Faculty

All UMR faculty are in the same academic unit: the Center for Learning Innovation (CLI).

The CLI promotes a learner-centered, technology-enhanced, concept-driven and community-integrated learning environment. Through ongoing assessment of student achievement, the CLI aspires to personalize education, establish research on learning and continuously improve curriculum. All of our faculty work together to prepare students for the exciting world of health care, in the way their research suggests is best.

Get to know our faculty below:

Cassidy Terrell, PhD
Assistant Professor, CLI

Speciality: Biochemistry

Phone: 1 507 258 8051
Fax: (507) 258-8066
Office: Paine
Email: terre031@r.umn.edu

Education
Ph.D., Biochemistry, University of Texas, Austin, 2012
B.S., Chemistry, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, 2007

Personal Vision: to be an agent of inspiration and discovery, leading others to uncover the joys and wonder of the biomolecular world.

Background
I received my Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities in 2007. During this time I engaged in a number of research and teaching opportunities that led me to pursue a graduate degree at the University of Texas, Austin (UT). At UT, I found my place in biochemistry; wherein I investigated the structure-function relationships of isozymes in bacteria that degrade unique hydrocarbons. After defending my Ph.D., I became entrenched in teaching, research and service as Visiting Assistant Professor at St. Olaf College in the Department of Chemistry. This experienced solidified my desire to be a permanent member of an innovative learning community and I am happy to have found my way to UMR.

Teaching
Goal: Excel at teaching, advance curricula and embody a professor who values integrity, creativity, and life-long learning

Prior to UMR, I taught a variety of courses including: the yearlong biochemistry sequence (biochemistry I & II), an integrated general, organic, and biochemistry course (GOB) for non-majors, and a team-taught biomolecular sciences course. I also held lab directorship roles for the biochemistry, chemistry and the world (GOB course), and organic chemistry labs.

At UMR, I am excited to design and deliver curriculum for biochemistry and microbiology courses in a university that values creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

Research
Goal: Develop a productive, long-term, exciting research program involving undergraduate students and peer collaborations that contribute to the scholarship of learning and scientific community.

My research aims to develop opportunities for educational and independent research in the broad area of Biomolecular Interaction Analysis.

Educational Research: I endeavor to develop and assess curricula related to biomolecular interaction analysis with goal of creating data-driven research on learning and disseminating this information. Recognizing that undergraduate students can benefit from analysis of 3D protein structure and function, I am collaboratively, developing and assessing a multi-step curriculum development project for the biochemistry curriculum. Additionally, a CREST (Connecting Researchers, Educators and Students) partner with the Milwaukee School of Engineer, I aim to engage student in CREST projects. The CREST program creates teams of undergraduate students, scientists and undergraduate educators who collaborate on a research topic involving macromolecules.  In one facet of the project, students design models that are brought to life using 3D printing technology.

Independent Research: Another component my research plan focuses on creating independent research opportunities for undergraduate students with an interest in biochemistry related careers. The primary goal of this research is to investigate metabolic enzymes in bacterial species that (1) have multiple aromatic hydrocarbon catabolic pathways and (2) thrive in polluted water.

Find Publications Here

Robert DunbarRobert Dunbar, PhD
Associate Professor, CLI

Speciality: Neuroscience

Phone: 1 507 258 8209
Fax: (507) 258-8066
Office: Paine
Email: dunb0011@r.umn.edu

Education
Ph.D., Neuroscience, University of Minnesota, 2002
M.A., Biology, Drake University, IA, 1995
B.S.S., Biology and History, Cornell College, IA, 1993

“I believe very strongly that an interactive, integrative, synergistic academic environment is the way to solve problems.”

Background
Attending and working at universities of various sizes and types along my academic/professional journey gave me the opportunity to experience a diversity of learning environments and form an idea about how I thought an ideal undergraduate community would look. As I transitioned from a postdoctoral research position to a world with greater teaching responsibilities, I actively searched for institutions that shared my view. Everything about the philosophical foundations of UMR and the Center for Learning Innovation satisfied my criteria for an effective undergraduate institution. A dynamic, integrated learning community with clearly articulated objectives and a commitment to continuous assessment of student progress toward those objectives were important qualities on my list of criteria. As a researcher, I have always been interested in learning and memory formation so the neuroscientist in me was also drawn to the part of the CLI's mission that focuses on data-driven research on learning. Being given the opportunity to be a part of an institution that combines an integrated curriculum, continuous assessment of student progress, and the ability to do data-driven research on the learning environment has been the professional equivalent of winning the lottery.

Teaching
My undergraduate teaching experience prior to arriving at UMR includes a wide variety of courses. These include: First-Year Seminar, The Brain, Biological Principles with Lab, Introduction to Human Physiology, Human Anatomy with Cadaver Lab, Human Physiology with Lab, Neuroscience, Senior Capstone, Forensic Biology, Sculpting Science, and Introduction to Biopsychology.

At UMR, I play a primary role on the design and delivery of courses across the health science core. Examples include: Integrative Biology, Introduction to Health Sciences I, Anatomy/Physiology, and Neuroscience. Furthermore, the philosophy of integration of disciplines means that I play a secondary role in other courses across the curriculum.

Research
I have a driving interest in the process of learning and memory formation. My research to this point has utilized tools ranging from molecular biology and optical imaging to psychophysiology as a means to address specific hypotheses under the umbrella of this general interest.

A significant focus of my energies has been on investigations of changes in activity within cells of the cerebellum. Specifically, processing at the level of Purkinje neurons in the cerebellar cortex, a site known to display a form of cellular “learning” called long-term depression. More recently, my focus has shifted to the how neural networks and social networks recognize emergent solutions. I am particularly interested in exploring the characteristics of neural networks that are well suited to solution recognition and comparing the structure of those networks to the characteristics of social networks that excel in the same process. Moving from the neural network level to the systems level to the group level requires that we ask some critical questions: Is it reasonable to consider individual people “sub-processors” within the larger network? How do we recognize solutions in a group model? What are the most effective characteristics of a group for a solution to emerge, or for a solution to be recognized? Additionally, my interest in scientific research has also expanded beyond the bench in the last several years. I have found it more and more important to engage in an examination of two principle questions. The first is, “Are we using the most effective methods for content delivery?” and the second is, “How can we engage members of the scientific community and the general public in an effective discussion about the value of and ethical practices in research?”. The integrated curriculum and emphasis on data-driven learning research at UMR provides rich opportunities to pursue these questions and many others related to solution emergence, group learning, and decision making.

Find Select Publications and Abstracts Here

David HainesDavid Haines, MS
Senior Teaching Specialist, CLI

Speciality: Biology

Phone: 1 507 258 8027
Fax: (507) 258-8066
Office: Paine
Email: dshaines@r.umn.edu

Education
M.S., Oklahoma State University, 2013
B.S., University of Wisconsin-Superior, 2010

“I try to show the public that chemistry, biology, physics, astrophysics is life. It is not some separate subject that you have to be pulled into a corner to be taught about. --Neil de Grasse Tyson”

Background
In 2010, I earned my bachelor’s degree from UW-Superior, and afterwards I decided to take an opportunity to conduct behavioral research on green anoles (Anolis carolinensis). Green anoles are a small lizard found throughout the South Eastern United States. They utilize a unique method of communication known as head bobbing, which scientists do not fully understand. I was interested in how early life stage nutritional and hormonal stresses would impair their ability to produce these displays. While teaching at Oklahoma State, I taught a variety of classes ranging from introduction to biology to anatomy and physiology classes. I also taught high school students in the Upward Bound program biology, physiology, chemistry and physics over the summers. While in graduate school, I learned that I enjoyed teaching more than research and am very grateful to have an opportunity teach Anatomy and Physiology at UMR.

Kelsey MetzgerKelsey Metzger, DA
Assistant Professor, CLI

Speciality: Biology

Phone: 1 507 258 8214
Fax: (507) 258-8066
Office: Paine
Email: kmetzger@umn.edu

Education
Doctor of Arts, Biology and Biology Education, Idaho State University, 2009
M.S., Biology, University of North Dakota, 2005
B.S., Biology, University of North Dakota, 2003

“It is my goal as an educator not only to yield learners with an appreciation of the biological sciences and the diversity of life, but also to produce individuals with improved abilities to formulate, think critically about, and communicate scientific ideas.”

Background
Kelsey Metzger is a broadly trained molecular and evolutionary biologist with a strong interest in undergraduate education, advising, and education research.

Teaching
At UMR, I am helping to develop and deliver courses in the life sciences such as Integrative Biology and Introduction to Health Sciences I, as well as working collaboratively with other faculty, staff, and post-docs on courses across the curriculum.

