Anita Woods


Assistant Professor
Chair of Undergrad Studies

BSc Honors in Genetics, Western University
PhD Skeletal Physiology, Western University

Office:  Medical Sciences Building 208
p. 519.661.4007
f. 519.850.3827


See Publications by Anita Woods on PubMed

Why Science?

In grade 8 a teacher told me that I will never be good at science because I am a girl. I wasn’t angry about it, I just accepted it because he was a teacher, so I thought he must know things. After that, only in grade 11, I decided to take a risk and enroll in a chemistry course because I was interested in it. To my surprise, I was good at it, and I was beating grade 12 students in it. I decided to sign up for a biology course as well, and I loved it, and I thought maybe I can be good at science, and that is when my love for science started.

I come from an ethnic group that believed that education is frivolous and did not encourage children to go to beyond grade school. However, my parents separated from that type of thinking, and I was allowed to continue my education. That made me see education as power, and I understood how unique of a privilege it was, and I was thankful to my parents for allowing this to happen. I was addicted to school and wanted to learn as much as I could, so after high school, I decided to go on to obtain an undergraduate degree at Western University. At university, I saw education as a privilege and something that I was allowed to do while other people couldn’t do, and I saw how much of a difference that made. I originally wanted to be a high school biology and chemistry teacher, but after I finished my undergraduate degree, I didn’t feel like I was done with school. I didn’t want to leave so soon, and I was advised to stay for a Master's degree because it would help with my teaching career trajectory. I started my Master's degree with Dr. Beier because he seemed supportive, and I recognized that I needed a supervisor who could mentor me since I had no idea what graduate school and research was about. I wanted to research in molecular sciences because I loved genetics and biochemistry; therefore Dr. Beier’s lab was a perfect fit for me. It was a great environment to learn in, and I was encouraged to transfer to Ph.D. Throughout my graduate school experience, the desire to teach had never left me, and as soon as I started my graduate school I became a TA for the physiology 2130 course, and I loved it.

Teaching Goals:

During my graduate school, I realized that learning how to learn is a skill, and this is what drives me now with students. It is great if students like what I am teaching and the content of the courses, but my bigger goal is to teach them to learn how to learn and to find joy in learning. I also want students to understand the privilege that education provides because not everyone realizes that education is powerful, and not everyone has access to it.

Undergraduate Teaching:

PHYS 1021– Introduction to Human Physiology (instructor)
PHYS 3120 – Human Physiology (course manager)
PHYS/PHARM 3000E –Physiology & Pharmacology Laboratory (lab rotation instructor)
PHYS/PHARM 4980E – Seminar and Research Project (course committee member)

Most Rewarding Moments:

I had a student who struggled and failed my first-year course. She came to my office and told me that she thought it may be best to drop out of the program because she didn’t think she was smart enough. I talked her down, and together we identified some mistakes she did in trying to learn. She made herself busy with learning by rereading notes over and over again and rewriting material, but she was not actually learning by doing that. She was busy, but not productive. I suggested that she implement some more efficient strategies for learning, and she tried that out and ended up passing the course the second time around, but what was more important is that she gained confidence. It drives me to see confidence develop in students and to empower students to be able to succeed. That student is now in her desired career, and I am so glad she did not talk herself out of it. I was just in the right place at the right time for that student to help her understand what she’s capable of, and that is what drives me.

Advice to Students From A Professor’s POV:

Do not do the things that you think you should be doing or what is expected of you but pursue the things that give you joy. Do not be ashamed of what gives you joy and do not think that it is not a valuable thing to do. I do not talk about happiness; happiness is a passing thing, it goes away, but joy is unique and deep-rooted, and that’s what I want students to find.

Interests outside of Academia:

I like to bake treats with my kids and to hang out with my family to play LEGO® and to go on family nature walks. I used to be a part of musical theatre before, but it is time-consuming, so I cannot do it at the moment, so instead I sing randomly, even sometimes in the middle of lecture. I relieve stress by weightlifting and going for walks.

Awards and Recognitions:

March 2017 – Western's Teaching with Technology Award
May 2015 – Schulich Award of Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching - Leader Award
April 2013 – Marilyn Robinson Teaching Award
April 2013 – OUSA Teaching Award