I took this class several semesters ago and had a very different experience than some of the previous reviews would indicate. In my experience, Prof Heller was very knowledgeable about the content and more than willing to explain difficult concepts multiple times to make sure that her students understood. I have no background in science but this course was a fascinating and reasonable introduction to biology.
Professor Heller is a really nice person and very kind. But she honestly does not know much about Global Health & Ecology. Not to mention the course itself is actually biology, microbiology, and global health & ecology. Professor Heller does not know much about the topics, most of what we learned was very surface level. I learned stuff I've learned in other classes but worse. This class wasn't particularly difficult and the lab was pretty fun. Take it if you want, but be warned!
I would not recommend taking this class. Personally, I took it to fulfill my science lab requirement and it certainly did not make me want to take any more science classes. Heller is a perfectly nice person, but she does not come off as particularly knowledgeable in biology, especially when she fails to answer almost any question asked by students during lecture. It’s as if she memorized the information contained within her slides and has no knowledge outside of that. I have no desire to unnecessarily bash her, but that is the experience that my peers and I *generally* had. I found the exams to be very difficult and hard to study for, with the exception of the final. If you are a science major looking to fulfill the “thinking through global inquiry” requirement or you are otherwise very well-versed in biology, this class is probably a decent -- albeit boring and occasionally frustrating -- way to do it. However, if you aren’t a fan of biology or tend to struggle in science classes, I would not recommend it in the slightest. Overall: boring lectures, difficult exams, less than stellar prof.
The class was fairly boring, though the professor is pretty sweet most of the time. You do have to go to the class because she does a fill in of the slides during class, and she gives more information than the readings. If you need to fill a requirement this course is super easy. If you're actually trying to learn biology just bump up to 1500
Do not take this class. My other classmates and I find Heller ridiculously unhelpful and she has no idea how to answer questions asked in class. Her lectures are completely different from the reading, but of course her shitty lectures are what she tests on. She cannot explain basic concepts in biology well, and it's rather sad. Her exams are nearly impossible to study for because of the random questions she asks. I really regret taking this class and feel like I would've been way better off taking a 1500 bio class with a better prof.
Ridiculously unhelpful, boring material, tests with irrelevant material. She called Africa a country.
Dr. Heller is a wonderful lab instructor and i disagree with all the negative reviews previously written. I look forward to bio lab every week because she is so kind and caring. She has a genuine love for biology which is evident in the way she looks out for all of her students to ensure we understand the experiments. She creates a very relaxed and chilled out environment in the lab which allows for casual conversation as well as stimulating discussions. Personally i have major problems with computers and statistical analysis but without hesitation she is willing to help. She doesn't expect your experiments to be flawless and understands if you mess up a bit. All around great experience and i'd recommend taking her section.
Professor Heller does not treat students with the same respect she reserves for adults, and is often condescending. In the lab environment, Professor Heller is unsure of herself and a harsh grader. I have also received misinformation concerning exams from Professor Heller. Nearly everyone P/F her class, not because the material is difficult, but because Professor Heller is a nightmare of a teacher. Contemporary Issues in Biology has been the worst class I have taken at Barnard/Columbia thus far. Though the course material is incredibly useful to know, many students choose not to come to class and claim that Professor Heller relays inaccurate information. It is incredibly unfortunate that Professor Heller is one of the only professors teaching introductory biology. This course has a lot of potential, and Professor Heller does not come close to doing the material any justice. Avoid Professor Heller if at all possible.
I really don't understand why she gets such a bad rep. Other than being a bit monotonous, she's not bad at all. The material is straight forward and her lectures summarize absolutely everything. I read the textbook as well and I was golden. If you've taken bio in high school you will breeze through this class. Even though lab was just irritating, it definitely wasn't difficult. This is an entirely doable class and she is very helpful at office hours. I don't know why people dislike her so much. I found the class pretty straight-forward.
She is boring. The class material is boring, but she is even more boring. The grading for labs is barely explain and when you go to the instructors, they confuse you even more. People I know get low grades and P/D/F the next semester, if take it at all. Professor Heller is a nice person, but boy is she unhelpful! When you come into her lecture, you see a bunch of slides and her talking on the background. Well, if you hadn't read the book the night before, she will make no sense. So read the book - then at least you will understand what on this planet Professor Heller is talking about!
This is possibly the worst class I have ever taken at my time at Barnard (three years). She does not know or understand how to teach a course, let alone biology. I am better off skipping every class and teaching myself (which is what I do anyway). She does not prepare you for any test nor does she teach the material well. I leave lecture being more confused and angry than I was before I got there. She cannot explain any question asked in class well and once she even laughed at a girl who asked how we are supposed to identify an answer on the test. All she said was "practice more." I do not recommend this class to anybody. The tests are hard and the lectures are pointless. I did not learn a thing
Professor Heller is the worst teacher. I took this class because it was supposed to be meant for students who just wanted to get through the lab science requirement. Professor Heller would send out the notes the day before with huge pieces missing and then read the slides. I would be so busy copying the notes that I didn't hear anything she said. It was also really hard to study for the exams because there was no way to know what kinds of questions she would ask. Every exam the average was between a C- and a B-, you would think that would tip her off to the fact that no one was understanding her but she doesn't seem to realize or mind.
This class was downright awful. I took it because my adviser said that Bio 1001 was the best class for people who aren't "scientifically inclined" - such a lie! While Prof. Heller seems to be a nice person, she has no clue how to teach. When asked to explain something differently, she would say the exact same explanation, but slower. She never seemed to think that 25pt curve on every single exam might indicate that we didn't get what she was teaching. She would spend an incredibly long time on something as mundane and simple as Punnett squares, and then zip through photosynthesis in two lectures. Her exam questions made no sense and it was pretty much impossible to study for. I spent more time on this class than I did for the two classes I took for my major combined, and I still had to PDF to do okay. Ridiculous. I'm so pissed I have to take Bio 1002 next semester to fulfill my requirement.
This class was such a waste of time, and Professor Heller didn't make it any better. Her excuse for repeatedly not knowing answers to questions was "I'm not a doctor." Her exam questions came out of left field, and the fact that we required 25-point curves on exams for a couple people to get As never really sunk in with her. I would definitely not take this class with her again- she has no idea how to teach biology to non-science majors.
I've had an awful time in this class, and I came in with a lot of biology from high school. I think the number of people P/D/F this classes speaks for itself. She seems like a perfectly nice person but her lectures are dreadfully boring (and repetitive, you can seriously come in 15 minutes late and not miss a thing because she's recapping the entire lecture from the class before). All the power points are put on courseworks. I could have dealt if the class was boring but what really gets me is the exams. She does an awful job of indicating what material is actually going to be on the exams. This semester for example we spent over a week talking about HIV, plus a lab that focused on it. Then on a 50 question midterm, there were 3, maybe, questions on HIV. It makes it a really frustrating course to study for because even if you study exactly what she tells you to, and not be prepared for the exam (not to mention she frequently has to re-write questions in the middle of the test because someone points out a question that makes no sense). No one cares (no ever shows up to class) because they're only there to fulfill their science requirement and she doesn't get that. I will be so glad when this class is over.
this class is NOT easy! she does not know everything about the subjects and it shows! she is not very approachable, but tries to be. her exams are all curved because the test is good for bio majors! it is impossible to leave all the studying for the night before the exams because they are HARD! thankfully she curves so the damage is not completely terrible! the final was very challenging because the cumulative portion has very specific questions even though she said it was going to be on the "big ideas." overall, i would recommend it if you are interested in the material because you do learn a lot, but it is not the easiest way to fulfill the science requirement.