Prior to my arrival at UMR, I taught a variety of classes including Introductory Biology, Genetics, Cell Biology Lab, Molecular Biology Techniques, Colloquium on Genetics and Society, and a seminar course on Levels of Selection in Evolution. In addition, I served as an NSF GK-12 Fellow for the 2008-2009 academic year co-teaching sophomores, juniors and seniors in a dual-enrollment Anatomy and Physiology course at Century High School in Pocatello, ID.

It is my goal as an educator not only to yield learners with an appreciation of the biological sciences and the diversity of life, but also to produce individuals with improved abilities to formulate, think critically about, and communicate scientific ideas. To this end, my classes regularly require students to express themselves in pairs or small groups, work collaboratively on problem sets or case studies, write short answer and essay responses to scientific questions, read and discuss primary literature, interpret data, and write a scientific paper. My own experiences in research at the lab bench and computer allow me to design and deliver authentic learning experiences that do not focus so much on the memorization of minutia, but rather emphasize overarching biological concepts and the ability to place ideas in a broader context. This framework of emulating the practice of science for teaching science helps place students in the kind of learning role that I envision for them, not as passive vessels into which I can deposit my wisdom, but rather as active participants in a community of learners. I firmly believe that science educators have a responsibility to guide future scientists, practitioners, and citizens by facilitating students’ learning and mastery of concepts and practices in the sciences.

Research
Research in Biological Sciences

The common thread that weaves through all of my biological research is molecular genetics, but each project has been carried out in different model systems and emphasized different focal questions, which has contributed significantly to the breadth of my knowledge in biology. In my biological research, I have utilized various molecular biology wet-lab techniques in addition to computational bioinformatics techniques to pursue a range of research questions. Most recently, my research has focused on characterizing selective pressures, nucleotide substitution rates, and phylogenetic relationships of chemokine receptor genes, which mediate immune responses in humans.

Research on Teaching and Learning
I am also interested in pursuing research projects on the scholarship of teaching and learning, specifically addressing effective teaching methods and curriculum design, assessing student learning, and the effects of an integrated learning environment on student learning.

Find Publications Here

Rachel Olson, PhD
Senior Lecturer, CLI

Speciality: Biology

Phone: 1 507 258 8104
Fax: (507) 258-8066
Office: Paine
Email: olsonrl@r.umn.edu 

Education
B.A., Biology, Concordia College Moorhead, MN
M.S., Entomology, Michigan State University
Ph.D., Entomology, Michigan State University

Background
During my undergraduate studies I had the wonderful opportunity to be apart of various research projects ranging from molecular biology to mathematical modeling to bioassessment of Alaskan stream health. Upon graduation I worked for Viromed Laboratories in Minnetonka, MN performing and developing assays for the Antimicrobial Research and Testing Services / Clinical Trials department. These experiences solidified my interest in the sciences and my desire to continue formal training.

I earned my M.S. in Entomology from Michigan State University. During this experience I was trained in electrophysiological and molecular biological techniques while investigating the functional and pharmacological characterization of Drosophila melanogaster voltage-gated sodium channels. I was recently awarded my Ph.D. in Entomology from Michigan State University where I worked on the phylogeny of a native group of beetles (Trogoderma) and collaborated with the USDA APHIS to develop molecular methods of detecting the invasive species Trogoderma granarium (the Khapra beetle).

Teaching
I have been passionate and excited about teaching since I was 16 years old working as a swimming lesson instructor for the local YMCA.  During my undergraduate years I worked as a mathematics tutor for the Academic Enhancement Center at Concordia College, Moorhead, MN. I have embraced both traditional and non-traditional teaching opportunities during my graduate studies at Michigan State University. I have worked as a camp counselor to MSU’s Insect World Science Camp and aided in the development and execution of the advanced-student learning experiences (student ages ~14-18). I have developed and taught a variety of classes through the Bug House in the Department of Entomology at MSU for audiences ranging from K-12 students, daycare groups, college-students, scouts to adult-learners such as the Greater Lansing Orchid Society. The greatest influence toward my professional development came from six years of working for the Center for Integrated Studies in General Sciences (CISGS) at MSU. Here I worked as a teaching assistant, co-coordinator and coordinator working with a team of individuals to execute required laboratory experiences for non-science majors. One of the rewarding challenges of teaching a course aimed at non-science majors is making the course relevant toward their lives to ensure their interest and retention of material. Through the CISGS I also had the opportunity to co-teach a study-abroad course that contained an exciting mixture of science- and non-science majors.   

At UMR I will join Dr. Metzger and Professor Silveira this fall to teach Molecular Genetics and Advanced Topics in Molecular and Cellular Biology and Genetics.

Research
Assuming that all information taught is inherently relevant, retention of that material must be crucial. Because of my experience in a traditional classroom setting, outreach settings and study-abroad, it seems retention is best achieved when an emotional, personal connection is made with the material. Conversations with prior students have made it evident that material retained struck a personal chord. This topic is a focus of scientific scholarship that I would like to pursue in the future.
I am also interested in continuing to improve the taxonomic knowledge of Trogoderma.

Andy PetzoldAndrew Petzold, PhD
Assistant Professor, CLI

Speciality: Biology

Phone: 1 507 258 8219
Fax: (507) 258-8066
Office: Paine
Email: petzo002@umn.edu

Education
Ph.D., Comparative and Molecular Biosciences, University of Minnesota, 2010
B.A., Biology, Hamline University

“UMR allows students to find their own intellectual niche by providing a wide base of knowledge, integrated both across disciplines and across educational levels thus creating a well rounded individual able to confront the challenges of an ever changing world.”

Background
Andrew Petzold began his academic career being interested in how genes can create differences in the functioning of neural networks. He received a Bachelor of Arts from Hamline University specializing in Biology and Comparative Anatomy. He then began his graduate work in the Comparative and Molecular Biosciences program through the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Minnesota, researching the genetics of nicotine response using larval zebrafish as a model organism. After receiving his PhD in 2010, he accepted a position as a lecturer at the University of Minnesota Rochester. In 2013, Dr. Petzold obtained a tenure-track position at UMR.  

Teaching
Dr. Petzold's teaching experiences have been varied, from educating elementary school teachers on developmental biology and genetics to instructing summer camps on human health and disease to teaching upper level biology courses in Immunology. He believes that for a student to thrive educationally, the student must have a want to learn and a reliability to the subject being approached. In all of his classes, he attempts to teach using this philosophy, placing the student at the center of the knowledge attempting to create an environment best suited for student learning. Through this manner of teaching, UMR allows students to find their own intellectual niche by providing a wide base of knowledge, integrated both across disciplines and across educational levels, thus creating a well rounded individual able to confront the challenges of an ever changing world.

At UMR, Dr. Petzold is responsible for teaching Anatomy and Physiology I (BIOL 2331), a requirement for all students at UMR, offered during the first semester of their sophomore year, and Immunology (BIOL 4364). He has also contributed to a number of other classes including Microbiology, Human Development, Anatomy and Physiology II, and an elective seminar on Genetically Modified Organisms.

Research
Dr. Petzold is engaged with a variety of research activities that generally can be categorized into two major areas of focus: educational research on the communication of science to non-scientific audiences, and scientific research on group learning in adult zebrafish. His educational interest is in developing the ability of the student to communicate to a non-scientific public or to their peers - qualities that are beneficial to the development of the student's career, whether within the sciences or not. To this end, he has developed an activity that explores communication of scientific ideas to non-scientific audiences as a form of curricular review embedded within BIOL 2331. Pairing a semester review with the development of non-scientific communication skills allows the students to accomplish both the learning of new skills with the needed review before a comprehensive exam. Dr. Petzold strives to discover how this can best be approached to allow students to be best prepared for any field that they will enter in the future.

One of the goals of the UMR curriculum is to increase the practice and exposure of UMR students to basic scientific research by complementing the research being done at UMR with research done outside of UMR in collaborating laboratories. In addition to this educational research endeavor, Dr. Petzold takes part in collaborative research with Dr. Robert Dunbar and a group of students on the transfer of learning amongst groups of adult zebrafish. By training groups of zebrafish (Danio rerio) to respond to a stimulus by entering a designated chamber of a fish tank, we are able to examine the dynamics of group learning within a model system (similar to those aspects found within a classroom). This project, developed in conjunction with undergraduate students, exposes students to authentic basic research and the potential difficulties that are associated with the researh - learning science by doing science.

Find Publications Here

Jennifer WollschlagerJennifer Wollschlager, MS
Senior Teaching Specialist, CLI

Speciality: Biology

Phone: 1 507 258 8235
Fax: (507) 258-8066
Office: Paine
Email: jwollsch@umn.edu

Education
M.S., Marine Biology and Systematics, Ohio State University, 2011
B.S., Marine Biology, Eckerd College, 2008

“I firmly believe in interacting with students outside of the classroom to answer questions and discuss difficult material.”

