In the Classroom

Lecturer at HMx, Microbiology and Immunobiology (2016-2017)
Lecturer and Curriculum Fellow, Microbiology and Immunobiology (2014-2016)
Instructor, Harvard Extension School (2015)
Instructor, Emerson College (2012, 2014)
Teaching Fellow Positions, Harvard (2009-2014)
Teaching Assistant Positions, UCSD (2004-2006)
Tutoring, Breyer's Branches (2005-2008)

Education Research

Kevin S. Bonham and Melanie Stefan. “Gender disparity in computational biology research publications.” Accepted -  PLoS Comp. Biol. (2017) Preprint -

 Figure 1C from  - Mentorship clearly matters! Papers with female senior authors have a significantly greater proportion of women at other author positions.

Figure 1C from - Mentorship clearly matters! Papers with female senior authors have a significantly greater proportion of women at other author positions.

Women and minorities are underrepresented in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). But not all STEM fields are equal. I believe science is for everyone, and I'm particularly interested in increasing diversity in the field of computational biology. But to do this, we need to understand the forces leading to underrepresentation.

There's a lot of great work being done in identifying and working to remedy the lack of representation in STEM fields generally, but while I was a curriculum fellow, I did not find any of this work being done in computational biology. This interdisciplinary field is intriguing since, though women are underrepresented in all STEM disciplines, the distribution of women is unequal. For example, over half of PhD recipients in the biosciences, but only 20% of computer science PhDs are earned by women. 

Working to understand the disparity between these parent disciplines in terms of representation may help to identify causes and conditions that prevent inclusion. As my research shows, computational biology lies somewhere in between computer science and biology, at least as measured by research publications. But the fact that women are using code in biology to a greater extent than in computer science may point to a way forward.

Course Examples

HMX Biochemsitry - Harvard Medical School Online Learning, 2016-2017

Course Link

I led the development of this completely online course, working with an incredible group of medical illustrators and video specialists to produce whiteboard-style concept videos, educational animations, and real-life clinical application videos. I also wrote over 200 assessment questions to measure learning on every component of the course, and performed data analysis to measure learning gains. 

Plagues and Pandemics - Emerson College, 2012 and 2014

Examples of Student Final Projects
Down in the Soil There's Tetanus
Bubonic Blitz

Course Materials:
2014 Course Evaluations (pdf)

Emerson College specializes in teaching all forms of communications, from art to broadcasting to marketing, but there are no science majors. Plagues is one of a few courses, often taught by adjunct faculty, that students may take to fulfill their science requirement. Knowing that in many cases, the students were forced to be there, I strove to design the course in a way that invited excitement, connected the content to students' lives, and gave them a stake in the learning. As a final project, I had students research and prepare a presentation in any communication medium they chose, from songs to plays. One group of students even mounted a social media campaign. 

Student Comments:

[Kevin]’s extremely passionate and, to his credit, works hard to explain advanced biology and immunology to students who are not necessarily science-brained. The class doesn’t always get it right away, but Kevin doesn’t give up on us.
He was very enthusiastic and knowledgeable about the material. He also seemed to understand that we were a class of arts kids taking a science course, and tailored the material as such.
Kevin was so enthusiastic and you could tell that he really loved to teach. I think he had very well thought out lectures and a really solid curriculum.
I found that Kevin understanding his demographic—Emerson students—allowed me to grasp the material better than normal science teachers teaching classes at liberal arts schools thinking their entire class is science majors.

Methods in Basic and Clinical Immunology - Harvard Medical School, 2014-2015

When I first heard about the new Masters of Medical Science program in immunology in early 2014, and was asked for suggestions on new courses to develop, my first thought was a course on methods. Not only individual techniques like FACS or ELISAs, but also on experimental philosophy and design. What makes a good scientific question? Once you have a question, how do you test hypotheses? During my graduate training, no one asked these questions out loud, and it took me many years of struggle before I was even aware that they were worth asking. But I now believe they're a fundamental part of the scientific process, and should be explicitly so.

In Methods, students are exposed to many different techniques used in immunology labs, from RNAseq to FACS, from CRISPR to intravital microscopy, and are instructed by Ph.D. students that use these tools every day in the lab. We focus explicitly on the uses, but also the limitations of each technique, and students are provided with real data to analyze and interpret. As a final project, students must write a three aim grant proposal for their own thesis lab, and other students read and critique their peers. 

Viruses: Molecular Machines Persisting at the Boundaries of Life - Harvard Extension School, 2015


I inherited this course from Joya Mukerji, a former curriculum fellow in Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology. I adapted her syllabus to focus a bit less on basic virology, and instead focus on the interplay between virus biology and host immune systems. We explored how viruses work by looking at the ways that the immune system attempts to defend against them, and how viruses have evolved to evade those defenses. 

Student Comments:

The instructor spent a lot of time researching methods to improve his teaching style. He was very open to suggestions and criticism from his students if it meant improving how well students learned. He was very fair and had realistic expectations for the class. The instructor was knowledgeable on the subject matter.
Laid-back yet informative, gives clear lectures with intermittent polls to see if the knowledge is effectively transferring to the students, takes individual questions during breaks.
values student input, student questions, student growth.