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Amy Frary

Associate Professor of Biological Sciences


From Princeton Review:

“Plants are a defining part of the landscape and yet they are so often overlooked,” says Amy Frary, who teaches in the Department of Biological Sciences at Mount Holyoke College. “Moreover, there is a widely held belief that plants are not worth learning about.”


Professor Frary considers it her duty to work hard in the classroom to dispel that misconception. “My goal is for students to leave my class not only knowing structure-function relationships and the particularities of plant sex lives, but also with a newfound appreciation for the beauty of plants and the vital role they play in the environment and in our lives,” she says. In the process of sharing her love of plants with her students, she hopes to impact their perception of, and interaction with, the natural world. “Oh what a difference a passionate teacher makes,” exclaims a student. “When I signed up for this class I thought plant biology would be boring. On the FIRST DAY, Amy proved me wrong.”


In classes such as Introductory Biology: A Green World, Introductory Biology II: How Organisms Develop, and Local Flora, she tries to present the material in a lively and stimulating way that emphasizes her respect for, and fascination with, the plant world. “Students often feel overwhelmed by terminology and the details of processes so I try to show them that a little logic and common sense will help them understand the material without having to resort to rote memorization.” A student says: “She loves her field, that’s for sure. It shows in her lectures.”


Whenever possible, she will make reference to what one may observe in nature or to practical applications so that students can see how scientific knowledge impacts their lives; during labs, her classes use the local landscape as their laboratory, walking around campus to observe the colors of autumn and how plants prepare for winter. During individual meetings, her aim is to encourage students as much as possible: “[I want] to assuage their fears that the material is too difficult for them or that their ideas/lab reports/grades aren’t good enough. My hope is that they leave my office feeling better than they did when they came in.”

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Taken on April 4, 2012