October 12, 2023

Marine Biology

Graduate Student Teaching Assistant

Position Announcement

Position Title: Teaching Assistant

Supervising Faculty: Professor Julia Parrish

Course Name: MARBIO 305: Scientific Writing in Marine Biology

Employment Period: 12/16/2023 – 3/15/2024

The Degree: Marine Biology offers a Bachelor of Science Degree (BS) in Marine Biology housed within the College of the Environment. The degree is a unique collaboration between the School of Oceanography and the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, in partnership with the Friday Harbor Laboratories.

The Class: MARBIO 305 is focused on giving students (especially incoming students and sophomores) the skills and the confidence to communicate science well in written form.  This is NOT a course about writing manuscripts for submission to scientific journals.  Rather, it is a course about writing every class period, and hopefully inbetween.

Communication requires writing skills!  Can you really tell the difference between an analogy and a metaphor (is there a difference…)?  When is the last time you looked up a word, or challenged yourself to use an expanded vocabulary, or even checked to make sure you haven’t used the same word five times in a single paragraph?  This course starts with writing mechanics and description, and moves towards flow, message and story.

To communicate science broadly, writers must understand what scientists, speaking via peer-reviewed publications, are saying.  A major facet of the course is figuring out how to read and interpret scientific publications – how to parse an abstract, how to interpret a graphic, how to pick main messages out of a discussion. 

And finally, because most science communication is not scientist-to-scientist, the last third of the course explores long-form (1,000 word blog) and short-form (135 word 1-minute radio piece) science communication to the public.

In between, the class engages in image-driven free-writes during every class period.  Yup.  That’s a lot off writing! 

The Job: Marine Biology needs to hire two Teaching Assistants for MARBIO 305.

TAs will be providing students with strongly positive, highly operational feedback on their weekly writing, including:

  • copy editing (spelling, grammar, simple mechanics)
  • pushing vocabulary, phrasing and flow
  • helping assemble message and story
  • reworking of student “free writes” to demonstrate editing comments

Practically, this means that TAs should expect to spend 12-15 hours weekly editing and commenting out student’s work.  Given that we have ~50 students, this means that TAs must be efficient, able to quickly read and understand where the student is, and be able to help them with short, focused summaries (e.g., 1-2 things they are doing well; 2 things they should concentrate on this week with specific examples to assist their learning).

Successful candidates will already be confident writers and editors, with experience writing for lay audiences.  Evidence of writing experience would be in the form of newsletter, blog, or other public audience writing (please be ready to submit samples!).  Evidence of editing experience could include writing feedback provided to students in other classes, at a writing center, or as an editor in a student-run outlet such as Field Notes, or Currents.

Course Schedule: Lecture: M W, 3:30 – 4:50 PM

(Note: TA attendance during all lectures is required)

TA responsibilities include:

  • Attend class; workshop with the students, provide one-on-one feedback
  • Help maintain course Canvas page
  • Meet with the instructional team (2TAs and instructor) weekly to review, recap andd plan ahead
  • Hold weekly office hours (can be used as editing time if no students show)
  • Hold special editing sessions in advance of major assignment due dates
  • Edit and comment out a 20-40 pieces of student work weekly (varies over the quarter)
  • Optional: teach at least one class session


  • Academic standing as a UW Graduate Student and eligibility to hold a Graduate Student Assistantship
  • Availability for full appointment timeframe and available for the time the course is offered
  • Demonstrations of excellent written, verbal and interpersonal communication skills

Equivalent education/experience will substitute for all minimum qualifications except when there are legal requirements, such as a license/certification/registration.

Compensation: This is a GSA position governed by the UAW contract paid in accordance with 2022-2023 TA/RA/SA salary schedules.

To apply:

Please send an email to jkob@uw.edu with the subject MARBIO 305 Winter 2024 TA and your last name.

Attach to the email a single PDF document that includes:

  1. A cover letter describing the strengths you would bring to serving as a teaching assistant in this course, as well as your strengths and background relevant to the specific activities outlined in the position and course description.
  2. A current resume that includes your work history and academic accomplishments of no more than two pages.
  3. Two references (name, title, phone, email) familiar with your teaching abilities.

Deadline: Priority application deadline of Wednesday, 10/18/23 5:00 PM Pacific.

Notes: This job classification is governed by a negotiated labor contract.

The University of Washington is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer. https://ap.washington.edu/eoaa/aapolicy/

To request disability accommodation in the application process, contact Disability Services Office, https://hr.uw.edu/dso/services/ 206-543-6450, 206-543-6452 (TTY) or dso@uw.edu