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By far the worst professor I have had at UCLA. She was rarely on time for class and very disorganized. I was really excited to take this class because I had such a great experience with my pre-req for the minor but I hated every minute I had to be in class. She does not set clear expectations for assignments and rarely grades them herself. Attendance is mandatory and one of our classmates was forced to come to class even though they were very ill because Austin was going to dock points for not coming to class. It is hard to get ahold of her over email and if you do she can be very rude and abrasive.
I want to make this review for any students in the minor taking 5HB with Professor Austin, just so they have this information beforehand.
First of all, there is significant evidence that she (or someone wanting to promote her) is spam-posting her own reviews. Read the other reviews—they do not sound like any student wrote them. Even other reviews on other classes are saying the other reviews are weirdly misleading. I say this not to bolster my own credibility but to warn you that the sentiments on this page absolutely do not reflect the sentiments of the students in her classes. Some highlights (just because I think they’re funny):
- “called for a lot of collaboration with peers through which I made amazing new friends”
- “be vocal in class (when appropriate) for answering questions or taking part in discussions”
- “Be creative and add some personal elements to yours! These presentations, while they may seem a little intimidating, become a great way to get to know your peers and relevant topics more.”
- “Overall a great, enthralling, and very informational class”
No student would write like that lol. There’s other evidence, but I won’t go into depth on that. I will give a fair review of the class.
First, the good. Professor Austin as a person is fairly nice to talk to. She is fairly approachable and the manner in which she explains information isn’t too bad. I also really liked the other students and community in the class.
However, I would say overall I definitely regret taking this class with Professor Austin. There are two main reasons: disorganization and lack of understanding the student’s perspective. From day 1, the syllabus she posted did not have any due dates, specific assignments, or grade cutoffs. Throughout the course, she would constantly edit and repost the syllabus with changing due dates and shifting assignments—and not tell anyone. For instance, the due date for the midterm project was shifted up a week beforehand, and students were not notified of this change. Only because someone in my discussion group told us did we know. Since the information shifts so much, almost every important piece of info was through word of mouth (“apparently we are on Zoom on Tuesdays now, not Thursdays. Someone else told me”). Never trust what she says either. She will say the quizzes are easy, they aren’t. She will say something will be graded easily, it won’t. Be maximally prepared for every assignment and every shift that may happen. “Expect every possibility” needs to be your mantra for this class, because things will constantly shift under you. She would tell us “you need to print these out by tomorrow” at 3 AM the night before. And then, we would never use the printouts. Once, she decided that we would be having an “optional quiz” and let us know, again, at weird hours the night before. No time to study. Then, it turns out the quiz definitely was not optional.
She also definitely has favorite students. She would call on them for everything, even without their hands raised, and praise them constantly. Even these students that she had favoritism towards did not like it. During our final presentations, she would say “now these next presentations are really good” about her favorites, disregarding the feelings of the several other students who had just gone. Speaking of the final presentations, make sure yours is PERFECT. These are graded insanely harshly. If you are imagining a number right now, drop it by 20%. This is secondhand information from talking to other students since she did not actually give us the grades back, just a final letter grade. She will also ask for positive and negative feedback from students on each presentation, and mark you down for what others say for their negatives. If you aren’t the “favorite presentation of the day” by your peers, you will not be getting an A on it. The other assignments almost don’t matter besides this presentation—make it perfect. Check it with her multiple times in OH, and confirm that different elements she would give a perfect grade for. She might still go back on that, but at least you have that leverage when she does (this happened to some of my friends). For other grading, the assignments the TA grades should be fine, just check with the TA. (Our TA would complain about her inconsistency as well, but in a professional way. I really loved our TA honestly, she made the class feel less like a slow motion car crash). Some assignments you do will not be calculated in your final grade, she might not even give you final scores back, and this class will be a lot of work. Especially work assigned last minute. A LOT OF WORK—I’m highlighting that.
