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2015-2016 Seminar Series

Dr. Jenn Weaver
Assistant Director of the CTLO, Caltech 
Tuesday, April 12, 2016
3:00 PM - 4:00 PM
Location: CTLO, Center for Student Services, Room 360

Teaching assistants are constantly juggling teaching, learning and research responsibilities. As with our research, we strive to be effective TAs within the many constraints on our time. This workshop is for both new and experienced TAs, and will address the best strategies to maximize efficiency, make a difference and have the biggest ‘bang for our buck’ when preparing for and fulfilling our teaching responsibilities.

Jennifer Weaver is the Assistant Director for Instructional Practice and Technology at Caltech’s Center for Teaching, Learning, and Outreach. She focuses on using active learning in the classroom, incorporating technology in teaching, and supporting Teaching Assistants on campus. Jenn is available for consultations with students and faculty on any teaching matter and can be reached at

Professor Laura Tucker, Assistant Teaching Professor of Physics at UCI
Wednesday, March 30, 2016
11:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Location: Noyes 147 (J. Holmes Sturdivant Lecture Hall)

A body of literature in physics education shows that students taught with interactive methods have higher gains in content knowledge and retention in STEM majors. While these results include data from a variety of classrooms, instructors, and student populations, and show very strong trends, results from individual classrooms can vary. We will discuss implementations of very similar classroom techniques by the same instructor, with similar student populations, but which resulted in surprisingly different student response.

Speaker Bio: Laura Tucker is an Assistant Teaching Professor of Physics at University of California, Irvine (UCI) and an education researcher with a focus on interactive classroom strategies, student retention, and educational technology. After earning both undergraduate and graduate degrees in physics, Laura transitioned into science education as a post-doc at Harvard University with Eric Mazur and Todd Zickler. Currently at UCI, she is scaling research-based teaching methods to larger class sizes and measuring success in students' content knowledge and shifts in attitudes towards science.


The Magic of Inquiry—from high school fundamentals to authentic research projects

Steven G. Sogo, Caltech MS in Chemistry 1989, Laguna Beach High School

Wednesday, February 17, 2016
11:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Location: Noyes 147

In this talk, Steve Sogo, winner of the NSTA 2013 Frey Scientific Award for Excellence in Inquiry-based Science Teaching, will present his methods for introducing high school students to the joys of scientific inquiry.  After receiving an MS in Chemistry from Caltech in 1989, Sogo has enjoyed a 25-year career teaching chemistry in public and private high schools.  For the past 15-years, he has been teaching at Laguna Beach High School, where he has developed the award-winning Advanced Chemical Research program (ACR).  ACR engages 20-24 students each year in authentic bioorganic research projects using in-house instrumentation, such as UV/Vis spectroscopy, HPLC, and SDS-PAGE, as well as UC Irvine’s NMR and Mass Spectrometry facilities.  This talk will present teaching methods that are effective with students of a wide variety of abilities, from those who are muddled by moles to those who will become PhD chemists.

From Graduate School at Caltech to Juggling Research and Teaching at UCLA

CPET Seminar with Professor Neil Garg

11:00 AM Monday, November 30th, Noyes 147

In this presentation, Professor Garg will discuss the transition from being a Caltech Graduate Student (PhD, 2005, Stoltz Group) to launching his independent career at UCLA.  His seminar will pay special attention to striking a balance between research and teaching under the fierce pressures of the tenure system.  He will also describe simple exercises that have made his organic chemistry course one of the most popular classes on the UCLA campus.

Professor Garg was recently recognized as the 2015 California Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. He has also received the UCLA Gold Shield Faculty Prize (2015), the Eby Award for the Art of Teaching (2014), the Professor of the Year Award (2013), and the UCLA Hanson–Dow Award for Excellence in Teaching (2011). He incorporates many innovative teaching techniques into his class, including interactive online tutorials and extra credit video assignments. He strives to make the sometimes abstract concepts of organic chemistry relevant to the lives of his students. 

A Discussion with Caltech Humanities Professors Kevin Gilmartin, Warren Brown, Jennifer Jahner, and Morgan Kousser

Wednesday, October 21, 2015, 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM, Keck Center

Join 2015 Feynman Prize recipient, Professor Kevin Gilmartin, along with Humanities faculty, Professors Warren Brown, Morgan Kousser, and Jennifer Jahner, for a lively discussion about getting students interested in studying subjects and ways of thinking that take them well beyond their known interests and passions. In Caltech's science-focused environment, teaching in the Humanities offers all of us relevant lessons in facing varied student backgrounds, sparking novel and critical analysis in classes, and supporting students to leave their comfort zone behind for new and deep learning. Facilitated by CTLO Director, Dr. Cassandra Horii.