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Geoff Benn

Geoff Benn, Ph. D.


Academic Coordinator

Department of Plant Biology
College of Biological Sciences
University of California Davis

I am the Academic Coordinator and an Instructor for Biological Sciences 2C at UC Davis. I am responsible for supervising all course labs, hiring and training of lab TAs, and general course administration. I also assist course instructors with implementation of new teaching methods and technologies, contribute to revision of the lab curriculum, and support efforts to analyze and interpret student performance data.


Research Interests

An important learning objective of BIS2C is that students should become familiar with major taxa from across the tree of life. One benefit of achieving this goal is that students should be able to go outside and know something about the general characteristics of most of the organisms they encounter.


We assess whether students have achieved this learning objective through questions on the lab practical exam that require placement of live organisms into the correct taxonomic group. Analysis of lab practical results have shown that these questions are particularly challenging for our students.


In order to try to improve student performance in this area, I have worked with collaborators on campus to develop an app that allows students to go outside and independently find and attempt to identify plants and animals. This app has been implemented as an optional extra credit assignment. I will be examining what impact, if any, completing the assignment has on performance on lab practical questions requiring ID of live organisms.



Benn, G., Bjornson, M.., Ke, H., de Souza, A., Balmond, E., Shaw, J., Dehesh K. (2016). The plastidial metabolite MEcPP induces a transcriptionally centered stress response hub via the transcription factor CAMTA3. Proc Natl. Acad. Sci. 113(31):8855-60


Benn G., Dehesh K. (2016) Quantitative analysis of cis-regulatory element activity using synthetic promoters in transgenic plants. Methods in Molecular Biology. 1482:15-30.


Cigan, M., Singh, M., Benn, G., Feigenbutz, L., Kumar, M., Svitashev, S., Young, J. (2016). Targeted mutagenesis of a conserved anther-expressed P450 gene confers male sterility in monocots. Plant Biotechnol. J. 15(3): 379 – 389.
Benn G, Wang C, Hicks D, Stein J, Guthrie C, Dehesh K. (2014). A key general stress response motif is regulated non-uniformly by CAMTA transcription factors. Plant J. 80(1): 82-92.


Bjornson M, Benn G, Song X, Comai L, Franz A, Dandekar A, Drakakaki G, Dehesh K. (2014). Distinct roles for mitogen-activated protein kinase signaling and CALMODULIN-BINDING TRANSCRIPTIONAL ACTIVATOR3 in regulating the peak time and amplitude of the plant general stress response. Plant Physiol. 166(2):988-96.


Spink, B., Bennett, J., Pentecost, B., Lostritto, N., Englert, N., Benn, G., Goodenough, A., Turesky, R., Spink, D. (2009) Long-term estrogen exposure promotes carcinogen bioactivation, induces persistent changes in gene expression, and enhances the tumorigenicity of MCF-7 human breast cancer cells. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 240: 355-366.


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