I do want to say I’m not some troll that hated Prof. Austin and am using hyperbole and lies to vent, I am trying to make sure that other students are fully prepared for what to expect from this class. I got a grade I am happy with, but feel bad for other students that didn't and really did not like going through the class itself. Other students I would talk to in previous quarters would go “ohhh Dr. Austin LOL—yeah just bite the bullet on that one”. That is the general consensus. However, there were no Bruinwalk reviews until recently which really didn't help things. I will say, while there were some positive-ish aspects, this was probably one of the worst classes I’ve taken so far at UCLA. Not for the content, but the extreme expectations and disorganization. I sincerely do hope Prof. Austin improves in the future with feedback, but right now, it’s just best to be prepared. Also: to whoever is spam posting misleading reviews, please stop. I’m not sure why you’re doing it, but it is important for students to know what other students think about the class so they can make their own informed decisions.
TLDR: if you are in the minor, this isn't an easy A class. Be prepared for disorganization and a large workload.
I had a great experience with Professor Austin. The class included research seminars from UCLA faculty, learning about research techniques, how to effectively read scientific papers, write your own research proposal, and present your work. I looked forward to every lecture because of the supportive and passionate energy Professor Austin brought in. She made class a fun, interactive place and showed her commitment to teaching by asking for feedback often. I always felt comfortable to participate and ask questions during class. The assignments called for a lot of collaboration with peers through which I made amazing new friends. The class is structured in such a way that you gain a lot of knowledge during the beginning of the quarter and use it for assignments that are due towards the end. It is important to stay on top of work and reach out when you need help, and Professor Austin was always more than happy to provide guidance. I loved everything about this class!
I truly like Professor Austin's class because I found that 5HB exposed me to research concepts a lot. This class is doable, the workload is manageable if you plan ahead and do not wait until the last minute to finish your assignments. Expect to have a lot of homework, mini quizzes, and assignments, but keep in mind that the worksheets are mostly graded based on effort. Of all classes at UCLA, this class is one of the easiest classes I've taken so far. Professor Tina Austin cares a lot about her students but she was overwhelmed with a heavy workload so it seems like she doesn't have much time to reply to emails, so please be patient with her! If you have any difficulties, try to stay back after class and discuss directly with her, she always welcomes students and wants to know more about her students. If you email her but did not get a response, your email might be buried in tons of emails she receives every day. If you have difficulties but do not reach out to her or do not find other ways to reach out to her, I don't think it's her fault. This class is the hardest class in BMD Minor but it's completely doable! The worksheets are designed to help you to read scientific papers and review concepts, worksheets and quizzes are only worth a small grade distribution so don't stress about them too much. She is very flexible. Sometimes, she may change some quiz dates or small things but it won't affect everyone much overall. People only complained about some random small things that make them mad here but don't tell you what she has done for the class in general. According to a review above that she changed the quiz date. I agree, but that quiz was only worth 1% of the grade, she sent out a poll and everyone agreed to change the quiz date to a bit earlier so we would have fewer materials to study for the quiz and avoid conflicts for some folks in the class. There were so many times she changes to due dates to later, was super lenient with grading, and be flexible with deadlines, and offered tons of extra credits, no one even mentioned it here! People forgot to mention that our class had the worst TA ever because she did not teach us or help us with anything at all. She also did not grade our assignments until super late and our final research proposal depended on her grading. She graded harshly and did not follow the rubrics. Professor Austin had to step in and resolve all the issues caused by the TA without even complaining or telling the class overall. I think it's not fair if some people only complain about some small things that made them not happy but do not look at the overall results and what they have gained from the class.
Note: In class, you'll be introduced to a lot of new research concepts and if you have not been in any lab yet, you may be overwhelmed at first. However, her slides are usually very helpful and she repeats/reviews concepts a lot during class. She usually reviews old lecture materials before starting a new lecture, so try to pay attention in class, review the slides after class, and if there's anything you don't understand or want to discuss further, come to her OH! She loves talking with students in the OH, it's also the way she knows you personally and gives you many helpful advice. I have learned a lot from Professor Austin's OH. Or if you have time, pop by her OH to say hi to her is fine too!
This is a great class to start BMD Minor overall! Pay attention in class, allocate your time to start and finish the assignments properly, and go to OH are my tips to rock the class!
