2016-2017 SEMINARS

The STEM Active Learning Seminar (STEM- ALS) aims to cultivate a community of scientist-teachers and STEM educators at UCSC. Seminar speakers will have the opportunity to share their in-class experiments, insights, accomplishments, and challenges teaching STEM classes emphasizing scientifically-based teaching techniques. STEM-ALS is sponsored by the Division of Physical & Biological Sciences, the Institute for Scientist & Engineer Educators and a new grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, which combined with UCSC campus funding, is revising introductory STEM courses at UCSC.

In addition, we would like to encourage announcements related to new grants, proposals, projects, or interests surrounding active learning practices before the seminar. Those wanting to make an announcement should make contact at least one day before the scheduled talk and plan for a 2-3 minute announcement with no more than one slide.

If you would like to present, please contact our organizers, Susy Honig (shonig@ucsc.edu), Colin West (cowest@ucsc.edu) and Gabe Mednick (gmednick@ucsc.edu).

Second Thursday of each month, 12:00-1:00 PM (bring your lunch!)

2016-2017 SEMINARS

Oct 13th

Biomed 300

Lessons from a successful flip with Robin Dunkin

Host: Susy Honig

Description: Robin will discuss the process and planning that went into flipping bio 20B, specific examples of activities, how the teaching team addressed equity and inclusion, and what what lessons the teaching team learned about what worked and what didn't work. Robin will also discuss how the activities and particular elements from the active learning version are being reincorporated into the large lecture course.

Robin's bio: Robin Dunkin did her undergraduate work at UCSC in marine biology and then completed a master’s degree in Biology at the University of California at Wilmington where she studied thermoregulation and energetics in bottlenose dolphins. Robin returned to UCSC to complete her Ph.D. with Dr. Terrie Williams where she ventured onto land and applied her interest in thermoregulation and physiological ecology to African and Asian elephants. Her work focused on developing population level models predicting the movement patterns of these large animals based on empirically measured physiological data. Robin then began an Office of Naval Research funded postdoctoral fellowship through NOAA which aimed at understanding the energetic consequences of increasing anthropogenic sound in the oceans. Robin also runs the Marine Mammal Stranding Program at Long Marine Lab. Since 2012, Robin has been a lecturer in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department where she has taught the introductory physiology and development of plants and animals course for majors. Robin is keenly committed to teaching and most recently has been working with the HHMI team at UCSC to redesign the introductory STEM courses for majors using evidence based teaching methods.

 Robin Dunkin
November 10th

Biomed 300

Engaging, Luring, and Immersing Undergraduates in the Biological Sciences with Professor Rolf Christoffersen (UCSB)

Host: Susy Honig

Description: My presentation will describe the multifaceted approach that we have taken to implement Vision and Change in our department since 2010. First, we developed course-based authentic research experiences for students at different stages of the major including: a freshmen research course focused on DNA barcoding and antibiotic producing microorganisms; a module in our introductory biology laboratory course that consists of an RNAi screen to identify genes involved in chemosensory perception in C. elegans; an intensive summer research course for undergraduates and taught by postdoctoral scholars. Second, we have encouraged the formation of student learning communities with a near-peer mentoring program to support students enrolled in a large introductory biology lecture course. Third, we are offering a parallel version of our traditional introductory biology lecture course that focuses on a student-centered learning approach with the goal of determining whether this intervention impacts retention and performance in our major through graduation.

Rolf's bio: I have been a faculty member of the MCD Biology department at UC Santa Barbara since 1985 with my primary teaching assignment in the area of eukaryotic genetics at both the introductory and upper division levels. I have a long-standing interest in the use of instructional technology to improve student experiences in my large lecture courses. In addition, as co-director of two HHMI-funded undergraduate science education projects, I have been part of a team of UCSB science educators that are dedicated to improving outcomes for all our undergraduate students including those from groups that are at high risk of leaving STEM majors.

 Rolf Christoffersen
December 8th

Biomed 300

Research Deconstruction: Building Knowledge and Self-Efficacy by Demystifying Sophisticated Science with Professor Grant Hartzog

Host: Professor Manny Ares

Description: I will discuss Biol88: Research Deconstruction, MCD Biology, which was taught for the first time last year. This course aims to provide beginning undergraduates with the tools and self-confidence necessary to succeed in both their course work and the lab by “deconstructing” a sophisticated research seminar. I will describe the course’s structure, successes and failures in its first offering and my plans for the future.

