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Erin McKenney

Headshot of Erin McKenney

Dean's Award for Excellence in Teaching

Faculty Adviser: Anne D. Yoder


Erin McKenney joined Duke’s biology Ph.D. program after completing her master’s in animal science at North Carolina State in 2011. While at Duke, she has served as a teaching assistant five times and served as an instructor of record and co-instructor for two courses. McKenney has participated in The Graduate School’s Preparing Future Faculty Program and is currently completing the Certificate in College Teaching.

McKenney invests a significant amount of time in science outreach. For the past six years, she has served as a natural science instructor to rising high school seniors at the Governor’s School of North Carolina. She developed a science education partnership with a local inner-city middle school and also engages in outreach at museums in Raleigh, Durham, and Charlotte. She also travelled to Washington, D.C., to advocate for federal support for biological research and education through the American Institute for Biological Sciences’ annual Congressional Visits event. 


“The teachers who have made the most difference in my life treated me as an intellectual peer. … It’s really empowering to be treated that way as the student. And as an instructor … I’ve always been surprised at the unique ideas that come out of those discussions that I lead when I treat students as peers.”

On Empowering Students Early
On What She Has Learned As a Teacher
On the Final Project in Her Class


“Erin’s dedication to science education and policy is evident by her self-motivated involvement in public and political arenas.  And in everything that she does, Erin is kind, thoughtful and generous.  Her peers regard her with both affection and respect.”

“Erin was a fantastic TA. I loved her presentations of the material before each lab—it was really helpful for understanding the lab, but also really helpful for clarifying information learned in lecture. She was also extremely willing to meet outside of lab, and outside of her normal office hours.”

“Erin is a natural teacher—very engaging, cares about students, and explains concepts in a relatable way. … She is a visual learner like I am and always made sure to draw pictures/diagrams to help us understand procedures, which made labs easier and more fun.”

“She is the most enthusiastic and knowledgeable TA that I have had in a science class at Duke!”

“Erin is passionate about biology and I think that is her greatest strength. She was well-prepared with outside examples of more interesting items and knew how to explain the more challenging parts of the lab at the beginning to help the rest of the process.”