Background
I have always been on a track to pursue a degree in Marine Biology. In the process of getting my undergraduate degree I developed an interest in physiology. As a result, I pursued opportunities to aid in teaching physiology courses at the Ohio State University. While teaching these courses I discovered a love for teaching, which led me to find UMR. I am thrilled to be teaching at a university with a strong learner-centered environment and to gain experience in teaching at such an innovative university.

Teaching
While working on my Master’s degree, I taught a variety of courses. These included: Introductory Physiology, Animal Form and Function, Introductory Aquatic Biology, Diversity and Systematics of Organisms Laboratory, and Introductory Biology.

I will be aiding in the delivery of Anatomy and Physiology and Molecular Genetics as well as other Biology courses. I am excited to spend time directly interacting with students at the Just Ask Center as well. I firmly believe in interacting with students outside of the classroom to answer questions and discuss difficult material.

Research
My research addressed a globally invasive hydrozoan, Cordylophora caspia. Despite significant genetic diversity it has not been split into genetically defined species due to it’s high physiological and morphological plasticity. All the characters used to define C. caspia change in relation to salinity and therefore are unreliable for classification. I explored nematocyst size and type as a possible morphological character for classification. Nematocysts are the stinging cells that all Cnidarians possess and may be informative for taxonomy, but may also be plastic. I found that nematocysts are not useful for classification of C. caspia species, but they are also not plastic in regards to salinity. Their size may be correlated to another factor, such as prey type and abundance.

Find Publications Here

Micaela HaasMicaela Haas, Biology (MS)
Teaching Specialist, CLI

Specialty: Biology

Phone: 507-258-8103
Fax: (507) 258-8066
Office: Paine
Email: haasx258@r.umn.edu

Deepali Butani, Ph.D.
Senior Lecturer, CLI

Speciality: Chemistry

Phone: 1 507 258 8101
Fax: (507) 258-8066
Office: Paine
Email: dbutani@r.umn.edu

Education
Ph.D., Texas Tech University, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, 2011
M.Sc., Delhi University, Department of Chemistry, 2004
B.Sc.., Delhi University, Department of Chemistry, 2002

Background & Teaching
Deepali Butani received her Ph.D. in Chemistry in August 2011 from Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas, where she pursued her research under Dr. David M. Birney in the field of Physical Organic Chemistry studying reaction mechanisms of pericyclic and pseudopericylic reactions. She also holds a Graduate Certification in Higher Education Administration from Texas Tech University. She is from New Delhi, India. She came to United States in 2005. She holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Chemistry from Delhi University, India. Before coming to UMR, she has taught as the Visiting Assistant Professor at Gettysburg College and Dickinson College in Pennsylvania where she taught various chemistry courses. Dr. Butani will be teaching Organic Chemistry courses at UMR.

Xavier Prat-ResinaXavier Prat-Resina, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, CLI

Speciality: Chemistry

Phone: 1 507 258 8215
Fax: (507) 258-8066
Office: Paine
Email: pratr001@umn.edu

Education
Ph.D. Chemistry, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, 2004
M.S. Chemistry, Universitat de Barcelona, 2000
B.S. Chemistry, Universitat de Barcelona, 2000

“Tell me and I'll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I'll understand.”

Background
Xavier's background is in theoretical chemistry and biochemistry. He uses Quantum, Classical and Statistical Mechanics to build computational models to study the chemical processes of life. At the same time, his passion for computers led him to use molecular simulations and other kinds of visual technology to enhance chemistry learning.

After finishing his PhD in Spain, he went to the United States as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Wisconsin Madison (www.chem.wisc.edu), to study theoretical models of membrane bound enzymes with computational tools. He went back to Spain to hold a research position at the Barcelona Research Biomedical Park (www.prbb.org). After a year he decided to refocus his interests on education and came back to the US to work in the Chemical Education Digital Library (www.chemeddl.org) and the Journal of Chemical Education, where he developed web materials for learning chemistry.

Please click on this link for additional information on Xavier Prat-Resina - http://umn.edu/home/pratr001.

Teaching
Xavier’s passion for teaching goes beyond his job. He sees chemistry everywhere—in books and people, in ancient history and in daily news, on earth and in space. He sees it all over and tries to get everyone involved in this vision. At UMR, he will be using this passion to design and teach the curriculum for Chemistry and Biochemistry.  In these courses, he wants to not only teach students how to learn, but teach them how to question what they learn, to provoke questions rather than providing the answers.

Research
Research in Molecular Simulations
I create computational models of biomolecules to investigate their chemistry.

Computers are tremendously useful tools for repeating the same task over and over again. They are used to build atomistic models of biomolecules in their cellular environment. I use a series of tools from Quantum, Classical and Statistical Mechanics to study the chemical reactions involved in the chemistry of life.

Research on Learning
I develop web materials to teach science and assess their pedagogical value. On a broader perspective I investigate the role of technology in learning.

The erruption of the Web in educational materials has changed the way technology and information is used in learning. While printed textbooks include pictures, static plots and tables of data, now one can find online digital learning objects with interactive graphics and simulations that add visual and kinesthetic value to the learning experience.

Many areas in science can benefit from graphing tools, interactive applets and simulations.  Knowing the what, when and where of technology in the class is essential for an ever-increasing technical society.

Development of Teaching Technologies
Learning technologies

Find Publications Here

Michelle Nelson, Ph.D.
Senior Lecturer, CLI

Speciality: Chemistry

Phone: 1 507 258 8233
Fax: (507) 258-8066
Office: Paine
Email: mknelson@r.umn.edu

Education
Ph. D., Department of Chemistry, University of California San Diego, 2004
B.S., Colorado State University Pueblo, 1998

“The most basic fundamental truth is found in mathematics. Applied math is physics. Applied physics is chemistry. Applied chemistry is biology. Applied biology is life. Therefore, in the center of the search between truth and life, there you will find chemistry.”

Background
I earned my Ph. D in Organic Chemistry in 2004. I then worked as a research scientist in the chemical industry for four years. At Itherx, a biotech company, I was part of an interdisciplinary team to synthesize viable drug targets for use in biological applications. My research focused on establishing structure-activity relationships and improving the solubility, pharmacokinetics, and toxicity profiles of lead compounds. I also spent two years at ChemVentures,Inc., a contract research organization, where I prepared large libraries of small organic molecules. In 2009, I moved from sunny San Diego to the winter wonderland in La Crosse, WI. This move gave me the opportunity to pursue one of my many passions: teaching.

Teaching
My role as an educator is to captivate students’ attention by providing real-life applications and passion for the subject, to enhance comprehension through the use of technology, to encourage and support them in developing rigorous study skills, and to create a class environment of inclusiveness.

My favorite part of teaching has always been the one-on-one interaction with a student. I enjoy the aha moment when a student understands a difficult concept. UMR gives me the opportunity to interact at this level by incorporating many tutoring hours into my course load.

I have taught many chemistry courses including Introduction to the Periodic Table, Introduction to Physical Science, General Chemistry, and Organic Chemistry Lab. I also led discussion sections for General and Organic Chemistry. I have tutored students throughout my undergraduate and graduate career.

Find Select Publications and Abstracts Here

Josh Marell, Ph.D.
Lecturer, CLI

Speciality: Chemistry

Phone: 1 507 258 8207
Fax: (507) 258-8066
Office: Paine
Email: mare0051@r.umn.edu

Tim DohertyTim Doherty, PhD
Lecturer, CLI

Specialty: Chemistry

Phone: 507-258-8110
Fax: (507) 258-8066
Office: Paine
Email: dohe0039@r.umn.edu

Oleg KazakovOleg Kazakov, PhD
Lecturer, CLI

Specialty: Chemistry

Phone: 507-258-8210
Fax: (507) 258-8066
Office: Paine
Email: kazak013@r.umn.edu

Angie MejiaAngie Mejia, PhD 
Assistant Professor, CLI

Specialty: Civic Engagement

Phone: 507-258-8024
Fax: (507) 258-8066
Office: Paine
Email: amejiame@r.umn.edu

James Thomas Ford, Ph.D.
Senior Lecturer, CLI

Speciality: History

Phone: 1 507 258 8032
Fax: (507) 258-8066
Office: Paine
Email: jtford@umn.edu

Education
Ph.D., History, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2000
M.A., History, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1992
B.A., History, University of California, Santa Cruz, 1990

“That is another of your odd notions,” said the Prefect, who had a fashion of calling every thing 'odd' that was beyond his comprehension, and thus lived amid an absolute legion of ‘oddities.’  Edgar Allan Poe, “The Purloined Letter”

Background
Born and bred in Los Angeles with a yearning to traverse strange lands, meet diverse peoples, and, evidently, explore the darker side of humanity, I began my academic career studying early modern Europe in graduate school and beyond. Throughout years of teaching, reading, and traveling, however, I increasingly turned toward the subject of genocide—an interest reinforced by military experience in Afghanistan and Kuwait. Nietzsche once wrote: “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster.” Hopefully I haven’t gazed into the abyss too long. Evil fascinates me, but the resiliency of victims and victimized communities likewise intrigues me. What started out as an exploration of genocide in Germany, Turkey and elsewhere ultimately fed an abiding appreciation for the culture, history, and topography of these places beyond the one dark chapter of a nation’s past that initially drew me.

