Education, Science

Top 10 Tips to Boost Your Learning

Back in 2015, I took an online course on Coursera called “Learning How to Learn” but didn’t get a chance to blog about it. It’s a wonderful course; it taught me lot about how the brain works when you’re learning something. In light of my current pursuits in neuroscience, learning is one of the many topics I am interested in (along with neurodegenerative diseases, mood disorders, and motor neuron diseases).

The course is free, and you can check it out anytime! I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to improve their ability to learn new things.

I made PowerPoint slides for each of the four weeks in the course to help me take notes on the course material. Instead of sharing these slides here, I decided to put together a short list of the most helpful bits of advice.

Here we go!

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Education, Sketchnotes

The Only Book You’ll Ever Need to Study

After reading through Stella Cottrell’s incredible book, The Study Skills Handbook, I learned so much about how I learn best and how I can implement strategies to help me study smart, not hard. I found this book at my campus bookstore, and I highly recommend it to all learners – not just college students. Although I’m not a freshman student (and the book is very much freshman-oriented), there were a few chapters with surprisingly useful advice and tips that I felt were relevant for my studies.

Continue reading “The Only Book You’ll Ever Need to Study”

Education, Sketchnotes

A Review of A Few iPad Apps for Sketchnoting


As promised in a previous post, today I’m going to talk about some apps that I have tried out on my iPad tablet to sketchnote during my class lectures. Before I start, I should note that I have an Adonit Jot Classic stylus, and I’ve found it to be really easy to work with and use as long as: a) I have a sleeve on my hand to prevent my palm from interacting with the app as I’m working, or b) the app has some sort of built-in “guard” to prevent my wrist or palm from interacting with the app. There are fancier styluses with built-in Bluetooth that do the latter, but as I don’t have money to buy one and I already have a functioning stylus, I’m content using a jacket sleeve (maybe a fingerless glove would work better?).

Continue reading “A Review of A Few iPad Apps for Sketchnoting”

Education, Science, Sketchnotes

How to Sketchnote Science


I have been researching and working on my own sketchnotes for quite some time, and I’m still trying to get the hang of it. Last semester, I tried sketchnoting to help me study in my cellular metabolism class. I kind of went through an “evolution” of sorts, where my formatting and style completely changed as I tried new things.

Check out the gallery below to see my progression!

Continue reading “How to Sketchnote Science”


Mind Palaces and Moonwalks

It’s thanks to my love for the BBC’s Sherlock Holmes adaptation, Sherlock, that I became fascinated with memory – how it works, where it goes wrong, and how it can be harnessed to make learning difficult and/or boring information easier (and more entertaining!). After seeing Sherlock’s “mind palace” come to life in the show, I decided to do some research of my own about this memory phenomenon. But it wasn’t until recently that I re-discovered my interest in the topic.

Continue reading “Mind Palaces and Moonwalks”

Education, Sketchnotes

Why I’m Going to “Sketchnote” & Why You Should Too!

Before I start talking about sketchnoting, I am pleased to announce that this is my 100th post here on WordPress! Hooray! What a milestone! :)

So! I first came across sketchnoting as a learning tool back in July of 2013 (and blogged about it!), but although I really liked the idea, I wasn’t sure how to go about using it for school – especially since virtually all of my required coursework consists of science classes.

Continue reading “Why I’m Going to “Sketchnote” & Why You Should Too!”


Two Important Things I’ve Learned in Two Weeks

As of January 7th, the spring semester of my senior year has begun. It’s been a little more than two weeks, and throughout my classes, I have learned two very important things about my academic career. In keeping with my recently blogged theme about education, I would like to explore each of these things one at a time. (Perhaps writing about it will help organize my thoughts as well.)

First, everything that I have experienced so far in my undergraduate career and everything that I will experience in the future as a medical student in medical school is essential for my growth as an independent adult. School is not just about learning; there are dozens of skills that a student learns throughout his or her education besides things like calculus and writing lab reports. Although I am required to take classes that I don’t particularly like (such as physics, which I finished last semester!), the things that I have and will learn in these classes will become tools for me to use not only as a student, but also as a medical professional in the real world. Skills like analytical thinking, problem-solving, and integrating pieces of information are crucial not only for solving physics problems, but also in piecing together seemingly irrelevant symptoms to deliver a diagnosis. Therefore, as a student, I believe that it is important to keep an open mind for all of the classes that I have left to take – as well as for future experiences I will surely encounter as I get older.

Second, everything I am learning as a student of the sciences is connected, and much more complex than I could ever begin to imagine. In my classes this semester, I have had three epiphany-like moments with this idea (thus far).

