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Announcements

Congratulations Katie Dixie!!

We would like to congratulate Katie Dixie, one of our UCLA CIRTL Scholars for recently receiving one of UCLAs highest honors for teaching. Katie was recently honored at the Andrea L. Rich Night with a Distinguished Teaching Award for her work as a teaching assistant and for her contributions to the TA Training Course.

The awards, which were presented at a special ceremony on the evening of Oct. 15 at the Chancellor’s Residence, honor individuals who bring respect and admiration to teaching, allowing UCLA to demonstrate its excellence in higher education and provide role models for faculty and students.

The winners are chosen based on a range of criteria:
  • Impact on students, specifically playing a key role in students’ success, offering advice and guidance on career plans, or serving as a significant influence in students’ lives
  • Efforts to create a learning environment in which diverse students can succeed
  • Using innovative teaching methods and/or curriculum
  • Involvement in community outreach activities
  • Teaching ratings
  • Recipients were named from three categories: the senate faculty, non-senate faculty and teaching assistants.

CIRTL Scholars

The following individuals have completed all levels of engagement in the CIRTL@UCLA Program and have achieved the highest level of engagement- CIRTL Scholar Status.

Kaitlin Ingraham Dixie
Department of Integrative Biology and Physiology
2018-2019

Project Title: “Practice Makes Perfect?: The Merits of a Restructured Course for New Graduate Student Teaching Assistants”
Teaching-As-Research (TAR) Presentation: February 1, 2019, CEILS Journal Cub.

Katie is a PhD candidate in the Molecular, Cellular, and Integrative Physiology program at UCLA and researches treatments for paralysis caused by spinal cord injury in the laboratory of Dr. Patricia E. Phelps. Aside from her research, Katie is also dedicated to help improve both undergraduate and graduate education in the Integrative Biology and Physiology department. After having been a TA for a lower division life science course and an upper division neurodevelopment course in which she helped implement changes to allow for more active learning, she became the teaching assistant consultant/student instructor for her department’s graduate student TA training course. Inspired by her own experience and those of her peers, she implemented several changes to this class in order to better prepare and encourage new TAs to use more evidence-based practices in their discussion sections. Wanting to assess whether the changes she made were benefiting the TAs or not led her to CIRTL and was the focus of her Teaching As Research project. Katie has also worked as a graduate student mentor for the Undergraduate Research Center and served on the Biological graduate Student Council for two years during which she co-developed a quarterly event that aims connect undergraduates looking to get into research with graduate students, post-docs, and PIs in need of help. Outside of lab and class time, Katie enjoys hiking and traveling (or at least as often as possible on a graduate student budget) and, of course, spending time with her wife, family, friends, and cats.

Elizabeth Mills
Department of Physics and Astronomy
2018-2019

Project Title: “Mixed Methods Assessments of Introductory Physics for Life Sciences”
Teaching-As-Research (TAR) Presentation: November 30, 2018, CEILS Journal Cub.

Elizabeth is a PhD candidate in the department of Physics and Astronomy at UCLA, and 2017-2018 recipient of the Charles E. and Sue K. Young Graduate Student Fellowship award. From 2015-2017, she spearheaded her department’s 2017 hosting of the APS Conferences for Women in Physics, and from 2017-2018 helped design and implement UCLA’s Physics for Life Sciences (5 series) laboratory revisions. She currently researches neurophysics in the laboratory of Professor Katsushi Arisaka, investigating correlations between EEG neural activity and human behavior. She continues to support UCLA’s Physics 5 series labs as the learning assistant instructor, teaching assistant coordinator, and student surveys administrator. In her free time, she enjoys playing soccer, practicing yoga, and bodysurfing.

Helen Vuong
Department of Integrative Biology and Physiology

2017-2018

Project Title: “Adapting Experiential Learning Activities to Enhance Neuroscience Education”
Teaching-As-Research (TAR) Presentation: The 2018 Institutional Research and Academic Career Development Awards (IRACDA) conference.

Upper division human physiology courses are structured to include numerous topics, typically require memorization of seemingly disparate concepts, and lacks application to a student’s experiences. Previous studies have demonstrated efficacy of experiential learning, such as lab and inquiry-based learning in improving a student’s performance in STEM courses. Through the use of experiential learning activities, I aimed to clarify and connect previous general physiology functions to neuroscience-specific topics. To determine whether experiential learning activities can improve student performance and understanding of neuroscience concepts I used pre- and post-quiz assessments at the beginning and end of each class, respectively. In particular, the quizzes contained questions that employed several levels of Bloom’s taxonomy. Students improved from pre-quiz to post-quiz, but there was no improvement in questions that utilized higher Bloom’s taxonomy. Furthermore, there is evidence that experiential learning activities did help to clarify neuroscience concepts. Together, these results suggest experiential learning activities is useful for neuroscience-specific topics and can be further refined to engage students in higher Bloom’s thinking.

