David Achila is a sixth year Ph.D. candidate at the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular biology at Michigan State University. David is originally from Kenya where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry and Chemistry from Egerton University. He subsequently moved to Western Michgan University where he graduated with a Masters degree in Chemistry before joining Michigan State University. His dissertation research focuses on the molecular mechanisms of immune system evasion by pathogens. Other research activities he has participated in at Michigan State involved probing the function of small GTPases in ribosome biogenesis in gram positive bacteria. As a FAST fellow, he is interested in investigating the use of technology to enhance teacher-student interaction, improve students engagement and learning.
Nick Ballew is a fourth year Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Zoology and in the Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior Program at Michigan State University. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences from Louisiana State University. Nick’s dissertation research focuses on the ecological consequences of personality in largemouth bass. He seeks to understand how boldness and aggression impact reproductive success in non-fished bass populations and if the relationship between these behaviors and reproductive success is altered by fishing during the bass nesting season. As a FAST fellow, Nick is interested in learning new instructional techniques in the sciences and ways to assess student learning.
Wenning Feng is a third year Ph.D. student in the Department of Statistics and Probability at Michigan State University. He received his B.S. in Statistics from University of Science and Technology of China in 2008 and his M.S. in Statistics from Michigan State University in 2010. His research topics focus on the development of Statistical methodology of spatial data. During his Ph.D. study at Michigan State University, Wenning has two years’ experience in teaching, both in recitation and independently, for which he received a William L. Harkness Student Teaching Award from the Department of Statistics and Probability, and a half year’s experience in Consulting for statistical practices in the Center for Statistical Training and Consulting (CSTAT). Wenning’s teaching-as-research interest is to study the contribution of the application-driven method to the general statistical education of the introductory level for the undergraduate students, compared to the theory-driven method.
Emily Norton Henry is a fifth year Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, the Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior Program and the Environmental Science and Policy Program at Michigan State University. She earned a Bachelors of Science in Biology/Ecology at Purdue University. Prior to starting her doctoral studies at MSU, Emily worked for nearly three years for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. Her dissertation research focuses on the effects of shoreline development on Michigan inland lake biota, particularly the effects on movement and habitat use in two native turtle species. As a FAST fellow, Emily is interested in learning new instructional methods, assessment techniques, and ways to motivate students and improve student attitudes toward biology.
Jasmina Jakupovic is a fifth year Ph.D. student in the Neuroscience Program. She received her BA in Biology with Specialization in Neuroscience in 2007 from Boston University. Her research looks at the effects of probiotics on gut pain and motility with focus on an animal model of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. As part of the FAST Fellowship Program she would like to learn how to adapt her teaching methods to the needs of different students, class sizes, subjects and modes of delivery. In particular, she is interested in comparing the effectiveness of online learning to in-class learning.
LeighAnn Jordan is a third year graduate student in the Department of Chemistry. She received her B.S. in Biochemistry from Westminster College in New Wilmington Pennsylvania. Her research focuses on the characterization and analysis of mesenteric vessels from gastric-bypass patients. Her teaching as research project will focus on general chemistry recitations: how to improve these supplemental classes by analyzing worksheets, structure, material covered, TA presence and professor involvement. She hopes to not only become a professor but a mentor that inspires lifelong learners. Through teaching as research, she hopes to continue on her journey towards her career goals. A few of those goals are to show that chemistry is relevant to all majors, motivate even the most unlikely students, and teach for understanding.
Jennifer Rebecca Kelly studies environmental sociology focusing on the relationship that humans have with the living world. With an interdisciplinary background her scholarship and views on the nature society divide have embraced a holistic approach. As such, her interests have taken on an experiential dimension, that is, where nature and wildlife interface most vividly with humans. This is revealed in a broad range of areas including: perceptions of wildlife, the question of hunting, an individual’s encounter with the portrait of a wild animal, and the role of experiential education centered on the student immersion into a natural environment. Her time as a FAST fellow will involve assessing a Climate Change and Society course using a modified version of the How People Learn pedagogical model. She holds a BA in Communication and a MS in Environmental Science and Policy.
