Rutgers Academy for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

The Rutgers Academy for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (RASTL) provides advanced graduate students with the opportunity to meet monthly with faculty and administrators to review issues related to undergraduate instruction and contemporary higher education. In addition, under the auspices of the TA Project (TAP), RASTL offers programs to help graduate students learn to teach from both a general and a discipline-specific perspective.

RASTL comprises the Leadership Team, Faculty Fellows, and Graduate Student Fellows, each of whom participate in regular meetings, planning sessions, and seminars. In addition, the Fellows take part in presenting TAP’s programs and seminars.

Are you a faculty member or experienced teaching assistant at Rutgers who is passionate about effective and inclusive pedagogy? Are you interested in being an active member of a diverse community of fellow educators looking to improve the student experience and develop new teaching skills? If so, we encourage you to email tapweb@grad.rutgers.edu for more information on how to apply to be a RASTL fellow. Please note that graduate student fellows must be in a PhD program, have at least two semesters of teaching experience, be in good academic standing and be recommended by their Graduate Program Director. Applications are considered on a rolling basis when space allows.

 

Graduate Fellows

Maggie Albright-Pierce

Social/Health Psychology

Teaching Philosophy: I strive to be an instructor that creates a learning environment inclusive of different learning styles, encourages students to make personal connections to material, and empowers students to build the skills and knowledge necessary to thrive in a diverse community.

Research: I enjoy exploring the intersectionality of social and health psychology. My research tends to center around motivation and barriers in goal pursuit.

Prasiddha Arunachalam

Astrophysics

Teaching Philosophy: My teaching philosophy is primarily centered around my own approach to learning. My classroom instruction reflects this ideology, where I often present the material along with comments on how I learned the material for the first time, followed up with examples. I believe in creating an environment where the student has the opportunity not just to acquire information, but also struggle with it, apply it in several contexts, and appreciate the learning that results from this process.

Research: I study the explosions of stars, known as Supernovae. My research focuses on using space telescopes to observe the debris left behind by a detonating star, usually after a few hundred years of the explosion, and piece together the processes that led to the supernova explosion.

Rohin Biswas

Chemistry & Chemical Biology

Teaching Philosophy: In my experience, I have felt that inquiry-guided learning is most often a more effective learning tool than a traditional lecture setting, and I have often adopted active learning techniques to make the learning more peer-centric. This promotes student engagement and improves the learning outcome for students.

Research: My research focuses on the effective diagnosis of disease conditions in the body by using water-soluble endohedral fullerene based MRI contrast agents.

rohinbsws.wixsite.com/rbiswas

Marissa Caldwell

Communication

Teaching Philosophy: My goal as an educator is to encourage students to think critically. I strive to create an interactive learning environment that encourages students to actively participate and ask questions. I tailor my instruction to meet the unique needs and interests of my students, and I welcome feedback that guides the course.

Research: My research is in the communication subfield of language and social interaction (LSI), and I specifically study question-answer sequences in U.S. congressional hearings.

Yael Davidov

Mathematics

Teaching Philosophy: I believe that the most significant student learning occurs when students have the opportunity to struggle with material. I believe it is my job to create a classroom environment where struggle is encouraged and normalized, and to provide support so that students are ultimately successful and confident in their abilities.

Research: My research area is in algebra and arithmetic. I have not started a specific project yet but hope to study connections to representation theory.

Xiaotong Du

Information Science

Teaching Philosophy: As an educator in information science, my role is to provide a supportive, inclusive, and safe learning environment for students to co-construct knowledge and think critically. My goal is to empower students to solve real-world challenges through the lens of information and equip them with theoretical, methodological, and practical tools. 

Research: My research investigates how humans engage with food-related information in everyday life with the aim of promoting sustainability and resilience in food systems.

https://comminfo.rutgers.edu/du-xiaotong

Eva Erber

German

Teaching Philosophy: My goal as an instructor of German as well as Comparative Literature and Academic Writing is to excite my students for new knowledge. I want to support them in getting confident with navigating the complex world of thoughts, images, and ideas surrounding them. By incorporating various media in my instruction, I strive to create an engaging environment, wherein questions, as well as discussions, are welcomed and encouraged. 