Teaching
These days I distinguish three overlapping aspects of my teaching career: global learning, short-term study abroad, and community engagement. My ultimate goal as an instructor in the humanities is to help students think, read and write critically about the complexities of the human experience. I provide them the tools with which they can establish a frame of reference, formulate their own questions, and seek answers to those questions. My intention is that they come out of the course mindful that history is essentially about interpretation. The course curriculum, ever the product of experimentation, equips students to draw meaningful connections between the past and present.

Research
I am currently researching the use of historical memoirs as an effective teaching tool in a comparative genocide course.

Marcia NicholsMarcia Nichols, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, CLI

Speciality: Literature

Phone: 1 507 258 8213
Fax: (507) 258-8066
Office: Paine
Email: mdnichol@umn.edu

Education
Ph.D., Literature, University of South Carolina, 2010
M.A., English, Missouri State University, 2002
B.A., English, Missouri State University, 2000

“I believe that teaching should strive to inculcate critical thinking skills to enable students to learn beyond the classroom. True learning is not the mastery of a set of facts or texts; it is the ability to generate new ideas, to perceive new connections in the interworking of the myriad factors that make up one’s reality.”

Background
Marcia Nichols received a PhD in Literature, with an emphasis on 18th century American and British literature from the University of South Carolina. She has also been a Mellon Dissertation Fellow at the McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, a short-term Mellon Research Fellow at the Library Company of Philadelphia, and Presidential Doctoral Fellow at the University of South Carolina. She has taught literature and composition classes at the University of South Carolina and Midlands Technical College and composition classes at Missouri State University.

Teaching
At UMR I am responsible for developing and delivering the literature portions of the Humanities component of the BSHS core, namely Introduction to Literature. Before arriving at UMR, I taught a variety of composition and literature courses, including, Introduction to Literature; the American Literature survey; Incest, Miscegenation and Adultery in American Literature; and Identity and Self in American Letters.

I believe that teaching should strive to inculcate critical thinking skills to enable students to learn beyond the classroom. True learning is not the mastery of a set of facts or texts; it is the ability to generate new ideas, to perceive new connections in the interworking of the myriad factors that make up one’s reality. I think that the humanities classroom is an ideal space to encourage students to be curious about their world and its values and assumptions. By giving students the tools to interrogate the images and words that surround them, they can become thinking agents and not simply passive recipients of ideas. My goal is to create self-aware, self-reliant thinkers both in and outside of the classroom.

Research
My disciplinary research explores constructions of gender and sexuality in British and American literature, medicine and science in the long Eighteenth Century. In particular, I am interested in elucidating a nuanced history of the rhetorical constructions of masculinist self-hood and the sexed female body in midwifery manuals and other writings of the era by performing a comparative analysis of the extant material texts themselves in addition to textual analysis in order to enrich our current understanding of obstetrics, gender and sex. By comparing and contrasting multiple editions and iterations of the same titles across the long eighteenth century, my work sheds new light on the interactions of authors, publishers and readers and exposes the ways in which ideas about gender and sex were formed, transformed and entrenched over time.

Currently I have two major education research projects underway, both in conjunction with fellow UMR faculty members. In the data-gathering stage, the first project is intended to examine the efficacy of UMR’s Writing Integrated Curriculum in a student’s first two academic years. The second project, in collaboration with Dr. Robert Dunbar, explores the effects on empathy development in anatomy students who have been taught about the history and problems of scientific objectivity.

Future education research interests include group work dynamics and the use of metacognition in reading journal writing.

Find Publications Here

Jennifer WacekJennifer Wacek, Ph.D.
Senior Lecturer, CLI

Speciality: Literature

Phone: 1 507 258 8013
Fax: (507) 258-8066
Office: Paine
Email: jawacek@umn.edu

Education
Ph.D., Comparative Literature, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2015
M.A., Comparative Literature, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2007
B.A., English, College of St. Benedict, 2003

“I believe that these encounters with literature can push students to be not only better people or better scientists but better citizens of the world in which we live.”

Background
I am currently working on my dissertation in Comparative Literature. My research focuses on issues of gender and community in literary texts in Arabic, French, and Spanish from North Africa and the Caribbean. In the context of teaching literature, I am interested in the ways that reading texts from diverse times and places can engage students in thoughtful discussions of such contemporary issues as race, gender, and difference. These discussions are important for the development of all students but particularly important for UMR’s students as they move into careers in health sciences. The opportunity to work with these students and to be a part of this new university is incredibly motivating and inspiring.

Teaching
At UMR, I work with Humanities 1433: Literature in Historical and Cultural Context, and Humanities 3471: Literatures of Diversity, in addition to working collaboratively with other faculty members to develop and deliver the course content. I am also working with UMR's writing faculty to develop a writing center along with a peer-tutoring program.

I have taught literature previously at both the undergraduate and the high school level. I have taught a wide variety of courses including Literature of Comparative Race and Ethnicity, Creation Stories, The Monstrous in Modern Literature, and Introduction to American Literature. I also have experience tutoring writing and developing training sessions for peer tutors. My goal in teaching literature is to help students become active learners and critical thinkers through the analysis of literary texts. Literature can facilitate deep thinking and discussion on a wide range of important issues, and it allows students to come into contact with people, places, and things that are far from their daily lives. I believe that these encounters can push students to be not only better people or better scientists but better citizens of the world in which we live.

Christian Ballam, M.S.
Senior Teaching Specialist, CLI

Speciality: Mathematics

Phone: 1 507 258 8238
Fax: (507) 258-8066
Office: Paine
Email: cgballam@r.umn.edu

Education
M.S., Mathematics, South Dakota State University, 2011
B.S., Mathematics, Utah State University, 2006

“One of the best ways to learn a concept, is being able to explain it to
someone else.”

Background
I received my Masters in Mathematics from South Dakota State University. My Bachelors, also in Mathematics, was received from Utah State University.

Teaching
My goal as an educator is for the individual success of each and every student. A common misconception in math is that the answer is the ultimate goal. I believe this to be false. How we get to the answer is far more important than the actual answer. I strive to teach students how to ask questions of themselves in order to resolve scenarios in the mathematical world. With these ends I hope for the student to be independently successful in fields outside of math where similar techniques can be utilized.

Jered BrightJered Bright, M.S.
Senior Teaching Specialist, CLI

Speciality: Mathematics

Phone: 1 507 258 8105
Fax: (507) 258-8066
Office: Paine
Email: brigh042@r.umn.edu

Education
M.S. Mathematics with Education Emphasis, University of Minnesota Twin Cities, 2012
B.S. Mathematics with Education Emphasis, University of Minnesota Twin Cities, 2010

“Mathematics is about recognizing and articulating the patterns that arise from numbers, problem solving with these patterns, and generalizing the patterns to the highest level possible. A mathematician, armed with an arsenal of problem solving skills, is the conduit for the formalization of patterns.”

Background
I grew up near Rochester (a mere 15 miles away) on a family farm. When I first entered college at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, I was an Astrophysics major. After the first semester in college, I decided against that route and eventually declared a mathematics major in my sophomore year. At that point, I discovered that I was pretty good at math, but I loved teaching it. I sought out opportunities to teach math and eventually obtained a Masters degree in Mathematics.

I currently hold a Minnesota State Teaching License to teach Math in grades 5-12 and am pursuing a second Masters of Education in Mathematics at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. I also coordinate and teach in UMTYMP Rochester (r.umn.edu/umtymp) in addition to serving as UMR Faculty.

Teaching
My goal as an instructor is to have every one of my students be proficient problem solvers. Many times in mathematics, students understand the concepts but often become frustrated when they do not see how all the pieces of the puzzle fit together in a larger, or different, context. Developing the logic and other skills related to putting these pieces of recognized patterns together is what mathematics is all about, not the answer like so many believe. In my teaching, I strive to develop these skills in my students so that they are able to work through problems they encounter in their future careers.

Coupled with this is my personal goal to establish a growth mindset in my students. When encountering a challenge in a math course, many of my students fall victim to negative self-messages - "I'm not a math person", "I don't like math", etc. My goal is to combat this by encouraging perseverance and shifting perspectives so students can reach success in both the near and distant future.