Helen received her PhD from UCLA in 2015. She is a recipient of the Jules Stein Eye NIH Predoctoral Fellowship and Jules Stein Eye Institute Research Excellence Award. She is currently an NIH-NIGMS IRACDA fellow in the Department of Integrative Biology and Physiology. In the lab of Dr. Elaine Hsiao, she is studying the influence of the maternal microbiome on fetal neurodevelopment and offspring sensory behavior. In her free time, she enjoys hiking national parks and cooking.

Alumni Highlights

CIRTL Scholars

Sunny Chang
Instructor of Chemistry in the Dept of Chemistry, Southern Illinois University
Edwardsville, Illinois

“The training through CIRTL helped me to understand which evidence-based practices in the classroom are most important to me and how to articulate that in interviews. Schools were interested in my experiences with active learning and that I had tried Teaching-as-Research in the classroom.”

Nancy Day

Elizabeth Reid-Wainscoat

Jenny Link
Visiting Professor in Biology
Whittier College, California

“CIRTL opened my eyes to an entire field of evidence-based pedagogy, allowing me to be a better instructor. I learned how to talk about specific teaching strategies that I could implement in my upcoming courses, and I am excited to continue teaching-as-research this school year.”

CIRTL Practitioners

Matthieu Delcourt
Professor of Microbiology and Molecular Biology, University of Ottawa
Ottawa, Canada

“I am confident that my experience with the UCLA/CEILS/CIRTL sponsored MOOCs, learning communities, and journal clubs were critical in my attainment of this position. The knowledge and skills that I learned during these courses were truly eye opening and were heavily utilized during my interview teaching demonstration. They also helped me address some questions during the Q & A! The experiences in these teaching courses were indeed valuable and I plan to apply what I learned throughout my teaching career. Additionally, as a future teacher at a leading Hispanic-serving institute, the knowledge and tools I pick up at UCLA for working with underrepresented populations, utilizing diversity, and improving inclusivity, will be particularly useful.”

Stephen P. Hancock, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry
Towson University

“I am confident that my experience with the UCLA/CEILS/CIRTL sponsored MOOCs, learning communities, and journal clubs were critical in my attainment of this position. The knowledge and skills that I learned during these courses were truly eye opening and were heavily utilized during my interview teaching demonstration. They also helped me address some questions during the Q & A! The experiences in these teaching courses were indeed valuable and I plan to apply what I learned throughout my teaching career. Additionally, as a future teacher at a leading Hispanic-serving institute, the knowledge and tools I pick up at UCLA for working with underrepresented populations, utilizing diversity, and improving inclusivity, will be particularly useful.”

Ian Mendez, PhD
Assistant Professor, Pharmacy Practice & Clinical Sciences (PP&CS)
The University of Texas at El Paso

“I am writing to let you know that I have attained a new position as tenure-track Assistant Professor at the School of Pharmacy at the University of Texas in El Paso. I am confident that my experience with the UCLA/CEILS/CIRTL learning communities, and journal clubs were critical in my attainment of this position. The knowledge and skills that I learned during these courses were truly eye opening and were heavily utilized during my interview teaching demonstration. They also helped me address some questions during the Q & A! The experiences in these teaching courses were indeed valuable and I plan to apply what I learned throughout my teaching career. Additionally, as a future teacher at a leading Hispanic-serving institute, the knowledge and tools I pick up at UCLA for working with underrepresented populations, utilizing diversity, and improving inclusivity, will be particularly useful. I was so impressed with the commitment to excellence in teaching, that I plan to implement similar programs at my new institution.”

Frances K. Mercer, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Sciences
California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

CIRTL Associates

Xinnan Du

Xinnan is managing the UC Riverside NASA FIELDS program, which provides formal education/research opportunities for students/scholar ranging from high school to postdoc levels.

Shuwa Xu

Shuwa has gone on to be a post-doc at Cal Tech and is planning on continuing to teach and implement her TAR project.

“The CIRTL experience in UCLA was very helpful for me to learn how to teach. I truly appreciate the opportunity for a postdoc to participate in teaching research and obtain teaching experiences. Thank you!”