Grant’s Bio: I have been a member of the MCD Biology department since 1998. Prior to joining UCSC, I was a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School and a Graduate student at UCSF. In addition to my research program in chromatin and transcription, I have taught many different courses over the years. I was introduced to the concepts of active learning through two experiences at UCSC: participation in the PDP program, and along with Manny Ares, teaching an HHMI sponsored lab course in which students are introduced to molecular biology by participation in an authentic research project. Since these experiences, I have incorporated active learning principles into my lecture and lab courses. The class I will discuss in this seminar represents my latest experiment in encouraging students to become active participants in their education.

 Grant Hartzog
January 12th

Biomed 300


The natural history of UCSC life sciences majors with Professor John Tamkun

Host: Professor Manny Ares

Description: I will present the results of a longitudinal study for a large cohort of undergraduates interested in the life sciences who entered UCSC as freshmen in the fall of 2012. I will describe the academic challenges faced by these students, including factors affecting their retention and timely graduation, with a focus on traditionally underrepresented groups in STEM fields. Approaches for identifying and assisting at-risk students in a large introductory biology course will also be discussed.

Bio: I joined the Department of MCD Biology at UCSC in 1989 after completing my graduate and postdoctoral training at MIT and the University of Colorado, Boulder. For the past twenty-five years, my research has been focused on the role of chromatin structure in eukaryotic gene expression and epigenetic inheritance. I have taught Biology 20A, a large introductory biology course, since 1996. I became interested in educational policy and academic data analysis while serving as the chair of my department and the UCSC Academic Senate Committees on Admissions and Financial Aid and Educational Policy.

John Tamkun
February 9th

Biomed 300

Engaging Students in General and Organic Chemistry Courses: Authentic Practice in Laboratory Courses, Near Peer Instruction, and Active Engagement in Large Organic Lectures with Professor Anne Baranger

Host: Gabe Mednick

Description: In this presentation, I will discuss our efforts to engage students in the general chemistry laboratory curriculum by designing a curriculum that focuses on authentic practice of green chemistry and is supported by a large learning assistant program. I will also discuss active learning methods in our large organic lectures. In particular, I will focus on my efforts to engage students actively in the first semester of organic chemistry for majors.

Bio: Anne Baranger received her B.S. in chemistry from MIT, her Ph.D. in chemistry from UC Berkeley, and was a postdoctoral fellow at Yale University. Professor Baranger has been a member of the chemistry faculty at Wesleyan University and the University of Illinois. She joined UC Berkeley in 2011 where she is Director of Undergraduate Chemistry and Faculty Assistant for Teaching and Learning for the Vice Chancellor of Undergraduate Education. Her research focuses on investigating student learning in undergraduate research experiences, understanding near peer teaching and learning, developing interventions to improve problem solving by organic students, and creating curricula to teach the authentic practice of green chemistry to general chemistry students.

Anne Baranger
March 9th

Biomed 300

You Matter, You Belong: Closing the Achievement Gap

with Pat James (California Community Colleges) and Francine Van Meter (Cabrillo College)

Host: Gabe Mednick

Description: Our most vulnerable students are often first generation college students, from low income families, and are students of color. This seminar focuses on educational technology efforts both statewide and locally to engage our high-risk students in academic life through technology-enabled solutions. Connecting to students’ emotional, social, and cultural life helps them build confidence, and overcome challenges they face.

Pat James' Bio: A California Community College (CCC) distance education leader for over a decade, Pat James is dedicated to increasing student success through high quality online learning. She just retired in January from the position of Executive Director of the California Community Colleges’ Online Education Initiative (OEI), a 70 million dollar Distance Education project funded by the California legislature. In 2016, she received the Frank Mayadas Award, a national award from the Online Learning Consortium. Pat has been both a teacher and an administrator for Mt. San Jacinto College, where she led the MSJC Basic Skills Initiative, Learning Center, Libraries and Distance Education. She co-directed the state @ONE professional development project, served on system advisory committees, and taught online educators through the @ONE certification program. Pat is proud to have graduated with an AA Degree from Canada College, and a BA in Psychology from University of California, Santa Cruz, then completing a Masters Degree from Capella University in Instructional Design for Online Learning.