Research: My transdisciplinary research currently focuses on how women artists and writers in 1920s Germany use manual techniques in literature, film, design, and doll-making. Thus, they explore a new understanding of artistic materiality and question genre confinements. 

 

Amy Funck

Political Science

Teaching Philosophy: I believe that everything has a story, and my job as a teacher is to help students learn perspective taking and cause and effect to better understand the dynamics of the world. My approach is other-oriented, where students learn empathy and humility by asking, “Why is X like this? What don't I know?” rather than “What about me?” 

Research: I am an experimental political psychologist researching the effects of emotions and personality on political behavior, decision-making, and memory.  

Giuseppe Grispino

Italian

Teaching Philosophy: My teaching philosophy is based on the acronym CEI: Communication, Equality, Inclusivity. I use a communicative approach at all levels of language instruction. I believe in the creation of a safe and supportive environment where everybody feels included and treated equally. Finally, I value students’ differences. Cultural, linguistic, economic, and social differences do not put students a step ahead or one behind others in class. All students are equal. And all their contributions matter equally. I am also a mental health advocate and I take the mental health of my students deeply to heart. 

Research: I am researching and studying the effect of parental rejection as depicted in contemporary Italian LGBTQ+ literature and cinema. My broader teaching and research interests include: psychoanalysis, trauma studies, autobiography, autoethnography, and contemporary LGBTQ+ literature and cinema.

Endia Hayes

Sociology

Teaching Philosophy: My philosophy of teaching is dedicated to the engagement of critical teaching and practice in and out of the classroom. Specifically, my pedagogy builds on decolonial and abolitionist means of making critical learning and engagement accessible through interdisciplinary sociological research.

Research: My research focuses on embodied and sensuous archiving of 19th-20th century Afro-Texans. In my dissertation, I argue that this alternative means of archiving renavigates how Black sociality is (re)made in the South.

https://sociology.rutgers.edu/people/doctoral-students/doctoral-student/741-hayes-endia-louise

Sneha Khaund

Comparative Literature

Teaching Philosophy: I consider humanistic education to be crucial for interrogating current events in empathetic, historically situated, and globally interrelated ways. As such, I believe in cultivating a welcoming atmosphere in the classroom that is sustained by student collaborations and creative, in-depth textual engagement using a wide range of media.

Research: I am studying multilingual literary texts from India’s Northeastern borderland to consider how they mediate linguistic identities and national citizenship.

Zoë Kitchel

Ecology & Evolution

Teaching Philosophy: The 21st century presents challenges and opportunities for us as teachers. Heightened access to information and connections among communities can leave us wondering, what is there left to teach? But at the same time, this new reality encourages innovation and reflection of what it means to be an effective educator.

Research: I am interested in how commercially important fish species are responding to warming oceans, and subsequently, how coastal communities are adapting to these changes.

Lindsey Kwok

Physics

Teaching Philosophy: I believe students should learn physics through exploration. I strive to teach primarily through active learning activities and hands-on experimentation, giving students opportunities to struggle, make mistakes, and practice new skills in a safe environment. I aim to equip students with useful skills and inspire curiosity about our incredible universe.

Research: I investigate the violent deaths of stars as supernova explosions by observing and analyzing their light signatures and using models to reconstruct their progenitor systems.

Tamra Lepro

Literatures in English

Teaching Philosophy: In teaching literature I want my students to understand the value of the skills that they’re learning and how it goes beyond knowledge of a particular text. Close reading, analysis, research, and writing are all skills that are highly sought in every work environment.

Research: I’m interested in an ecocritical reading of 17th-century drama as the English colonial project took shape and representations of nature in drama become heightened.

Melanie Maimon

Psychology

Teaching Philosophy: My teaching philosophy centers on 1) creating a safe, inclusive, and accessible learning environment for all students; 2) promoting student understanding and application of course material to both students’ own lives and to our social world more broadly, and 3) encouraging engagement and critical thinking with course content.

