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 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.

Giuseppe Grispino


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.

Fulya Pinar

Cultural Anthropology (CITE) 

Teaching Philosophy: I strive to be an instructor who creates a safe educational environment for students not only to grow intellectually, but also to empower themselves socially, emotionally, and mentally. I guide students towards making their own decisions and building dialogues as a community, encouraging them to actively build and embrace the courses as their own.

Research: I enjoy studying modes of activism in the MENA region. My dissertation research is on displacement, alternative economies, care, and sustainable futures.


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.

Prasiddha Arunachalam


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.

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.


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

Endia Hayes


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.


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.

Yael Davidov


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.

Eva Erber


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. 


Zoë Kitchel

Ecology & EvolutionTeaching 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.

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


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.

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.

Marialaina Nissenbaum


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.

Blair Seidler


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.

Corrine Yap


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.

Emily Stevenson


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.

Other Graduate Fellows

Telema Briggs

Franchesca Fee

Laina Lockett

Neeta Yousaf

Faculty Fellows

Dan Battey

Shawnika Hull

Matt Charnley

Jenny Mandelbaum

Marci Meixler

Michael Weingart

Leadership Team

Barbara Bender

Christina Bifulco

Monica Devanas

Christopher Drue

Gary Gigliotti

David Goldman