Carnegie Mellon University

Eberly Center

Teaching Excellence & Educational Innovation

2009 Wimmer Faculty Fellows

We are pleased to announce the 2009 Wimmer Faculty Fellows. These fellowships are made possible by a grant from the Wimmer Family Foundation and are designed for junior faculty members interested in enhancing their teaching through concentrated work designing or re-designing a course, innovating new materials, or exploring a new pedagogical approach. Fellows work in close collaboration with Eberly Center teaching consultants and receive a stipend to acknowledge the work it takes to improve one's effectiveness as an educator. 


Subha Das is an assistant professor in chemistry. For his Wimmer project, he is developing two chemistry courses called “Kitchen Chemistry Sessions” in order to highlight how scientific principles permeate the everyday life of students and to enhance their knowledge of chemistry and the scientific method. In particular, Das is generating a series of unique demonstrations and laboratory experiments that culminate with students applying chemistry and biochemistry to adapt and develop novel recipes and food presentations. The first course for non-science majors draws on the accessibility of cooking to introduce and organize chemical principles and experimental methods of scientific inquiry, while the second course for science majors employs a cooking focus to reinforce, re-organize, and extend students’ knowledge of chemistry and biochemistry.


Byron Easley is an assistant professor in the School of Drama. His goal for the Wimmer project is to create a set of 6 one-hour digital films documenting master classes and interviews with legendary Broadway choreographers. The films, which will illustrate different Broadway styles and techniques and highlight aspects of artistic process and professional practice, will provide an invaluable resource for students and instructors across the School of Drama.


Gabrielle Eichmanns is an assistant professor in the Department of Modern Languages. She plans to create a guidebook for instructors based on a course she has developed entitled “Germany in the Age of Globalization.” She will use the opportunity provided by the Wimmer grant to collect relevant teaching
materials while she is in Germany this summer; to work with Eberly Center consultants to design a set of stimulating in-class activities and assignments as she refines the structure of the course; and to develop instructional materials that will help other instructors teaching about globalization.


Matthew Gray is an assistant professor in the School of Drama. His Wimmer project involves developing a performance rubric that will be used to evaluate and provide constructive feedback to students in the acting program. The rubric will specify a set of expectations for these students, not only regarding the quality of their final performances but also regarding their level of preparation at different stages in rehearsal and their collaborative efforts throughout the process. Identifying and articulating these criteria effectively so that the rubric communicates clearly to students and fosters fairer evaluation is just the first step. Matt will also collect data from past and present students as well as from his faculty colleagues in order to refine this rubric for broader use across the drama program.


Dana Mihai is an assistant teaching professor in mathematics. For her Wimmer project, she is refining a mathematics course, Multivariate Analysis, to motivate deeper and more meaningful learning of the mathematical concepts and analytical skills necessary for solving important problems arising across disciplines, from engineering to economics. In particular, she is revising learning objectives and developing new instructional activities that highlight real world applications of multivariate analytical skills in order to provide students with incentives and opportunities to practice applying these important skills.


David Ricketts is an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering. For his Wimmer project, he is designing computer-based simulations and interactive activities to help students gain a qualitative understanding of traditionally difficult concepts, such as electric field. Using these instructional tools, students will be able to interact with the concepts they are learning, and they will gain more practice at the key skills involved in translating between different ways of representing these concepts, e.g., from a visual representation of an electric field to its corresponding mathematical equation.


Naoko Taguchi is an assistant teaching professor in the Department of Modern Languages. For her Wimmer project, she is preparing materials for a new undergraduate course on the pragmatics of language. In this course, students will not focus on grammar and vocabulary but rather on the often unspoken rules of proper communication – such as how to speak politely or how to infer another person’s intention – that are critical to becoming a fully competent speaker of a second language. Students will engage in activities that expose pragmatic principles, and then they will use these principles and concepts to analyze everyday communication in their target language.


Ge Yang is an assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering and at the Lane Center for Computational Biology. His goal for the Wimmer fellowship is to design a new course that teaches modern biology material to engineering students in such a way that they are prepared to pursue further study in biomedical engineering. His course will steer away from a fact-based approach to teaching biology and will instead present the material according to a “systems biology” perspective that emphasizes how diverse components are integrated in various systems of the human body.