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September 26 Provost Lecture: Jo Handelsman

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handelsmanScientific Teaching: Launching a Revolution in Science Education

Jo Handelsman is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor in the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology at Yale University, where she also directs the Center for Scientific Teaching. Her research deals with microbial communities and their role in infectious disease, focusing in particular on the genetic basis for community stability, the role of a gut community as a source of opportunistic pathogens, and the soil microbial community as a source of new antibiotics and antibiotic resistance genes.

In addition to her research, Handelsman is nationally known for her efforts to improve science education and increase the participation of women and minorities in science at the university level. She wants faculty to approach teaching and mentoring with the same rigor, spirit of experimentation, and creativity that they bring to their research, by incorporating problem-solving and other active learning techniques and assessing their success.

She has received many awards for her scientific and educational work, including, most recently, the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring.

Abstract: The U.S. needs a more scientifically literate workforce. President Obama has made meeting this need one of his top domestic priorities, and academic scientists have a special responsibility to increase the body of outstanding students attracted to and retained in science majors. There is powerful evidence that many introductory college science courses drive away students who are quite able to be scientists but are bored by the way it is taught. To meet the nation’s needs for scientists, we must improve the introductory curriculum. This can be done through changes in content and using teaching methods that lead to more long-term learning and stimulate creative thinking. Handelsman will discuss “scientific teaching,” an evidence-based approach to science education, and describe training programs in the theory and practice of scientific teaching for graduate students, postdocs, and faculty.

This Provost Lecture will be held on Monday, September 26, at 4:00 pm in the Student Activities Center, Ballroom A.

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