Brian Sato

picture of Brian  Sato

Associate Teaching Professor, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry
School of Biological Sciences
Interim Associate Dean, Division of Teaching Excellence and Innovation

Ph.D., University of California, San Diego, 2008, Cell Biology
B.A., University of California, Berkeley, 2003, Molecular and Cell Biology

Phone: (949) 824-0661

University of California, Irvine
2238 McGaugh Hall
Mail Code: 3900
Irvine, CA 92697
Research Interests
Discipline-based education research, Biology, STEM
Research Abstract
My research goals, while varied, focus on how we can improve STEM education at the undergraduate level. Currently, my group is focused on three projects:

(1) Examining the impact of teaching faculty across the UC system - While considerable effort has been spent in the recent past to identify means to increase success in the classroom for STEM undergraduates, particularly at-risk students, a major challenge has been how to disseminate these methods on a broader scale. One potential means to accomplish this is through change agents, faculty that are embedded within departments that can act as resources to implement new teaching methods. The University of California has a unique faculty line, the Lecturer with Security of Employment/Teaching Professor, and we are currently exploring whether these faculty are successful change agents.

(2) Exploring the impact of Instructor Exam Feedback - Utilizing exams as teaching tools provides an additional opportunity to improve student understanding and highlights that learning is an ongoing experience rather than one terminated upon exam completion. Previous examples in higher education highlight the potential value of this activity, but the question is how to accomplish this in a personalized manner in high enrollment courses with an instructor-student model rather than relying on peer to peer feedback. We are currently assessing the impact of exam feedback system where the instructor providing written feedback for incorrect midterm answers. The students then had the opportunity to engage in a discussion about this feedback with the professor through email. We are examining the impact on student understanding of the tested concepts for those who did and did not respond to the feedback, and are exploring student attitudes about the process from data gathered through surveys and interviews.

(3) Examining the effectiveness of a light-touch study skills intervention - It is important that we focus not only on altering classroom instruction, but also providing students with the tools to maximize their independent learning time as well. There has been considerable work in laboratory settings examining self-regulated study with two particularly beneficial practices for enhancing learning being self-testing and spacing. We are investigating whether a light-touch study skills intervention, which presents students with information about self-testing and spacing and weekly reminders to implement them in course preparation, impacts study behaviors and performance in large enrollment courses. Additionally, we are exploring whether we can approximate student behaviors by examining their activity across the quarter using the class learning management systems.
Rodriguez F, Rivas MJ, Matsumura LH, Warschauer M, Sato BK. “How do students study in STEM courses? Findings from a light-touch intervention and its relevance for underrepresented students.” PLOS ONE. 2018. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0200767.
Xu, D, Solanki, S, McPartlan, P, Sato BK. “EASEing Students into College: The Impact of
Multidimensional Support for Underprepared Students.” Educational Researcher. May
21, 2018
Sato BK, Ding-Dang D, Cruz-Hinojoza E, Denaro K, Hill CFC, Williams A. “Impact of
Instructor Exam Feedback on Student Understanding in a Large Enrollment Biology Course.” BioScience. 2018 August, 68(8): 601-611.
Sato BK, Lee AK, Alam U, Dang JV, Dacanay SJ, Morgado P, Pirino G, Brunner JE, Castillo LA, Chan VW, Sandholtz JH. “What’s in a prerequisite? A mixed-methods approach to identifying the impact of a prerequisite course.” CBE Life Sciences Education. March 1, 2017 (16) doi: 10.1187/cbe.16-08-0260.
Kram KE, Yim KM, Coleman AB, Sato BK. “Battle of the Bacteria: Real-time Evolution in the Microbiology Laboratory.” J. Microbiology and Biology Education. 2016 (17): 261-268.
Sato BK, Alam U, Dacanay SJ, Lee AK, Shaffer JF. “Brewing for Students: An Inquiry-Based Microbiology Lab.” J. Microbiology and Biology Education. 2015 (16): 223-229.
Shaffer JF, Dang JV, Lee AK, Dacanay SJ, Alam U, Wong HY, Richards, GJ, Kadandale P, Sato BK. “A familiar(ity) problem: Assessing the impact of prerequisites and content familiarity on student learning.” PLOS ONE. 2016. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0148051.
Sato BK, He W, Warschauer, M, Kadandale P#. “The Grass Isn’t Always Greener:
Perceptions and Performance on Open Note Exams.” CBE Life Sciences Education. 2015 Summer (14): 1-10.
Sato BK, Kadandale P, He W, Murata PMN, Latif Y, Warschauer M. "Practice Makes Pretty Good: Assessment of Primary Literature Reading Abilities across Multiple Large-Enrollment Biology Laboratory Courses." CBE Life Sciences Education. 2014 Winter; (13): 677-686.
Sato, BK. "Attack of the Killer Fungus: A Hypothesis-Driven Lab Module." J Microbiology & Biology Education. 2013 December; (14): 230-237.
Noree C, Sato BK, Broyer RM, Wilhelm JE. “Identification of novel filament-forming
proteins in Sacharomyces cerevisiae and Drosophila melanogaster.” J Cell Biol.
2010 August 16; (190): 541-551.
Sato BK, Schulz D, Do PH, and Hampton RY. "Misfolded Membrane Proteins are
Specifically Recognized by the Transmembrane Domain of the Hrd1p Ubiquitin
Ligase." Molecular Cell. 2009 April 24; (34): 212-222.
Garza RM, Sato BK, Hampton RY. "In Vitro Analysis of Hrd1p-mediated
Retrotranslocation of Its Multispanning Membrane Substrate 3-Hydroxy-3-
methylglutaryl (HMG)-CoA Reductase." Journal of Biological Chemistry. 2009
May 29; (284):14710-14722.
Sato BK and Hampton RY. "Yeast Derlin Dfm1 interacts with Cdc48 and functions
in ER homeostasis." Yeast. 2006 Oct-Nov; (23):1053-1064.
NSF IUSE: Assessing the Impact of Teaching Faculty in STEM Institutional Transformation (2016-2019)
NSF IUSE: STEM Teaching Faculty as a Mechanism to Promote Institutional Transformation through the Implementation of Evidence-Based Teaching Practices (2018-2023)
Research Center
UCI Education Research Initiative (Director)
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