Dr. Austin's class was great because it exposed me to biomedical research concepts and techniques I was unfamiliar with. Don't get overly stressed on the quizzes and worksheets, the largest and most important component of this class is a research proposal that you write up and present. Working on your proposal as early as possible is important to having success in this class, especially if you have little experience with presenting or watching others present their research.
I really like Professor Austin, and the class. The class was fun and engaging, but there was a lot of HW and it was somewhat manageable. Overall, I really liked this class, and I would love to take any other class from her.
Worst professor I've ever had at UCLA (and I'm a MCDB major, rising senior, so I've taken some pretty tough classes with some pretty horrible professors). Super disorganized from the beginning, and two weeks into the course she decided to change our quiz date for no concrete reason - based on 'popular vote'. Yet when students stated that they would not be able to take the quiz on the new date due to conflicts, she stated that there would be an online option, but that we would be given 'significantly less time', as if that would somehow discourage us from taking that option, even if we had no other choice (once again did explain why we would be given less time online). In my opinion, a professor has to lead by example, and can't expect students to accommodate to multiple changes in deadlines, course structure, etc., while refusing to give students an INCH of leeway. When I asked WELL in advance if there was any way I could make up my attendance for a discussion section and lecture, due to a medical appointment, she did not even bother to respond, and my TA only responded the day after the section had already happened, only to state that "there is no makeup policy for this class". So are students simply expected to accept doing poorly in this class, not because of a lack of effort or poor academic performance, but because of extenuating circumstances they cannot control? Additionally, our assignments would randomly get regraded to lower grades with NO explanation, and the TA did not grade according to the rubric. Which meant that there was no consistency with grading, yet because this was such a small class, there weren't enough students to stand up to the professor or TA, without fear of retribution. Overall, poorly disorganized and if I had known this required class for the minor would have been taught like this, I would not have applied to the minor at all. Point blank period.
Overall, I have to admit, this class was not easy for me. The workloads were heavy and I spent a lot more time on this class than any other classes. Before getting into this class, I read all the comments about this class, and for some parts, I do agree. This class won't be exactly the class with clear due dates for the assignments or exams and oftentimes, there will be some confusion. However, I would also like to emphasize that this class is completely doable. You don't need to be scared or be intimidated. All you need to learn is how to allocate your time well. I know it's stressful and it was stressful for me too, but really talk to your professor, so that she could understand your hardships too. Dr. Austin is an understanding person and she truly cares about your learning. Some of the comments were saying how she has her favorites, but I honestly think that's because those people try hard to interact with her more during class time or during her office hours. Whenever you face difficulties, talk to her and ask her for advice. She'll try her best to accommodate. My final note is to put in your effort, try your best, and let Dr. Austin know you are trying then you will succeed in this class.
If you get a chance to take this class with Professor Austin, take it!
Out of all the classes I've taken at UCLA, this one was by far the most impactful. Just entering the minor, I really didn't know much about the research process. This class teaches you not only how to come up with an idea, but how to design experiments in order to test your theories. You get to deconstruct interesting papers, present a research topic you’re interested in, and write a research proposal. You use everything you learn in this class in upper division courses and the lab you end up joining. To this day, I still use all the skills I’ve learned in this class. I can’t tell you how many times my PI talked about a research method and was surprised that I already knew the technique! No other class will teach you the actual research process to this extent, so take it with the intention of learning it well. I promise it will benefit you. In other words, this is the most practical class you can take.
Professor Austin also really cares about her students. All the research she discusses and shows us is incredibly relevant to some of the most groundbreaking research today. She designed the class to have every possible thing that will be relevant to you for a future in research. On top of the stuff I talked about earlier, the presentation at the end also gets you comfortable talking about research in front of an audience which is SO important for URW and even just being in a lab. Also if you don’t understand something she will take the time to explain it to you during office hours and in class. The class is really designed for you to make the most of it. Professor Austin will also give you incredible advice about your future plans, so I highly recommend attending office hours for this class. It’s a small class so this is one of the few opportunities at UCLA to get mentorship and advice from a professor.
Definitely the best class at UCLA!!