Research: My research focuses on experiences and perceptions of sexual/gender minorities, the role of stigma in close relationships, and identity cues and solidarity with/between minority groups.

sanchezlab.com/people

Santanu Malakar

Chemistry & Chemical Biology

Teaching Philosophy: Each student has a unique way of learning and restricting them to a dogmatic style of teaching will keep them from realizing their true potential. Therefore, as a teacher, I strive to create an atmosphere where my students can express their perspective, start thinking critically and bounce ideas off of each other without any fear of judgment.

Research: My research focuses on activating and transforming small 'inert' molecules into industrially relevant compounds using transition metal-based pincer catalysts.

Brittany Marshall

Mathematics Education

Teaching Philosophy: It is my duty to help my pre-service teachers see the brilliance and ability of all their future K-12 mathematics students and bring it out to them. I provide a judgment-free environment where students learn to use questioning and encouragement to foster critical thinking and analysis.

Research: I am interested in the positive mathematics identity development of African American children, particularly Black girls, and the teachers who help cultivate these identities.

https://gse.rutgers.edu/student/brittany-l-marshall/

Denise Mercado

Concentration: Evolutionary Anthropology

Teaching Philosophy:

My approach to academic teaching stems from compelling parallels I have found in my experience as a yoga instructor. In both settings, the flow of information and cultivation of a student’s progress requires clear communication, responsible curation of content, and teaching to the student as well as to the collective classroom.

Research:

I am an evolutionary behavioral scientist. My dissertation focuses on human cooperation and conflict, coalitional psychology, religion, and culture.

http://www.humangenerosity.org/people/denise-mercado/

Marialaina Nissenbaum

Psychology

Teaching Philosophy: My classroom is a safe space for students to be inquisitive, think critically, and have open dialogue about course material. I strive to be inclusive of different learning styles, to give and receive constructive feedback, and give students tools to cultivate their skills as scientists, writers, and individuals.

Research: I am studying the effect of maternal immune stress on early life brain development, and how this brain-immune system interaction affects behavior.

Hailey Riechelson

Oceanography

Teaching Philosophy: Recent years have taught me the value of increasing scientific literacy, especially when science is tied to policy. I aim to make advancements in climate science more accessible to a broad range of students. I hope to provide students with critical thinking skills and the ability to assess information reputability.

Research: I reconstruct past climate over the current interglacial period to understand what provokes climate system changes.

Blair Seidler

Mathematics

Teaching Philosophy: My role as a teacher is to support my students as they engage with the subject matter in a safe but intellectually challenging environment. Since each student has different prior academic, social, and cultural experiences, what constitutes support, safety, and challenge will vary from one individual student to the next.

Research: I am generally interested in combinatorics and graph theory.

Katherine Sinclair

History

Teaching Philosophy: As an instructor, I work to empower my students as current and future changemakers. I provide them with intellectual tools to think through the unique challenges posed by twenty-first century life. At the same time, I work to create an environment where students are safe, respected, and valued.

Research: I focus on French imperial history as well as the history of science. My dissertation focuses on sovereignty claims and crises in the French Antarctic.

Emily Stevenson

Toxicology

Teaching Philosophy: As an instructor, I aim to 1) help students become critical thinkers who can analyze and critique concepts and methods in science; 2) encourage the development of thought-provoking scientific questions and experimental strategies to explore them; and 3) apply course material to timely, real-world scenarios to encourage student engagement.

Research: My research focuses on mitigating the effects of acute lung injury by altering macrophage phenotype with a novel compound.

Corrine Yap

Mathematics

Teaching Philosophy: I use inquiry-based techniques to give students the opportunity to explore and engage with mathematics, both individually and collaboratively. Each student's learning process has been shaped by their experiences and identities, and I strive to teach in a way that encourages every student to gain ownership of the material.

Research: My research is in the area of probabilistic combinatorics, and includes some problems with applications to statistical mechanics.

www.corrineyap.com