Ann Burgess on Tea Time and Group Seminars, Harvard University
  Ann Burgess     Biography    
Recorded: 29 Apr 2005
Well, it was everyday. I think it was 4 o’clock when we had tea. Well, in fact—as I remember it wasn’t hot tea. It was half lemonade and half tea. And we sit around drinking tea—he brought that from England except there they probably have hot tea. We would sit—everyday, whatever anybody was doing they would make sure that their experiment was at a stopping point so you could go have tea at 4 o’clock and talk about whatever was going on. So it might be—somebody had been to a meeting or been away and heard something new and they would bring it up. Or it might be somebody talking about what they were doing with their own work. Or it might be some movie they saw. I mean the topic—it might be some political thing. It was just a very exciting time to sit there and listen and participate.

The other thing I remember is the group seminars. They’re kind of—I put these all together in my head because they were the things that were part of the atmosphere of what we were doing as graduate students. People had to present their work for the Watson/Gilbert group. They said sort of informal things that were in progress but people were really, really scared when they had to do it because people asked very hard questions. Jim would sit there and say, “How many times did you do that experiment?”

But it made people critical of their own results and mutually critical in a supportive way of each other’s results. If you had given a seminar in front of the Watson/Gilbert group and survived, you could give a seminar anywhere so it also developed people’s confidence.

There was a very much an atmosphere of people being critical of each other in a supportive way. But you had to be sure about what you were doing and what you were saying and what your results are.

Ann Burgess is the Director Emeritus of the Biology Core Curriculum. She earned her B.S. in chemistry from UW-Madison and her Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular biology from Harvard University. She was a Senior Lecturer at the University of Wisconsin-Madison from 1987 to 2002.

Biology Core Curriculum is four semester intercollege honors program that provides a broad and integrated background for students interested in any field of biological science. She is interested in undergraduate science education with a particular accent on laboratory and filed experiences that absorb students in process of science.

Ann Burgess is running in several UW-Madison and national efforts to advance science education, including the BioQUEST Consortium and the National Institute of Science Education's College Level One team.