In my Cellular Metabolism class, one of the first things the professor said to us was that everything we learned about glycolysis and the Krebs Cycle – two of the pathways required for metabolism and inside cells – was wrong! At first, I was surprised; what was he talking about? Well, as it turns out, it wasn’t that my knowledge of these pathways was inherently wrong; rather, it was that I was treating them as separate processes. See, inside cells, these two pathways feed into each other and are interconnected. Therefore, as my professor said, we cannot treat these pathways (among thousands of others that occur in biological systems) as being in their own little boxes.

My second experience occurred in yet another class that I’m taking this semester: Ecology. I was not particularly thrilled to take this class, as I didn’t particularly like Biology II (a prerequisite for Ecology). However, I’m surprised to say that I find this class interesting and more relevant to my future as a physician more than I did previously. From this class thus far, I learned that the lives of organisms are not only affected by their environment, but also by other organisms, and that separating these living and non-living factors from each other in order to study them completely is virtually impossible. Why? Because once again, these factors interact with one another and with living organisms in ways that we cannot completely understand.

Last but not least, my most recent epiphany occurred in my Honors College class. This particular class is about global sustainability, and it is taught by 11 different faculty from the Patel College of Sustainability. I consider myself privileged to be taught by these professors, as they only ever teach Masters and PhD students; this semester is the first time that this class has been offered. In the first lecture, which was presented by the Patel College’s Dean, I learned that the “big three” resources essential for human survival are water, food, and energy, and that in our world, they cannot be treated individually. For example, in order to transport water, energy is required. The food we grow also requires water, and transporting it also requires energy. Managing water, food, and energy as resources is an interdisciplinary effort that requires cooperation from everyone involved in each “sector,” so to speak. Engineers and farmers need to work together, because what they do is connected; even if they appear to speak different languages, their work is the same. Why?  Because they are seeking to establish the same thing: resources for our survival.

It has been 4 years since I started my university education, and I believe that I have come a long way in my mentality and maturity. I am quite excited and optimistic for this semester’s experiences, and I hope that I can continue to grow and learn not only as a student, but as a person.

Thank you for reading! :)


Education, Science

Biochemistry Manga? No Way!

In light of my newfound interest in biochemistry, I decided to find some books to read so that I can learn more about the subject (namely to study for the MCAT). There are dozens of books on the subject, I’m sure, but I find that when it comes to chemistry, I need something more than an ordinary textbook. (The only exception to this is Dr. George Klein’s two-volume organic chemistry book series, “Organic Chemistry as a Second Language” and his organic chemistry textbook. I highly recommend these to all organic chemistry students; they are a life saver!)

I recently came across  this manga guide series that features titles like “The Manga Guide to Physics” (wish I had this last semester!) and “The Manga Guide to Molecular Biology.” There are others as well, including “The Manga Guide to Biochemistry,” which particularly excited me! Naturally, I went and got my hands on a copy of this manga-style guide for the notoriously difficult subject of biochemistry. Not only does it introduce the reader to biochemistry in a slow and easy way, but it also covers the basics and leaves room for the knowledge-hungry student with enough starting material to search for more information and deepen their knowledge of the subject. (Like me!)

Once again, here is another topic of interest that relates to something I was exposed to in my university course, “Science in the Day of a Life,” which started this blog: using comics as a means of teaching children! With this manga guide series however, I believe this idea can be – or rather, it has already been – extended to older students who would like to (or should I say “have to?”) learn about subjects that are otherwise difficult. If learning can be made into something fun, then it becomes easier, right?

Here’s a sample page from “The Manga Guide to Biochemistry!”

I’ve already discussed how important it is that we find new ways to teach future generations of children, especially since the education paradigm is changing with the advent of increasingly social and information-laden technologies. Kids these days want to master these technologies for themselves, so why not take advantage of this interest in technology and make it a learning tool in classrooms everywhere? There, these technologies can encourage these kids to learn important skills and be able to apply them in the innovative ways that future employers will be looking for. Although comic books have been around for ages, it wasn’t until recently that the graphic novel or manga was introduced to the Western world. As a result, kids are growing up reading manga volumes (like me!). Why not use this passion for reading stories within manga and help kids learn and have fun while learning?

I have been interested in manga for quite some time, and have enjoyed many different series since I started reading them. I also love learning, and since it is my dream to become a successful physician, what better way to learn those tough subjects than a manga that is not only informational, but fun to read? What a great idea! (I’m on my way to mastering carbohydrate structure and naming! Woohoo!)

If you’re interested in learning more about how comics can be used as a teaching tool (not just for science, but for any subject!), check out these resources!