Abraham AyeboAbraham Ayebo, PhD
Assistant Professor, CLI

Specialty: Mathematics

Phone: 507-258-8216
Fax: (507) 258-8066
Office: Paine
Email: aayebo@r.umn.edu

Aaron KostkoAaron Kostko, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, CLI

Speciality: Philosophy

Phone: 1 507 258 8211
Fax: (507) 258-8066
Office: Paine
Email: atkostko@r.umn.edu

Education
Ph.D., Philosophy, University of Cincinnati, 2013
M.A., Philosophy, University of Cincinnati, 2008
B.A., Philosophy, University of Akron, 2001

“Philosophy is not about getting the right answers; it's about learning to ask the right questions.”

Background
I completed my Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Cincinnati. My areas of specialization include philosophy of mind, philosophy of science, and philosophy of psychiatry. Prior to coming to UMR, I taught philosophy at Saginaw Valley State University and the University of Cincinnati.

Teaching
I am responsible, along with Professors Wright and Mondy, for developing and teaching Introduction to Philosophy and Introduction to Ethics as well as advanced courses, such as Ethics in Medicine and the History and Philosophy of Science.
Many think that philosophy is relevant to health care only to the extent that it can help to address well-known biomedical ethical issues such as abortion, physician-assisted suicide, and stem cell research. While philosophers certainly have something to say about these important issues, the role of philosophy in the education of future health care professionals is much broader than this. Philosophy is a useful tool for analyzing questions and concepts that are central to the health care profession: What is a profession? What should be the aim(s) of the health care profession? If the aim is to promote health and eradicate disease, then what does it mean to be healthy or diseased? What are the standards of evidence upon which treatment decisions should be based? What obligations do health care professionals have to their patients and to society? How should conflicts between these obligations be handled? In addressing these fundamental questions, the role of philosophy to the education of future health care professionals is indispensable.

Research
My philosophical research focuses on methodological, conceptual, and ethical issues that arise in psychiatric research, classification, and treatment.  In particular, I focus on the role of epistemic and non-epistemic value judgments on decisions about the selection of causal models, research designs, and data analysis techniques and their subsequent role in the construction of psychiatric classifications and treatment decisions.

My primary area of educational research focuses on identifying the extent to which students adopt various forms of relativism, the view that judgments about truth, knowledge, or morality are dependent upon cultural or individual standards.  This area of research involves a longitudinal study of the relationship between students' degree of relativistic beliefs, academic success, and performance on various critical thinking tasks. I plan to use this data to help evaluate alternative pedagogical strategies for teaching relativism in introductory philosophy courses and, more generally, for teaching critical thinking skills to undergraduate students.  A second area of my educational research focuses on the relationship between student learning and student developmental outcomes. This area of research involves a longitudinal study of the relationship between students' level of tolerance with ambiguity, academic success, and exposure to philosophy.

Find Select Publications Here

Jake Wright, Ph.D.
Senior Lecturer, CLI

Speciality: Philosophy
Phone: 1 507 258 8120
Fax: (507) 258-8066
Office: Paine
Email: jwwright@r.umn.edu

Education
Ph.D., University of Missouri, Department of Philosophy, 2014
M.A., University of Missouri, Department of Philosophy, 2011
B.A., Knox College, Department of Philosophy, 2003

"We are all smart. Distinguish yourself by being kind."

Background
Dr. Wright came to UMR in 2014 after earning his Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Missouri. Within philosophy, he specializes in academic and teaching ethics, with additional interests in philosophy of biology, epistemology, and logic.

Please click here for additional information on Dr. Wright.

Teaching
Dr. Wright wears a number of teaching hats at UMR. He teaches philosophy courses both individually and as a member of the philosophy teaching team, as well as teaching student development courses like Living on Purpose and University Experience. Jake also plays an active role in the UMR Summer Bridge program and currently chairs the First Year Seminar Committee.

Research
Dr. Wright's research focuses on the ethical and pedagogical justifications for in-class practices, especially at the introductory level. Because introductory pedagogies vary significantly, his research has been similarly diverse. Jake has examined the ethical and pedagogical justifications of limited in-class technology bans, the justifications for favoring certain in-class contributions over others, strategies for increasing student understanding of disparate course and disciplinary goals, and the benefits of incorporating contemplative exercises into introductory philosophy classes.

Jake's research has been published in leading pedagogical journals and has given him the chance to present his work at leading international conferences, including meetings of the Society for Philosophy and Psychology; the Philosophy of Science Association; the International Society for the History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology; and the Society for Research into Higher Education.

Find Selected Publications Here

Brian Mondy, Ph.D.
Senior Lecturer, CLI

Speciality: Philosophy
Phone: 1 507 258 8111
Fax: (507) 358-8066
Office: Paine
Email: bjmondy@r.umn.edu

Education
Ph.D., Philosophy, University of Miami, 2011
M.A., Philosophy, Universoty of Miami, 2008
B.A., Philosophy, Bethel College, 2003

“Philosophy is a living discipline in which difficult questions concerning, for instance, the nature of knowledge, the mind, personhood, and morality are dealt with through carefully giving, examining, and evaluating reasons.  In taking a philosophy course a student should expect to improve his/her ability to reason and evaluate reasons.”

Background
After starting college as an engineering major, and transferring schools to study theology, I discovered that philosophy was the discipline that studied the questions that most interested me. My interest in studying questions concerning the nature of knowledge, morality, and value led me to the University of Miami where I completed my dissertation, “Answering Questions: The Aims and Value of Inquiry,” in 2011. Before coming to the Center for Learning Innovation I taught as a teaching assistant at the University of Miami from 2006-2010, where I received the Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award in 2008, as an adjunct professor at Miami-Dade College, and as a full-time Visiting Lecturer at Florida International University from 2010-2012.

Teaching
With my colleagues Cameron Brewer and Aaron Kostko, I teach Introduction to Philosophy, Introduction to Ethics, Ethics of Medicine and Sciences, and History and Philosophy of Science. At previous institutions I have also taught Analytic Philosophy, Topics in Epistemology: Social Epistemology, and Topics in Epistemology: The Value of Truth and Knowledge.  Philosophy classes provide students with a particularly good opportunity to reflect in a structured and careful way on their own deeply held values and beliefs, and also on the values and beliefs of those who think differently from them. To help students to truly get the most out of this opportunity, I attempt to develop in them the skills that close philosophical study produces: the ability to ask questions precisely, to reason through the consequences of a view, to distinguish concepts, and to articulately express ideas. These are portable skills that students can utilize in their social, civic, and professional lives.

Research
My research generally centers around two questions: (1) What are the goals of inquiry, and how can an account of these goals inform our views concerning the value of reasons, truth, knowledge and understanding? (2) What is the relationship between epistemic, practical, and moral norms? In my dissertation, and in papers currently under review and in progress, I examine the dynamic process of inquiry in order to gain a new perspective on important questions in epistemology and the theory of value. By developing a view of inquiry I suggest that we can gain new insights into the nature and value of knowledge, understanding, justification, and truth, and that we can begin to uncover the relationships among normative domains such as epistemology, practical reason, and morality.

Find Select Publications and Abstracts Here

Bijaya AryalBijaya Aryal, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, CLI

Speciality: Physics

Phone: 1 507 258 8216
Fax: (507) 258-8066
Office: Paine
Email: baryal@umn.edu

Education
Ph.D., Physics, Kansas State University, 2007
M.S., Physics, Kansas State University, 2005
M.S., Physics, Tribhuvan University, 1994
B.S.; Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics, Tribhuvan University, 1992

“I have experienced that students not only find physics learning exciting and meaningful but also learn better when they know that physics is relevant to their lives or careers. It requires integrating teaching activities with contexts related to everyday life or professions to pique students’ interest.”

Background
I received my B.S. and M.S. degrees from Tribhuvan University, Nepal. I came to Kansas State University for graduate study, where I completed my M.S. and Ph.D. in physics. My research area for my M.S. degree was experimental condensed matter physics and my Ph.D. dissertation work was in physics education research. After completion of my Ph.D. in 2007, I joined the faculty of Lake Superior State University where I was an Assistant Professor of physics in the department of physical sciences. In July 2010, I joined University of Minnesota Rochester (UMR) as an Assistant Professor in the Center for Learning Innovation.

Teaching
At UMR, I am responsible for the design and instruction of physics courses using research-based novel techniques. To make physics learning useful to both students’ everyday life and professional life, I design teaching and learning activities and modules by integrating physics with other areas through collaboration with faculties of various disciplines at UMR.  

