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BioTAP Scholars Cohort Page

BioTAP now has TWO cohorts of BioTAP Scholars!

Each cohort collaborates together over one year, including one face-to-face Research Development Session, to enact research projects that collect and analyze data about GTA teaching professional development. We have been truly honored to receive so many outstanding applications for the BioTAP Scholars program, and are excited to see that interest in this program extends across the US and into Canada! We will be selecting additional cohorts each year through 2020, so please keep your eyes open for future rounds of applications.

We are thrilled to announce Cohort 2!

  • Larry Bowman, Yale University
  • Ryan Coker, Florida State University
  • Melody Danley, University of Kentucky
  • Stephanie Gutzler, Georgia State University
  • Rachael Hannah, University of Alaska, Anchorage
  • Kaleb Heinrich, University of Mary Hardin-Baylor
  • Samantha Herrmann, Ohio State University
  • Amy Keagy, University of North Florida
  • Rachel Kennison, University of California, Los Angeles
  • Harini Krishnan, Florida State University
  • Shannon Mallison, Wake Forest University
  • Michelle Nugent, North Carolina State University
  • Cheryl Pinzone, University of Colorado, Boulder
  • Katherine Price, Dartmouth College
  • Joshua Reid, Middle Tennessee State University
  • Seema Rivera, Clarkson University
  • Erin Sanders, University of California, Los Angeles
  • Katrina Stewart, West Virginia University







Cohort 1 BioTAP Scholars:





Linda Fuselier (lcfuse01 at, University of Louisville

I am studying how Graduate Teaching Assistants understand knowledge construction and how this emerges in their classroom practice. Results from this project will be used to inform professional development seminars for GTAs in biology.

Christopher Trimby (trimby at, University of Delaware

The research question for my project is: Does the Teaching Fellows Program increase participant self-efficacy and adoption of scientific teaching practices? There is a new director of the Teaching Fellows Program, as I have taken a faculty position at a different institution, but we are collectively working on a slight variation on this original project idea. We are currently gathering some baseline data on program alumni, and will use this as a jumping off point for then addressing my original research question (as well as some additional topics).

Iglika Pavlova (ivpavlov at, University of North Carolina, Greensboro

As part of the NSF CUR Transformations Project to introduce undergraduate research in all levels of the curriculum, the work in our department has focused on carefully designing graduate TA training before any GTAs teach in the new labs we are developing for introductory biology. To support this reform, we are conducting a preliminary study of GTA readiness for inquiry teaching through a start/end of the year survey and interviews. This will serve not only to prepare our GTA training program, but also allow for faculty participation and buy-in.

Erica Szeyller (szeyller.1 at, Ohio State University

In the Center for Life Sciences Education at the Ohio State University, each of our teaching assistants (TAs) are required to take a 1 credit hour individualized teaching professional development each time they teach with us. My research project focuses on investigating how student-centered, active teaching approaches, and attitudes of TAs change with repeated participation in our teaching professional development course.

Amy Marion (amarion at , New Mexico State University


Alp Oran (aoran at, University of Ottawa

Some members of BioTAP have related anecdotally how faculty view teaching as less important and a distraction from research. My main research question for BioTAP addresses IF and to WHAT EXTENT faculty at the University of Ottawa support graduate student training in teaching and learning. I have worked in collaboration with the University of British Columbia to develop a large survey tool (available on Trellis) that my institution plans to customize before a late 2018/early 2019 faculty-wide rollout.

Erin Shortlidge (eshortlidge at, Portland State University

As a BioTAP Scholar Erin began a study investigating the perceptions of graduate students who teach course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs). Through this work her lab completed an interview study conducted with CURE GTAs nationwide that will serve as pilot data for a larger proposal on GTAs and CUREs.

