As a child, David Taylor was encouraged to play outdoors.
“I have good memories of living in Germany and finding newts and frogs in the forest,” he said. “When my family moved to the United States, we had the privilege of a relatively large yard, which I remember exploring extensively. This curiosity of mine for the natural world never left me, so when it was time to choose a major in college, it was a no-brainer for me.”
Although Taylor wasn’t surprised about majoring in biology, discovering that he liked teaching was a shock.
“While I was working on my master’s degree at Binghamton University in upstate New York, I was thrust in charge of a zoology laboratory full of undergraduate students as a teaching assistant. I dreaded the appointment a little bit beforehand but ended up loving it,” he said. “It is difficult to describe the powerful satisfaction and joy I get from helping a student learn something new. Having good teachers who help students work through the important concepts of biology is vital for a functioning society. I am honored to get to do this every day.”
Taylor has been inspired by the teachers and professors he had and tries to model aspects of his own teaching style after them.
“I can distinctly remember those important moments in a particular class when an idea finally made sense to me, when suddenly I felt I understood what the professional biologists were talking about. Without the patience, wisdom and passion of many of my teachers, I may never have experienced those moments of enlightenment,” he said. “I may never be as good a teacher as my instructors of undergraduate ecology, undergraduate botany or high school government, but their effect on me never ceases to inspire me to try.”
In addition to teaching at College of DuPage, Taylor also taught majors and non-majors biology at Elmhurst College and environmental biology and vertebrate zoology at Aurora University. He wants his students to derive a feeling of connection with other living things through his classes.
“In zoology and botany, we study all the different kinds of plants and animals that have evolved to populate our earth. The diversity is staggering and beautiful!” he said. “However, at basic levels, life is pretty much the same. It’s all composed of cells, whose activities are controlled by a molecule called DNA, which is constantly reproducing itself and trying out new configurations. The idea that we share exact configurations of a great deal of our DNA with things like chimpanzees, snails and pine trees is a very powerful one.
“In a more general sense, I hope students walk out of my class with a sense of satisfaction at having studied and understood concepts that were new to them. I hope this empowers them to become life-long learners and not be nervous about tackling ‘difficult’ subjects like biology and chemistry.”