Before joining UMR, I taught a wide range of courses. My teaching experience at the undergraduate level encompass physics courses for engineering, science and non-science majors. During my service at Lake Superior State University, I taught introductory level physics courses infusing innovative instructional strategies in a traditional lecture/laboratory format. At Kansas State University, I had the opportunity to teach calculus-based physics in the studio format as well as other introductory classes. For almost all introductory courses that I have taught, I adopted strategies such as lecture demonstrations as well as question/answer sessions in lectures in order to maintain active student participation. My prior teaching also includes upper division undergraduate level physics courses such as optics, mechanics and electromagnetism. While teaching upper division undergraduate courses, I was able to use interactive strategies such as oral presentation, poster presentation and group discussion due to the small class sizes. Students integrated current research in the field with the relevant course content in their presentations. In group discussions, students were encouraged to come up with ideas that lead them to do research projects. Throughout my teaching career I have frequently used instructional strategies informed by physics education research.

Research
Research on Student Learning
My major research area is transfer of physics learning. I have investigated the role of physical models in facilitating transfer. The study showed that the use of the models does indeed prompt the transfer of relevant physics ideas. Particularly, classical analogies were found to be useful in helping students understand the contemporary physics concepts. My recent research on problem solving indicated that physical models facilitate problem solving transfer. I have also pursued studies on students’ preference for one type of physical model or computer visualization over another while learning and transferring abstract concepts. The research on transfer builds to explore potential misconceptions conveyed by these physical models and finds whether transfer is ubiquitous in different contexts involving abstract physics ideas. My research on transfer of learning extends to the investigation on transfer of physics to contexts in biophysics, biomedical imaging, nanoscience and engineering.

I also conduct research in the areas of cognitive theory of physics learning. I have studied students’ models of reasoning about abstract physical phenomena. My research has shown that students rely on everyday mechanical experiences to build models of abstract phenomena. I also investigate student models of reasoning on topics such as magnetic and electrical interactions and subatomic physics. This study uses a three-stage research methodology. The first stage uses surveys to establish a pattern of students’ models. In the next stage, based on the variations in survey responses, some of these students are interviewed to validate the models and investigate their origin. For the final stage, another survey is designed and administered which questions students about the concrete visible world as well as abstract physics concepts.

Physics Experimental Research
My experimental physics research focuses on the study of surface and surface interaction in nanoscale using Atomic Force Microscope (AFM). I have studied the critical Casmir effect in thin liquid films using AFM and ellipsometer. My current research interest is to study biological systems using AFM.

Find Publications Here

Kyle McLelland, MS
Teaching Specialist, CLI

Specialty: Physics

Phone: 507-258-8221
Fax: (507) 258-8066
Office: Paine
Email: mclellak@r.umn.edu

Robert DunbarRobert Dunbar, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, CLI

Speciality: Neuroscience

Phone: 1 507 258 8209
Fax: (507) 258-8066
Office: Paine
Email: dunb0011@r.umn.edu

Education
Ph.D., Neuroscience, University of Minnesota, 2002
M.A., Biology, Drake University, IA, 1995
B.S.S., Biology and History, Cornell College, IA, 1993

“I believe very strongly that an interactive, integrative, synergistic academic environment is the way to solve problems.”

Background
Attending and working at universities of various sizes and types along my academic/professional journey gave me the opportunity to experience a diversity of learning environments and form an idea about how I thought an ideal undergraduate community would look. As I transitioned from a postdoctoral research position to a world with greater teaching responsibilities, I actively searched for institutions that shared my view. Everything about the philosophical foundations of UMR and the Center for Learning Innovation satisfied my criteria for an effective undergraduate institution. A dynamic, integrated learning community with clearly articulated objectives and a commitment to continuous assessment of student progress toward those objectives were important qualities on my list of criteria. As a researcher, I have always been interested in learning and memory formation so the neuroscientist in me was also drawn to the part of the CLI's mission that focuses on data-driven research on learning. Being given the opportunity to be a part of an institution that combines an integrated curriculum, continuous assessment of student progress, and the ability to do data-driven research on the learning environment has been the professional equivalent of winning the lottery.

Teaching
My undergraduate teaching experience prior to arriving at UMR includes a wide variety of courses. These include: First-Year Seminar, The Brain, Biological Principles with Lab, Introduction to Human Physiology, Human Anatomy with Cadaver Lab, Human Physiology with Lab, Neuroscience, Senior Capstone, Forensic Biology, Sculpting Science, and Introduction to Biopsychology.

At UMR, I play a primary role on the design and delivery of courses across the health science core. Examples include: Integrative Biology, Introduction to Health Sciences I, Anatomy/Physiology, and Neuroscience. Furthermore, the philosophy of integration of disciplines means that I play a secondary role in other courses across the curriculum.

Research
I have a driving interest in the process of learning and memory formation. My research to this point has utilized tools ranging from molecular biology and optical imaging to psychophysiology as a means to address specific hypotheses under the umbrella of this general interest.

A significant focus of my energies has been on investigations of changes in activity within cells of the cerebellum. Specifically, processing at the level of Purkinje neurons in the cerebellar cortex, a site known to display a form of cellular “learning” called long-term depression. More recently, my focus has shifted to the how neural networks and social networks recognize emergent solutions. I am particularly interested in exploring the characteristics of neural networks that are well suited to solution recognition and comparing the structure of those networks to the characteristics of social networks that excel in the same process. Moving from the neural network level to the systems level to the group level requires that we ask some critical questions: Is it reasonable to consider individual people “sub-processors” within the larger network? How do we recognize solutions in a group model? What are the most effective characteristics of a group for a solution to emerge, or for a solution to be recognized? Additionally, my interest in scientific research has also expanded beyond the bench in the last several years. I have found it more and more important to engage in an examination of two principle questions. The first is, “Are we using the most effective methods for content delivery?” and the second is, “How can we engage members of the scientific community and the general public in an effective discussion about the value of and ethical practices in research?”. The integrated curriculum and emphasis on data-driven learning research at UMR provides rich opportunities to pursue these questions and many others related to solution emergence, group learning, and decision making.

Find Select Publications and Abstracts Here

James WinchipJames Winchip, M.A.
Senior Teaching Specialist, CLI

Speciality: Psychology

Phone: 1 507 258 8237
Fax: (507) 258-8066
Office: Paine
Email: jwinchip@r.umn.edu

Education
M.A. Department of Psychology, University of Northern Iowa, 2004
B.A. Department of Psychology, University of Arizona, 2001

“Sometimes questions are more important than answers.”

Background
James Winchip holds an MA in psychology from the University of Northern Iowa. Before coming to UMR, he taught for one year at Monmouth College in Illinois and five years at Kirkwood Community college in Iowa.

Teaching
Prof Winchip is responsible for teaching Psychology, Life-span Development and Abnormal Psychology. He has also taught courses in Social Psychology and Statistics.

Jessie Barnett, Ph.D.
Senior Lecturer, CLI

Speciality: Public Health

Phone: 1 507 258 8113
Fax: (507) 258-8066
Office: Paine
Email: jbarnett@r.umn.edu

Education
Ph.D., University of Georgia, College of Public Health, 2013
M.P.H., University of Georgia, College of Public Health, 2010
B.B.A., University of Georgia, Terry College of Business, 2008

"Value the diversity of human experience." - Dr. Anneliese Singh

Background
This is my fourth year at UMR and I enjoy investigating the wide world of public health. Public health focuses on the prevention of disease, disability, and death and the promotion of health and wellness at the population level.  UMR's Center for Learning Innovation is the place to confront challenges in health head-on, and my background in Public Health and Health Promotion and Behavior allow me to do just that. For the past several years, I have been exploring the connection between the environment and human health. UMR is a wonderful place analyze the future of public health -- and the future of public health education.

For example, studies indicate improvement in a variety of health and wellness indicators after positive experiences in nature. Simultaneously, humans are losing our inherent and evolved connection with nature (biophilia) while suffering the consequences of harmful environmental exposures. Today’s health-focused students cannot address the significant and unprecedented health problems in isolation from broader environmental issues. From environmental considerations in clinical diagnostics to public health professionals involved in urban planning, the importance of increasing ecoliteracy in aspiring health and health care students cannot be understated. I have enjoyed working on these issues with health science students who possess exceptional foresight and the desire to make a large impact on the health of populations worldwide. This topic also opens the door for discussion about health disparities and health equity.

Before coming to UMR, I worked at the University of Georgia on a nationwide project studying substance abuse treatment centers. Specifically, we analyzed director/counselor/patient relationships and availability of smoking cessation services in treatment centers serving low-income clients. The project was a joint endeavor between researchers in the Public Health and Industrial-Organizational Psychology departments, and truly embodied the collaborative nature of successful work in public health. While at UGA, I also worked with the Center for Family Research on two projects. One evaluated the effectiveness of program dissemination by cooperative extension partners in rural Georgia counties, and the other was a longitudinal study investigating the relationship between chronic, racially influenced stress and physical health. My personal research and teaching at UGA centered around health equality, the LGBTQ population, and successful smoking cessation.

