Midwest and Great Plains Fellows

In 2012, forty life sciences educators throughout the United States accepted a daunting but important task -- to serve as catalysts to stimulate department-wide reform in undergraduate Life Sciences programs across the country.  This is the work of the Partnership for Undergraduate Life Sciences Education (PULSE), which was established through a collaborative effort among leaders from the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institute for Health/National Institute for General Medical Science, and Howard Hughes Medical Institute.  Additional PULSE Fellows have joined in this work, and the PULSE Fellows in the Midwest and Great Plains region include:

Taylor Allen, PhD

structural change, hard --
yet PULSE kindred spirits move
forward together

Taylor Allen has been a PULSE Fellow since 2012.  He is presently the director of 3-2 Engineering Program (1998-present), former chair of Biology Department (2009-2013), and associate professor of biology at Oberlin College; He earned his BSE, Penn and his PhD at University of Washington and postdoctoral fellowship, UPenn

Paul E. Arriola, PhD

I am a professor of biology and Associate Dean of the Faculty at Elmhurst College in Elmhurst, Illinois.  During the last year of my graduate studies I had the opportunity to teach at a local community college and found out very quickly that I wanted a career were working with undergraduates would be the focus of my work.  I was fortunate to find my current position right out of graduate school because it was exactly the kind of place where I wanted to be. The department encouraged me to explore my diverse interests and to use my research as a vehicle to train students. I also have been heavily engaged in various efforts to help Chicago area high school students from under-represented groups gain access to college and STEM disciplines, in particular.  During my tenure at EC, I have also been able to engage the department in a transformation activity that resulted in a complete redesign and modernization of our curriculum.  As part of this effort we became engaged with PULSE which lead to our adoption of the Vision and Change recommendations and the development of a department-wide assessment plan.  My good fortune continued when I was invited to become a PULSE Fellow in 2014.  I love that I can now work to share my experience as a departmental change agent with other colleges looking to update and align their curriculum with V&C.  Most recently I have been working to engage the colleges and universities in the Chicago area with PULSE and assist them in their transformation efforts. 

Caroline Breitenberger

Elizabeth (Betsy) Desy

Michael Ira Kelrick

Karen Klyczek, PhD

I am a Professor of Biology at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, where I teach General Biology, Immunology, and Virology. I was department chair for 10 years, and helped the department establish a course-based research program in the General Biology courses. I enjoy mentoring students who want to continue research begun in class as independent research projects. I serve as assessment coordinator for our department, and facilitated a revision of our program assessment to align with Vision & Change recommendations. I have been active in the American Society for Microbiology and serve as Perspectives Editor for the Journal of Microbiology and Biology Education. I am a founding PULSE Fellow and have been involved in PULSE activities since 2012, including the Midwest and Great Plains Regional Network and the Ambassador program.

Kathleen Marrs

I am an Associate Professor of Biology in the Purdue School of Science at IUPUI.     I serve or have served in a number of administrative roles on campus, including as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, as Director of UCASE (the Urban Center for the Advancement of STEM Education) and as director of the Woodrow Wilson Indiana Teaching Fellowship at IUPUI, a MS degree program for STEM students and professionals seeking to become middle school or high school teachers.   I’ve been the PI on an NSF GK-12 grant, NSF Noyce grants, and Co-PI on NSF STEP, NSF CCLI and NSF TUES grants, working on a range of projects from K-12 initiatives, undergraduate education, graduate education, and teacher preparation. 

I teach a number of course in the department, mainly Introductory Biology, a large enrollment course for ~1000 science majors per year. I have recently started team-teaching this course with a colleague, and really enjoy this opportunity to collaborate and bring in additional active learning experiences.  I also teach the Honors Intro Biology course, where we have developed a number of authentic research projects for students based on research interests of our Biology faculty.  I teach an interdisciplinary Themed Learning Community (TLC) with a colleague from Chemistry, and collaborate with other colleagues on two additional TLCs in Neuroscience and in Biomedical Engineering.  I teach Microbiology lab in a project-based format where I work with our Microbiology and Organic Chemistry faculty on an interdisciplinary Distributed Drug Discovery program (D3) to find drug leads for rare and neglected disease.  I also teach two courses in the School of Education for secondary science teachers.  

In the classes I teach, I have similar goals, mainly to: (1) provide opportunities for collaboration and active learning, (2) integrate global health and social implications of biology to help students make personal connections to our courses, and (3) integrate scientific literacy, teamwork, and communication skills for students to develop academic and professional expertise.  I greatly enjoy working with others at IUPUI and in the PULSE community to improve undergraduate teaching and learning and to gather data to support change initiatives towards successful science education. 

Steven Matzner, PhD

I am a Professor and Chair of the Department of Biology at Augustana University in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  I was recently the President of the South Dakota Academy of Sciences.  I teach Introduction to Biological Principles I and II as well as a junior/senior level Plant Ecology class.  Undergraduate research is a major focus at our institution as we believe that students doing biology is the best way for them to learn biology.  As Department Chair, I have received great satisfaction in supporting young faculty embrace more innovative teaching and student centered learning activities.  I joined the PULSE Midwest and Great Plains Regional Network in 2014 and became a PULSE Fellow in 2015.  Since joining PULSE, our department has made progress toward adding more active learning and student centered activities to our classes, we have increased our networking with faculty at regional institutions and recently organized a “stem education” symposium at the South Dakota Academy of Sciences meeting. 

Kathryn Miller

Heather Seitz, PhD

I am an Associate Professor of Biology at Johnson County Community College (www.jccc.edu) and I have been involved in educational research for 10 years.  I primarily teach biotechnology, environmental science, and microbiology courses. I was an early adopter of the flipped classroom model and I am very interested in developing new and novel learning activities for the active learning classroom.  My educational research focuses on interventions that can help improve students conceptual understanding of microbiology.  I also am asking several important questions about the difference in learning online versus face to face.  In my laboratory teaching, I have implemented a course based research experience and developed an interdisciplinary project between my microbiology students and chemistry students at the college.

In service to my professional society, American Society for Microbiology, I am the editor for the Tips and Tools Section of the Journal of Microbiology and Biology Education.     Also through ASM, I am also the task force leader for the development of a concept inventory on microbiology for health sciences.  I am also actively engaged in efforts to improve the 2-year and 4-year partnerships and develop community college faculty as discipline specific educational researchers.

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