Francine Van Meter's Bio: As Coordinator for Cabrillo’s Title V Grant, Closing the Completion Gap, Francine Van Meter is currently working to provide individualized, technology-powered student support so that high-need students stay on degree transfer track, and design transfer courses as active/collaborative/technology-enabled, with a hybrid online component to reduce seat time and promote academic success and timely completion. Francine graduated from Cabrillo College (Dental Hygiene), UCSC (Biology), and SJSU (MA, Instructional Technology). She’s been a faculty member at Cabrillo since 1993 and directed the Teaching & Learning Center most of her career. She continues to be involved statewide with distance education through the OEI.


April 13th

Biomed 300

Taking a scholarly route to institutional change: Theory, practice and tools to support educational transformation in STEM with Professor Noah Finkelstein (University of Colorado Boulder, Department of physics)

Host: Colin West

Description: Despite numerous calls for the transformation of undergraduate education, there is still a lack of successful models for creating large-scale, systemic cultural changes at our institutions. To date, change efforts have generally only focused on one of three scales: disseminating curricula and pedagogy, developing reflective teachers, or enacting institutional policy. These efforts illustrate many of the challenges of institutional change; in particular, they highlight the need for a holistic approach that integrates across multiple institutional levels: individual faculty, whole departments, and university policymakers. I present current work on models of change, some of our action-research projects that are approaches to change, and new research-based tools to support our change efforts. In particular, I look forward to interactive discussions around an effort to enact a Teaching Quality Framework that outlines both a scholarly approach to evaluating our education practices and a process for enacting such a tool.

Bio: Noah Finkelstein is a Professor of Physics at the University of Colorado Boulder and conducts research in physics education. He serves as a PI of the Physics Education Research (PER) group and is also a Director for the Center for STEM Learning on campus, which has become one of eight national demonstration sites for the Association of American Universities’ (AAU) STEM Education Initiative. He serves as Co-Director of the national Network of STEM Education Centers. Finkelstein’s research focuses on studying the conditions that support students’ interest and ability in physics – developing models of context. These research projects range from the specifics of student learning particular concepts, to the departmental and institutional scales of sustainable educational transformation. This research has resulted in over 120 publications. He is increasingly involved in education policy. In 2010, he testified before the US Congress on the state of STEM education at the undergraduate and graduate levels. He serves on many national boards including chairing both the American Physical Society’s Committee on Education and PER Topical Group. He serves on the Board of Trustees for the Higher Learning Commission, is a Technical Advisor to the AAU, and very involved in the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities’ efforts in STEM education. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, and a Presidential Teaching Scholar and the inaugural Timmerhaus Teaching Ambassador for the University of Colorado system.

Noah Finkelstein

May 11th

Biomed 300


UC Santa Cruz Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) Initiatives: Documenting the journey of transforming CL-Math 2 (College Algebra) course into an Active Learning Experience

Description: We will present on the principles of equity and inclusion, design of the curriculum, and the first- year results of performance for the Fall CL-Math 2 (College Algebra) course. Math 2 is the first gateway mathematics course taken by many students who come from underperforming K-12 schools. The holistic approach to deliver pedagogy both in lecture and in small group discussion sections, where active learning is at the core of promoting a collaborative learning environment, will be discussed in detail. In this endeavor instructors, teaching assistants, undergraduate tutors and an advisor came together to build a community of learners that are able to think critically with mathematical concepts, as they adjust and find an identity in the academic environment of the campus. We will also present on the results of how students performed in the F2016 course where these pedagogical changes were implemented compared to 2010-2015 where the instructional design did not incorporate the new teaching model.

Presented by:

Pablo Reguerin, Vice Provost for Student Success & Director of EOP;
Nandini Bhattacharya, Mathematics Lecturer;
Charis Herzon, Director of Learning Support Services;
Nancy Cox-Konopelski, Director of ACE Program;
Arnold Sanchez Ordaz, Internal Evaluator and Lead Data Analyst for HSI