Adam Chouinard (chouinard at, Oregon State University

I am an instructor at Oregon State University, and I have been developing new methods to directly assess how GTAs apply skills and knowledge from weekly teaching professional development (TPD) in their own teaching. To evaluate this, I am using a combination of pre- and post-term surveys, student evaluation data (of GTA-led labs), written GTA reflections, class capture videos (coded via LOPUS), reflective video statements, and (eventually) program exit interviews. The goal is to (1) assess the effectiveness of our departmental TPD program, but also (2) explore and communicate ways to integrate multiple approaches to evaluate the effectiveness of TPD for graduate students. (As an aside: I have found BioTAP extremely helpful to motivate and support me in undertaking this TPD research!)

Jeanetta Floyd (jholley2 at, Georgia State University


Michelle Serreyn (ac3042 at, Wayne State University

I started with an idea to use an on-line modular workshop format to deliver GTA TPD the summer prior to the fall term (and provide on-going support) to build a TPD learning community. After some bumps in the road, I am now working on building a team of GTAs and UGs to develop new introductory biology lab exercises. I will provide support and TPD for incoming lab instructors via an internal funding grant.

Nancy Abney (nabney at, University of Alabama, Birmingham

I’m looking at the development of graduate teaching assistants’ beliefs about teaching and learning, specifically comparing their teaching philosophy statements from their first semester through the completion of the CIRTL Associate certificate to see how their overall conceptualization of learning may change from a more teaching-centric or transactional model to a more learning-centric or constructivist model.

Star Lee (star.lee at, University of California, Riverside

I’m interested in learning more about how graduate students think about teaching and how their thinking changes as they progress through a graduate course on pedagogy. The course is designed to teach graduate students the fundamental concepts of pedagogy and how to engage students in the materials. The goal of this project is to evaluate the impact of graduate student participation in this course by analyzing in-class discussions, concept maps, and surveys

Kari Nelson (kari.nelson at, University of Nebraska Medical Center

The purpose of this study is to determine whether varying levels of GTA PD are associated with increased GTA knowledge, confidence, and incorporation of inquiry principles into practice.  At UNO, we are providing about 20 minutes of GTA professional development to our TAs per week; other institutions (Oregon State, The University of Delaware, and The University of Eastern Carolina) are providing varying levels of professional development.  At the end of the academic year, we will compare to one another.   We plan to use the findings to adjust our GTA professional development programs and to make recommendations to others.

Jeffrey Olimpo (jtolimpo at, University of Texas, El Paso

With support from the BioTAP network, Jeff initiated an exploratory study to investigate current professional development (PD) practices employed nationwide to prepare graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) to effectively facilitate course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs) in the biological sciences. In addition to identifying existent practices, he is particularly interested in understanding how PD opportunities are (dis)similar as a function of course structure, sub-discipline, and academic level (e.g., introductory vs. upper-division; majors vs. non-majors). Jeff welcomes collaborations with other scholars with similar research interests and would encourage those individuals to contact him at

Samiksha (Sami) Raut (sraut at, University of Alabama, Birmingham

As a part of the BioTAP fellowship, I am interested in determining the perceptions of Native and International Teaching assistants by undergraduates. We are currently piloting this study at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Heather Vance-Chalcraft (vancechalcrafth at, East Carolina University

I am comparing three different types of graduate student training experiences, in isolation and combination, to determine the impact on GTA knowledge of inquiry-based labs and student-centered learning, GTA self-efficacy, and GTA classroom practice. I have been using multiple surveys (ATI, STEM-GTA TSES, and Knowledge Survey) to assess GTA knowledge and self-efficacy before and after training. To determine the impact of the training on how the GTAs are actually teaching, I have been conducting at least two classroom observations of each GTA each semester using the Laboratory Observation Protocol for Undergraduate STEM (LOPUS).


We will keep the listserv up to date on Cohort activities, and we hope you are as excited as we are to see the research that emerges from this initiative!

**BioTAP Scholars Acknowledgement Statement: This research on GTA teaching professional development was conducted as part of the BioTAP Scholars program, a component of the Biology Teaching Assistant Project (BioTAP; NSF RCN-UBE grant #DBI-1247938).

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