Teaching
I teach public health courses at UMR, including: Introduction to Public Health - A Global Perspective, Health Policy in a Global Context, Environmental Health and Justice, Social Determinants of Health - How Inequality Makes Us Sick, and Qualitative Methods in Health and Health Care. I also am involved in teaching a history of epidemics course with Dr. James Ford, and work with Prof. Shanna Altrichter and Dr. Molly Dingel on health policy.

Research
My research addresses health disparities and behavior change, as well as work in teaching pedagogy and experiential learning. I also specialize in qualitative research methods.

Find Publications Here

Kristin Osiecki, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, CLI

Speciality: Public Health

Phone: 1 507 258 8229
Fax: (507) 258-8066
Office: Paine
Email: kosiecki@r.umn.edu

Education
Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Rice University, Houston, TX, 2013 - 2015
PhD Public Health, University of Illinois at Chicago, 2013
MS Public Health, University of Illinois at Chicago, 2011
BS Health Education, University of Illinois at Urbana, 1989

"In these days of difficulty, we Americans everywhere must and shall choose the path of social justice…, the path of faith, the path of hope, and the path of love toward our fellow man."
-Franklin D. Roosevelt

Background
My professional experiences in government, non-profit and private industry have influenced my academic career. Space and place matter, requiring a multidisciplinary approach to investigate dynamic and complex public health issues in our communities. Furthermore, the built and physical environment, the human-made spaces that surround us, such as pollution, land use, age of housing, or food deserts shape the way in which we live, work, and play. Health disparity research confirms that poor, minority individuals living in urban and rural areas experience higher negative health outcomes after taking into consideration personal health behaviors. I am passionate about making a difference through innovative teaching in the classroom and improving the quality of life in our communities.

Teaching
I am motivated to learn and evolve as an educator to provide engaging and integrative curriculum to encourage students to build a foundation in theory while developing critical thinking skills. My interdisciplinary academic background in the public health field allows me to approach dynamic public health issues from a variety of perspectives. I teach core classes such as environmental health, epidemiology, research methods and public health policy but also new technologies, for example, geographic information systems and data mining. My experience includes the development and implementation of courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels both in the classroom and online.

Research
I look at the effectiveness of incorporating experiential learning strategies into the classroom which includes: a combination of theory and application, assessments that make connections between learning and real world situations, and reflection to develop personal insights. If students are provided an opportunity to participate in real-life public health projects, will they become engaged learners? Also, public health is rooted in individualistic knowledge, attitudes and behaviors. Does reflection help students reconcile their personal beliefs to address an issue from a population perspective? My public health research focuses on collaborating with multidisciplinary teams to solve complex public health issues in our communities by approaching the problem from different perspectives. I investigate the mechanisms and mediating factors to assess the associations between disease incidence and social and environmental covariates in disadvantaged communities. I use statistics and geographic information system (GIS) methods to look at spatial associations of significance between social factors and environmental burden.

Find Publications Here

Shanna AltrichterShanna Altrichter, M.A.
Senior Teaching Specialist, CLI

Speciality: Sociology

Phone: 1 507-258-8231
Fax: (507) 258-8066
Office: Paine
Email: saltrich@r.umn.edu

Molly DingelMolly Dingel, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, CLI

Speciality: Sociology

Phone: 1 507-258-8206
Fax: (507) 258-8066
Office: Paine
Email: dinge016@umn.edu

Education
Postdoctoral Fellowship: Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, 2005 – 2007.
Ph.D., Sociology, University of Kansas, 2005
M.A., Sociology (with honors), University of Kansas, 2000
B.A., Mathematics and Sociology, Grinnell College, IA, 1998

“In every course I have taught, I have learned from my students. I have a strong belief that teachers must spend some time learning from students, and students should spend some time teaching both each other and teachers.”

Background
Though I started my undergraduate program thinking I would major in physics, sociology, with its focus on questions without easy answers, has always been an interest of mine. Sociology provides the tools to help us think through difficult questions, like why there were so few women and minorities in my physics courses. Over the course of my undergraduate education, I came to realize that the questions that I could ask in sociology created a compelling career path, and I chose to pursue a graduate degree in sociology. These questions included not only who was (or was not) doing science, but how scientific communities create bodies of knowledge, what bodies of knowledge were being created, and how that knowledge is understood and used in our social institutions, individuals’ lives, and in our global community.

I believe students learn best when they are engaged in the material and understand how that material relates to their lives and interests. I’m therefore excited to be part of creating a curriculum where the sciences, the social sciences, and the humanities are integrated together so that students have a concrete understanding of the importance of social aspects of science and medicine. In every course I have taught, I have learned from my students. I have a strong belief that teachers must spend some time learning from students, and students should spend some time teaching both each other and teachers.

Teaching
Prior to arriving at UMR, I taught a wide variety of sociology and women’s studies courses, including courses on social problems, families, women’s studies, women and science, sociological methods, medical sociology, social theory, and qualitative methods. At UMR, I draw upon these experiences to craft courses that relate to topics of interest for students pursuing a degree in the health sciences. These topics often draw heavily from the sociology of science and medicine.

Research
My disciplinary research stems from an interest in the social aspects of science and medicine. I am interested in how new technology and research, like new imaging technology, genetic studies, or knowledge of disease transmission, are changing the field of medicine. As a sociologist, behavioral genetics interests me because genetics is sometimes presented as a modern-day holy grail; the implication is that science will be able to see into our soul, see who we are, and why we make the choices we do. Genetic research often focuses our attention within the body and away from the important of social, structural, and contextual factors that also affect our bodies, choices, and behaviors. To explore these issues, I examine how behavioral genetic studies are portrayed in the media and how that portrayal differs from the publications and debates in the scientific community. I also investigate the ethical and social ramifications of characterizing addiction as a disease of the brain, or a trait embedded in our genes, instead of as a complex behavior influenced by an intricate web of social and biological causes. With collaborators, I have interviewed stakeholders in tobacco research and control, as well as patients seeking treatment for addiction, to explore how these individuals understand and act upon a genetic conception of addiction.

My interest in research on education is multifaceted. First, I am interested in group work and collaborative learning. Much research has demonstrated the value of collaborative learning, and most careers involve working in teams or closely with others. But how do we best teach students the skills they will eventually need in the workplace and beyond? Second, I am interested in student diversity, and, with fellow faculty member Starr Sage, am exploring what barriers students face here at UMR, and how students here define diversity.  Third, in the process of collecting data in my courses over several years, and in discussions with the faculty, student coaches, and other staff at UMR, it is clear that we are all dedicated to providing students with the best evidence-based education and educational environment that we can provide. In the course of trying to create the best environment for students, it has become clear that in order to effect change that can improve complicated issues regarding students, like meeting student learning outcomes or improving retention, singular actions taken by individuals within the institution are unlikely to create widespread change.  Instead, a concerted and collaborative effort is needed. However, this also requires robust formal communication pathways and tools to enact these changes. With primary collaborators Robert Dunbar and Xavier Prat-Resina, I am exploring the variety of ways to improve communication and developing the tools and processes that would both facilitate communication across the institution, and the integration of empirical evidence into course and curriculum design.

Find Select Publications and Abstracts Here

Teresa A. Henderson Vazquez, M.A.
Senior Teaching Specialist, CLI

Speciality: Spanish

Phone: 1 507 258 8232
Fax: (507) 258-8066
Office: Paine
Email: hend0284@r.umn.edu

Education
M.A., Department of Spanish and Portuguese, University of Iowa, 2004
B.A., Department of Spanish and Portuguese, University of Iowa, 1996

"Teaching and learning are acts of optimism and social justice. My primary goal is to facilitate students’ exploration of their own agency in a diverse and interconnected world."

Background
I originally intended to be an English professor, but could not resist the pull of Hispanic languages and cultures. During college, I went to Spain for a month and stayed for a year, studying Spanish, Basque, and the dangerous art of dancing with sticks. I returned, completed a Spanish Honors B.A., and continued on to graduate studies at the University of Colorado Boulder. I moved back to my home state of Iowa to complete my degree in Hispanic Literature and learn to Latin dance. During this time I lived in Paraguay for a month to study Guaraní and a month and a half in Argentina to shuffle papers. Before joining UMR I taught for six years at Indiana University East, where I received the Helen Lees Award for Excellence in Teaching and was an Indiana Campus Compact Faculty Fellow.  I was a member of the 2015 Collaborative Leadership Fellows cohort, became certified in the Intercultural Development Inventory in 2016, and was a member of the UMN Internationalizing Teaching and Learning cohort of 2016-17. I travel frequently to Mexico to visit family and to other Spanish-speaking countries whenever possible.

