Dr. Johanna L. Gutlerner

Associate Director of the Curriculum Fellows Program
Instructor, Department of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology
Harvard Medical School
B.S., Biology (Neurobiology concentration), Cornell University
Ph.D., Neurobiology, Duke University Medical Center

E-mail:   johanna_gutlerner <at> hms <dot> harvard <dot> edu

Dr. Johanna Gutlerner has always been intrigued by how emotions are learned and how they affect learning. As a Ph.D. student, she characterized the mechanism of a new form of synaptic plasticity at excitatory synapses on dopamine cells in part of the brain critical for processing reinforcing stimuli. This work led to a curiosity about how people learn and more specifically, how positive personal interactions, mentoring, and coaching affect learning. Therefore, she was eager to begin teaching and took a job teaching Natural Sciences to freshmen in the Boston University College of Arts and Sciences’ Core Curriculum. This job gave Johanna an opportunity to learn and teach science outside of her own expertise. She also advised freshman to help them adapt to the college experience. She was able to interact with students individually in the classroom, but especially in the laboratory. These experiences made Johanna enthusiastic about continuing to try to research the impact of these individual teaching relationships on student learning. However, she realized that she had a lot to learn about how educational scholarship is conducted. She joined the Harvard Medical School’s Curriculum Fellows Program to learn more about curriculum development and educational scholarship. Johanna quickly discovered that there were many other Ph.D. scientists interested in making the transition to careers in teaching, science education research, and higher education administration. Thus, at HMS, she has worked to develop a program that trains scientists in these domains. Curriculum Fellows collaborate with HMS faculty course directors to help manage courses, develop curriculum, and devise strategies to increase and assess student learning. Like postdoctoral fellows in a traditional research laboratory, the CFs glean insights from the current literature in science education to bring researched interventions to the HMS graduate and medical classrooms. As Associate Director of the Curriculum Fellows Program (CFP), one of Johanna’s primary roles is to mentor and advise the fellows, helping them develop their research projects and observing their teaching to provide the critical feedback necessary for their development as educators. She has also helped develop several CF-led courses on mentoring and teaching for graduate students and postdocs. Now Johanna has an opportunity to apply her interests in the role of personal relationships in teaching to the development of a new generation of educators among the CFs, graduate students, and postdoctoral trainees at HMS.

Related websites:

Harvard Medical School’s Curriculum Fellows Program
URL: http://curriculumfellows.hms.harvard.edu/

Selected publications:

Gutlerner, JL (2009) Reforming Graduate Science Education: Start in the Classroom. Expositions: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities, 3:2, 149-154.

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