Darra is a creative educator with a passion for using active learning techniques and storytelling in the science classroom. She obtained a Bachelor of Science degree with a Major in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Minors in Chemistry, Mathematics and Physics and a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture in the Veterinary Sciences from the University of Arizona. During her time at the U of A, Darra served as a student docent for the Sonoran Desert Museum and participated in their regular chuckwalla round ups. She was a Teaching Assistant for Marine Biology which afforded her the opportunity to dissect a fin whale carcass that washed up on the beach during a class trip. She taught outreach courses in Marine and Desert Discovery and participated in a diverse array of research and conservation efforts. Darra treasures her work with the Coastal Conservation Foundation in sea turtle preservation and has fond memories of patrolling black sand, nesting beaches that would light up from the bioluminescent dinoflagellates.
Darra continued her education in Fort Collins, Colorado receiving a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M.) from Colorado State University. She worked on research involving NMDA receptor expression in aging mice, ethylene glycol treatment options for felines, and antibiotic use and microbial resistance in the veterinary profession. Darra has been blessed with many amazing experiences working with bald eagles, great horned owls and other raptors, boa constrictors, desert tortoises, iguanas and bearded dragons, llamas, alpacas, bobcats, and pumas to name a few. Some of her fondest memories include assisting in abdominal surgery of a potbelly pig aptly named big bertha, caring for a canine cancer patient named Patrick, a loveable Old English Sheepdog that felt best sitting in her lap and the monthly llama walks down the streets of Fort Collins with her favorite alpaca named Chewbacca.
Darra has taught a range of courses including biology, anatomy and physiology, chemistry, environmental science, and college success. She is committed to inclusive and equitable teaching and the decolonization of science curriculum. Darra teaches her students how to think beyond the exam to build mastery of the subject area using techniques based in brain research. She infuses fair-minded critical thinking into her courses and employs open educational resources. Her current focus is on building multicultural competencies and social justice curriculum that relates to her core biology content. Darra finds the power of purpose, curiosity, awe and wonder highly motivating for herself and her students.
Outside of work, Darra likes to spend time with her husband and daughter on outdoor adventures like hiking, quadding, camping, rock climbing, caving, mountain biking, bird watching, kayaking, and snorkeling. She also loves traveling, cooking, dance, yoga, and meditation.