Teaching
I have taught Spanish courses at UMR since 2011. During the 2016-17 Internationalizing Teaching and Learning cohort program, I redeveloped the required Spanish sequence to specifically target UMR’s specialized student body; a process I began planning in 2014. The courses are now designed as one three-semester long course with an intentional focus on health-sciences communication uses and intercultural contexts, and incorporate an intercultural community engagement component. I am also a member of the highly collaborative and interdisciplinary team for UMR’s unique Community Collaboratory course, which has been honored by UMR with the 2014 Presidents’ Civic Engagement Steward Award. My goal in any course is to foster an environment in which students challenge themselves, each other, and the pedagogy, and intentionally develop their own professional and personal toolbox to better pursue their goals. I most value diversity of experience, collaborative strategies, and community engagement in my professional and personal lives and seek to support the same in my students. Courses at my previous institution have included Elementary through Intermediate Spanish, “Colonial Spanish America”, “Fair Trade vs Free Trade: the effects of globalization on Central American communities”, “Hispanic Women”, “The Hispanic World”, and “20th Century Spanish Literature”.

Aaron BruengerAaron Bruenger, Ph.D.
Senior Lecturer, CLI

Speciality: Writing

Phone: 1 507-258-8034
Fax: (507) 258-8066
Office: Paine
Email: brue0067@umn.edu

Education
Ph.D. English Language and Literature, University of Minnesota Twin Cities, 2009
BSE English Education, Pittsburg State University, 1998

“I believe the study of writing and communication is a critical part of higher education, not only because strong communication skills are vital for any career, but also because it forces students to examine the ways people use language and other symbols to shape the way we think, how we feel, and what we value as a society.”

Background
I have always been interested in the way people used language and visual representations to communicate messages and influence the world in which they live. I began my undergraduate studies in graphic design, where I learned the basics of effective information design. Later I changed to English Education because I was fascinated in the ways people used language to express their thoughts and to persuade others, and I wanted to help students develop this ability. After a few years of teaching high school, I decided to pursue a Ph.D. so that I could explore the ways people used rhetorical devices to shape our understanding of the world.
Before coming to UMR, I was at the Kansas City Art Institute, where I worked with aspiring artists on their language and critical thinking skills so they could achieve their educational, professional, and artistic pursuits.  

Teaching
I believe the study of writing and communication is a critical part of higher education, not only because strong communication skills are vital for any career, but also because it forces students to examine the ways people use language and other symbols to shape the way we think, how we feel, and what we value as a society.   However, it is also an area which causes students much frustration, learning new applications for skills they have had since they were small children. Because of this, I believe it is important to approach the teaching of writing and communication as a matter of individual development. When teaching students, I meet them where they are at as communicators and critical thinkers, and I help them cultivate the skills they need to be effective in their academic, professional, and social communities.
At UMR, I teach the Communications Methods course, which takes the language and critical thinking skills students developed in their first year of the BSHS program and applies them to a wide-range of social contexts.  Prior to UMR, I taught a variety of courses including Critical Writing and Reading, Advanced Composition, The Literature of Public Life, Analysis of the English Language, and The Art of Persuasion. All of these courses focused upon the ways that people use language and other mediums of communication to influence others and shape the communities in which they live.

In addition to teaching in the classroom, I also work in the Just ASK Writing Center. Again, I come to this position with extensive experience, having worked as a writing tutor at Pittsburg State University, the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, and the Kansas City Art Institute. I really enjoy this work, as often times it is focused, individualized instruction that helps students develop their writing and critical thinking skills.

Research
My research is focused upon the concept of ethos and the role that values and social mores play in creating credibility for arguments and acceptance of ideas. These questions manifest themselves in a wide-range of research projects:  student selection and incorporation of electronic sources, tutor identity and ethics in writing centers, the rhetoric of social movements, and “trolling” in online forums.

Find Selected Presentations Here

Bronson LemerBronson Lemer, M.F.A.
Senior Teaching Specialist, CLI

Speciality: Writing

Phone: 1 507-258-8234
Fax: (507) 258-8066
Office: Paine
Email: bjlemer@umn.edu

Education
M.F.A., Creative Writing, Minnesota State University, Mankato, 2008
B.A., English and Mass Communications, Minnesota State University Moorhead, 2005

“My hope is that students will be able to realize the potential of their writing as a means of expressing their thoughts, feelings, opinions, and personal identity.”

Background
I hold a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Before coming to UMR, I taught composition and humanities classes for Turtle Mountain Community College in Belcourt, North Dakota. I have also taught composition and creative writing for Minnesota State University, Mankato and onboard a U.S. Navy ship through the Navy College Program for Afloat College Education at Central Texas College. In addition to teaching composition and creative writing, I have also taught English as a Second Language (ESL) in Gyeongju, South Korea and in China for Fort Hays State University (Kansas).

Teaching
I’ve always imagined learning to be the act of discovery, where through lecture, reading, and discussion students learn to see the world in new ways. I also believe that students hold the natural ability to be critical thinkers – to question and analyze – and as an educator it is my job to help them realize these skills, to help them see the world in a different, more profound way. As an instructor of English, my goal for students involves helping them become critical thinkers. As students read and write, they come to realize these skills and use them to become socially responsible. I hope that students will look at the world in a new way and approach the world with a desire to take action, to utilize their skills as critical thinkers to implement change. Whether this change is small – within their families or circle of friends – or large – within their campus or community – my hope is that students will be able to realize the potential of their writing as a means of expressing their thoughts, feelings, opinions, and personal identity.

Research
My research interests include the ways creative writing and composition can be used to connect to communities both large and small. I am interested in how these connections are made and the potential creative writing has to express thought, feelings, opinions, and ideas in a community. I am also interested in how culture and language are expressed in writing. I am particularly interested in creative nonfiction, including the personal essay, travel writing, literary journalism, and memoir.

I am currently working on a manuscript of personal essays that explore the intersection and over-lapping of different cultures in defining the American experience.

Find Select Publications and Abstracts Here

Yuko Taniguchi, M.F.A.
Senior Teaching Specialist, CLI

Speciality: Writing

Phone: 1 507-258-8026
Fax: (507) 258-8066
Office: Paine
Email: tani0013@umn.edu

Education
M.F.A., Creative Writing, University of Minnesota, 2001
B.A. English, The College of St. Benedict/St. John’s University, 1998

“I am constantly seeking and exploring new and creative ways to establish a respectful and tolerant learning environment for students.”

Background
As an educator of language and writing, my experience includes teaching literature and creative writing for undergraduates and graduates at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, Rochester Community and Technical College and Hamline University. The integrated curriculums at the BSHS program at the UMR include many writing projects. I teach Writing Studio course and direct the Writing Center to assist students with writing needs. My focus is to help students become more proficient in all writing forms required in their coursework here and in future on-the-job requirements.

Teaching
My approach to teaching writing has always been open, enthusiastic, and innovative. I am constantly seeking and exploring new and creative ways to establish a respectful and tolerant learning environment for students. I design a variety of assignments and activities that not only require students to understand materials both critically and divergently, and also inspire them to appreciate new subjects and writing styles. I have incorporated various disciplines such as medicine, science, visual art, music, dance, and film into my course work. The exploration of multiple disciplines helps students to identify the connection between writing and the world in which they live and realize the role of writing as a powerful form of communication. My teaching emphasizes how growth in writing requires our curiosity, attention, observation, and thinking.

Research
I am interested in how creative writing is used by medical specialists, patients and caregivers to capture medical experience. Currently, I am involved in the Creative Renewal Series, co-sponsored by the Center for Humanities in Medicine and Cancer Education Center at Mayo Foundation in Rochester, Minnesota. I conduct creative writing workshops for the staff, medical specialists, patients, and their families. Through this program, I witness first-hand the importance of language and its power to express, communicate, and heal. I continue to study the role of narrative in the medical world, through literary and philosophical analysis on medical narrative.

I am also completing a second collection of poetry, Dancing with an American, and a novel, A Widow’s Tango.

Find Publications Here

 

UMR students work together on computers in the library

Student Outcomes

Knowledge in the Health Sciences
UMR students will acquire knowledge to provide a substantive foundation for advanced learning in the health sciences and related disciplines, including humanities, biological science, historical perspective, literature, mathematical thinking, physical science and the social sciences.

Intellectual and Practical Skills
UMR students will demonstrate progressively advanced competence in the intellectual and practical skills related to oral and written communication, independence, interdependence and reasoning, including scientific inquiry, quantitative literacy, information literacy and problem-solving.

Self Regulation
UMR students will develop and implement practices associated with self-monitoring, goal orientation, academic discipline, determination, accountability and responsibility. In addition, students will develop the ability to evaluate and modify reactions and behaviors in order to work under conditions of uncertainty and facilitate introspection and resilience.

Social Engagement
UMR students will apply an understanding of multiple perspectives, experiences and social structures to interact with people from diverse backgrounds and recognize local and global challenges.