Amanda Malefyt is a fifth year Ph.D. student in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science with a research focus on biomolecular engineering of therapeutics. She received her bachelor's degree in Chemical Engineering from Tri-State (now Trine) University in Angola, IN. After working in the pharmaceutical industry for three years as a process engineer, she decided to return to school to pursue her Ph.D. with the final goal of teaching at a small, undergraduate focused college. Through the FAST program, Amanda hopes to develop methods for creating classroom environments in which students are continually motivated and engaged in applying new ideas toward solving current engineering challenges.
Lisa Rebenitsch is a third year Ph.D. student in computer science with a primary interest in virtual environments. She is interested in most aspects of virtual environments, but have particular interest in nontraditional interfaces to these systems. Traditional interfaces use 3D mice, head tracking, and keyboards. However, the interface channels she is considering are mostly based on human electrical signals such as the electrical activity in muscular movement. These interfaces can be conscious (e.g. typing or navigation) or unconscious (e.g. adjusting the interface in reference to stress/cybersickness levels). Her teaching interests lie in the effect of teaching methods on individual students within the class improvement as a whole in order to enhance the teaching method.
Mark Tran is a fourth year Ph.D. student in the Department of Zoology and the Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior program at Michigan State University. He received his Bachelors of Science in Biology at the State University of New York-Plattsburgh in 2008. His research interests are in the fields of Animal Behavior, Ecology, and Physiology. Mark’s dissertation research focuses on the use of chemical foraging cues by marine crustaceans with emphasis on the roles that physiology and ecology play in shaping which chemical cues are used by foraging animals to locate food resources. As a FAST fellow, he is interested in learning new methods of student assessment in the biological sciences, as well as researching the effectiveness of current assessment methods as part of his teaching-as-research project.
Chris Richardson is a fourth year Ph.D. student in Astrophysics at Michigan State University. He received his Bachelor of Science degrees in Physics and Applied Physics from Eastern Illinois University. He is currently performing plasma simulations in various astrophysical environments, in particular, the Crab Nebula and exotic objects known as Quasars. Aside from theoretical astrophysics, Chris is also interested in gender differences in physics and astronomy. In the classroom, he is interested in learning ways to keep advanced students challenged while simultaneously helping those who are falling behind.
*Participated in the CIRTL (Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning) Exchange Program.
Kathy Walsh is a fifth year Ph.D. student in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Michigan State University in the subfield of experimental condensed matter physics, and she is currently a fellow in the Interdisciplinary Training Program in Bioelectronics. She earned a B.S. in Physics from Wichita State University in Wichita, Kansas in 2007 and an M.S. in Physics from MSU in 2009. Her research is aimed at measuring electrical transport properties of protein nanowires expressed by Geobacter sulfurreducens, which is tied into a long-term research interest in (bio-)remediation of toxic wastes, particularly from defense-related sites. From a teaching perspective, she is interested in leveling the metaphorical playing field for under-prepared students in introductory physics classes and in teaching effectively in classroom settings which include both traditional and returning adult students.
Cameron Thomas Whitley grew up in Colorado and graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2005 with a degree in Sociology and a minor in Ethnic Studies. Between graduating in 2005 and entering MSU in the fall of 2009, Cameron spent time engaged in HIV/AIDS prevention and education in the Virgin Islands and working as a financial officer in New York City. Cameron’s past research has focused largely on the intersections of sex, gender and sexuality; however his current interests are in environmental sociology, specifically regarding social attitudes around climate change, water quality and conservation, social movements and the social and political positioning of animals for corporate gain. Cameron also has a passion for research related to teaching and learning. When not engaged in research or teaching, Cameron enjoys being outdoors, photography, daily yoga, exploratory creative writing, social activism, chai tea lattes, and traveling around the world with his wife and thirteen year old yorkie named Pal.