Alick Tan, PhD student

While pursuing a doctorate degree at the School of Pharmacy, Alick Tan discovered a surprising passion outside of what he was working on in the lab: teaching.

“As a graduate student, I assisted with teaching courses in the Doctor of Pharmacy program as part of my degree requirement,” says Tan, who is currently a 3rd year student in the Clinical and Experimental Therapeutics PhD program. “I thought this was unusual since I had no professional degree, much less any experience or instruction in the pharmacy profession.”

2013 USC SpringAlthough he was initially apprehensive, he quickly learned how to make the most of the experience both for himself and his students.

“As my first foray into any sort of teaching position, I didn’t know what to expect, but I found that by putting myself into my students’ shoes, I could resonate with them just as my teachers had resonated with me.”

In addition to working as a TA, Tan helped organize health fairs where pharmacy students participated in educating the local community about public health issues.

“I worked with the pharmacy students, side by side, to ensure they could communicate important health information coherently through their posters and presentation styles.”

He also mentors high school students through the USC Science Technology and Research (STAR) Program, which pairs young scientists with a mentor to produce a hypothesis-driven research project.

For his dedication to teaching others, Tan was one of only 15 graduate students chosen to be a Center for Excellence in Teaching Teaching Assistant Fellow. The one-year program works to enhance TA instruction across the university. According to the CET, TA Fellows collaborate to combine their personal teaching expertise with research on best practices and then deliver it to all.

“Teaching has been an eye-opening experience for me, and I look forward to having a positive impact on the teaching experience at USC through the CET fellowship program,” says Tan.

Tan’s research focuses on developing novel therapeutics for neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, which he pursues under the mentorship of Dr. Kathy Rodgers. His other academic pursuits include regulatory affairs, with an M.S. degree in Regulatory Sciences. Tan was previously awarded the Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award for the CXPT program, and served as co-chair of this year’s Moving Targets symposium.