April 25, 2011

Glennan Fellows Present Engaging, Original Approaches to Learning

From tissue engineering to musicology, the topics of the Glennan Fellows program are varied, but all share a common thread: innovative ideas from promising faculty. The projects, which were awarded to five tenure-track faculty members in 2010, will be presented April 27 from noon to 1:30 p.m. in the Herrick Room in the Allen Memorial Medical Library building.

The 2010-11 Glennan Fellows are Eben Alsberg, assistant professor of biomedical engineering and orthopedic surgery; Francesca Brittan, assistant professor of music; Xuan Gao, assistant professor of physics; LaShanda Korley, Nord Distinguished Assistant Professor of macromolecular science and engineering; and Peter Thomas, assistant professor of mathematics, biology and cognitive science.

Eben Alsberg
Eben Alsberg

Alsberg’s project, “A Hands-on Experience in Tissue Engineering,” proposes incorporating a tissue engineering laboratory module into the lecture-based undergraduate capstone class. Currently in the class, Alsberg said, students build on the fundamentals but can’t gain the full appreciation of the field without the lab module, no matter how interactive the lectures attempt to be. “Such exposure may help to foster a true passion for the field, which may be difficult to achieve in the classroom alone,” he explained.




Francesca Brittan
Francesca Brittan

Brittan’s presentation will discuss her new course—Music, Magic and the History of Science—in which she shows historical intersections among music, math, astronomy and more, from the Renaissance to the late-nineteenth century. “This project appealed to me because it brings together two of CWRU’s and University Circle’s most obvious strengths—music and science—and also because it encourages students from both sides of Euclid Avenue to meet in the classroom,” she said. “Equally important, it demonstrates that the arts and sciences have an important shared history.”


Xuan Gao
Xuan Gao

For Gao, the Glennan Fellowship allowed him to incorporate computer simulations and animations into lectures in Introduction to Modern Physics, a sophomore-level course. “Modern physics covers many abstract concepts or phenomena in quantum physics that are difficult to grasp. I thought using computer simulations and animations in this course would be a great way to help students understand what’s going on,” he explained. His presentation, “Virtual Laboratory in Modern Physics: An Interactive Learning Experience,” will show how these simulations are integrated into a conventional syllabus and the benefit they have on students’ learning experiences.



LaShanda Korley
LaShanda T. Korley

Yet another interactive approach comes with Korley’s macromolecular science program, Hands-on Approach to Green Chemistry and Engineering. “This project was inspired by a desire to connect fundamental understanding of green chemistry and engineering principles to real-world, hands-on application of green technology,” Korley said. “My goal was to motivate a new generation of scientists and engineers to promote sustainability and innovate with green principles in mind.” To do this, she developed a modular course, Polymers Plus Green Chemistry and Engineering, which incorporates a guided inquiry, laboratory components and community interactions in green technology.


Peter Thomas
Peter Thomas

Finally, keeping with the theme of hands-on learning, Thomas used the Glennan Fellowship to modify his course, Applied Probability and Stochastic Processes for Biology, and incorporate interactive exercises. “Recently, there has been a surge of interest in new ideas and new tools at the interface between cell biology and probability theory, especially the theory of ‘stochastic processes,’” Thomas explained. “This theory helps one describe processes, such as the chemical reactions inside living cells, that fluctuate unpredictably over time.” To show this, he used a numerical simulation package to compute the behavior of model biochemical cells.

To learn more about their projects, attend the event April 27. Lunch will be provided at the event; to RSVP, email ucite@case.edu.

Posted by: Emily Mayock, April 25, 2011 08:21 AM | News Topics: Faculty

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