Seminar Archive: Professor Catherine Drennan

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Professor Catherine Drennan

Topic: Strategies for teaching in classrooms with ever increasing diversity

Seminar Date & Time: Thursday, November 10, 2011 @ 2:00 pm

Location: Whitehead Institute Auditorium

Professor Catherine Drennan is a Professor of Chemistry and Biology at MIT. She is currently an Investigator and a Professor of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). In 2006, Professor Drennan was awarded an HHMI Professorship to fund a proposal entitled “Getting Biologists Excited about Chemistry,” which focuses on increasing the interdisciplinary crosstalk between biology and chemistry. One of the aims of the HHMI initiative is to enhance the freshmen Chemistry course at MIT (5.111) by incorporating biological examples into the course. Under this initiative, Professor Drennan, along with Dr. Elizabeth Taylor, created over 30 succinct (2-5 minutes) modular in-class examples for MIT’s introductory chemistry course (5.111) that relate basic chemistry concepts covered in general chemistry to biology topics. The goal of these examples is to increase students’ interest in chemistry and illustrate how chemistry plays a fundamental role in everyday biology. In addition, Professor Drennan developed an undergraduate biochemistry association to support MIT undergraduates with interests in both biology and chemistry. Professor Drennan has also been involved in developing and conducting an expanded TA training program for incoming chemistry graduate student TAs at MIT. This 20-hour TA training program focuses on creating a supportive teaching environment and increasing TAs’ ability to lead successful recitation sections. The program has had incredible success in the quality of undergraduate chemistry education and is now a department-wide program, with plans to provide online instructions for nationwide dissemination.