about using mathematical models to understand ecology, and I thought it was super straightforward. I think students get scared when they see calculus, but SERIOUSLY, the only concept from calculus that you need to understand for this class is the fact that the derivative is a rate of change. You don't have to take any derivatives or integrals of any equations, and all the equations are provided for you on tests and quizzes, you just have to understand how to use them.
Your grade is based on weekly quizzes, attendance, and the final exam. The quizzes are given instead of a midterm, which I thought was great. I would just go over my notes like an hour before each quiz and I would be fine. You even get to drop your 3 lowest scores at the end of the quarter. The final was 50 multiple choice questions and some questions were tricky, but I managed to pull off an A by only studying for about 3 hours the night before. This class is really about understanding the ideas and not about memorizing things, so if you have a solid understanding of the content you really don't need to spend a lot of time studying.
The only downside to this class is that there are NO powerpoint slides or recorded lectures. She writes everything on the board and it's up to you to take good notes. I highly recommend never skipping class especially since she does take attendance. Overall I recommend this class. I thought it was interesting and the workload is pretty light as long as you focus your studying on the conceptual aspects.
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