Pablo Guillermo Reguerín's Bio: Pablo Guillermo Reguerín currently serves as the Assistant Vice Provost for the Division of Student Success at the University of California, Santa Cruz, providing leadership and oversight to student services offices charged with retaining and graduating students with a focus on educational equity. As part of his duties, Mr. Reguerín serves as the director for Educational Opportunity Programs (EOP) and oversees critical support services including: Services for Transfer and Re-Entry Students (STARS), Learning Support Services (tutorial programs), Disability Resource Center, Ethnic Resource Centers (Latin@, Asian/Pacific Islander, African-American, and American Indian), the Women’s Center and the Cantu Queer Center.
Mr. Reguerin is directly engaged in closing the graduation gap at UCSC and serves as the co-chair of the UCSC Hispanic Serving Institution Team and serves as the principal investigator on two US Department of Education Title V grant projects. Pablo serves as a member of the Student Success Team and the UCSC Black Experience Team. In addition, Pablo leads campus wide initiatives for undocumented students.
Mr. Reguerín received his Bachelor of Arts degree from UC Santa Cruz in Latino and Latin American Studies. He was actively engaged in the Oakes College community as an RA and a Herman Blake Fellow. Pablo earned his Master of Arts degree from Teachers College, Columbia University in Educational Leadership and Administration and is currently a doctoral student at UC Davis.
Nandini Bhattacharya's Bio: Nandini received her Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from Bryn Mawr College, PA and Masters in Mathematics along with Post Graduate Certification in Education from UCSC. She joined the Academic Excellence (ACE) Program when it first started in 1987, and worked for ACE as a Mathematics Coordinator for 20 years. Since 2007, Nandini has been a lecturer at the Department of Mathematics, mostly teaching the initial gateway courses Math 2 and Math 3, where a large number of students enrolled come from underserved/under-represented backgrounds. In her collective experience of 30 years of teaching this cohort of students, Nandini was compelled to find external resources to serve these students better, in the context of a large University setting. Subsequently Nandini partnered with the HSI Initiatives team in an effort to redesign the Math 2 and Math 3 courses. Nandini has worked her entire professional career on the important issues of equity and access to create opportunities for a diverse community of students, specifically in regards to curriculum development and delivery. Nandini Bhattacharya received the Excellence in Teaching Award in 2012, Excellence in Diversity Award in 2005 and 2013 and the Hero Award by the Educational Opportunity Program in 2016.
Charis Herzon's Bio: I have been working with Learning Support Services since 2000, when Modified Supplemental Instruction (MSI) was first piloted at UCSC. Currently, I serve as the Director of Learning Support Services (LSS)/Director of Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) Initiatives. LSS offers undergraduates peer assistance via MSI, Small Group Tutoring, and Writing Tutoring in addition to Drop-In Services and Peer Mentoring. I work with the campus HSI team. We take a data driven, inquiry approach toward educational equity, which informs our initiatives and monitors their outcomes. We work with students, faculty, staff, administration, alumni, and community partners towards our common goals, one of which is to provide support and opportunities that will build the academic pipeline.
Nancy Cox-Konopelski's Bio: I earned a Bachelors’ degrees in education from the University of Kansas and in chemistry from California State University, Sonoma and a Master’s degree in Chemistry from UCSC. I began working with the Academic Excellence (ACE) Program in its early years and have been the director of the program for 20 years. ACE is an academic support program dedicated to increasing the diversity of students who graduate from UCSC with STEM Bachelors’ degrees. The ACE Program received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring in 1999. PAESMEM is the highest national mentoring award bestowed by the White House to individuals and programs that show a successful and sustained effort in mentoring those underrepresented in STEM. My passion for inclusivity and equity in STEM education led me to collaborate with community and university women to host UCSC’s Expanding Your Horizons (EYH) Program, which included an annual day-long conference and after school program designed to encourage girls to pursue science, math, and engineering careers. I have been involved with the HSI Initiatives since the HSI Task Force was conceived and am encouraged that the campus is earnestly engaged in educational equity through the HSI Initiatives and concomitant institutional change.
Arnold Sánchez Ordaz's Bio: Arnold Sánchez Ordaz is a PhD candidate in the department of education at UCSC. Arnold graduated with a degree in psychology from the University of California at Berkeley and then joined the psychology lab of Hazel Rose Markus and Jennifer Eberhardt as a research assistant at Stanford University. Before coming to UCSC, Arnold completed a Masters Degree in Experimental Research Psychology from San Jose State University. He later received a masters degree in education at UCSC. Some of Arnold’s academic accomplishments include the inaugural American Cultures prize. This prize recognized Arnold’s collaborative undergraduate research on undocumented youth. At UCSC Arnold has helped advance the universities Hispanic Serving initiatives as the Chancellors Graduate intern. Currently, Arnold serves as the internal evaluator and lead data analyst for UCSC's HSI efforts.


Here is a link to last year's seminars:

  • Anyone needing special arrangements to accommodate a disability should call 831-459-4986 two weeks prior to the date of the seminar they wish to attend.