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CASTLE Launches Faculty Fellows Program

by Meredith Casino, July 6, 2020

The Center for the Advancement of STEM Teaching and Learning Excellence (CASTLE) is piloting a new initiative funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI)  Sustaining Excellence Program at Drexel University. A main focus of the HHMI grant is to improve retention of STEM undergraduates by incentivizing STEM faculty to develop evidence-based education competencies through community building, mentored support activities and recognition of innovative teaching. Initiatives have included a one-term peer-taught faculty course focused on improving STEM education, an award for evidence-based teaching practices and various professional development events and resources aimed to provide Drexel faculty and staff with an opportunity to learn about and discuss effective teaching practices. The CASTLE Faculty Fellows program is the latest initiative designed to provide STEM faculty members with mentored support, in this case, to address the unique challenges of remote teaching during the Covid-19 pandemic. This program builds off of work done by CASTLE’s first Faculty Fellow, N. John DiNardo, who has supported various faculty- and student-centered initiatives in his over two-year tenure.

CASTLE has selected faculty who have experience with remote/online instruction and teaching undergraduate STEM courses from across distinct STEM disciplines to serve as Faculty Fellows for the Summer 2020 term. These Fellows will engage in community building activities towards supporting other Drexel faculty who teach undergraduate STEM courses, especially in implementing effective online/remote learning experiences. This support will come in the form of “just-in-time” interactions with Drexel faculty to answer questions and/or serve as a sounding board regarding the implementation of new teaching techniques. CASTLE Faculty Fellows are accessible via a website ( where faculty members can “Ask a Fellow” to directly ask a question or request advice about an approach they would like to try in their classroom. As part of the program, each Faculty Fellow is developing resources or interventions to promote effective STEM teaching and learning at Drexel relating to a topic area of their choosing.  These resources will be shared out as part of CASTLE’s online resources. The CASTLE website contains links to other helpful resources to support STEM teaching and learning, including active learning teaching topics and resources to assist students and faculty with the transition to remote teaching and learning.

To engage in and support the community of STEM educators at Drexel, Faculty Fellows will coordinate and participate in a virtual version of the CASTLE Pedagogical Happy Hour. As part of the professional development events funded by HHMI, CASTLE typically runs monthly in-person Pedagogical Happy Hours during the academic year, which feature faculty members who highlight an effective teaching strategy utilized in their classroom, laboratory, or educational program. During the Summer 2020 term, CASTLE Faculty Fellows will host a weekly virtual version of the Pedagogical Happy Hour to infuse additional expertise into these events that support the community.  This series will have a special focus on remote teaching resources and ideas.

CASTLE has selected six full-time Drexel faculty members to serve as Faculty Fellows for the Summer 2020 term: Meshagae Hunte-Brown (Teaching Professor, Department of Biology); Jeremy Johnson (Professor and Department Head, Department of Computer Science); Christina Love (Associate Teaching Professor, Department of Physics); James Mitchell (Professor, Department of Civil, Architectural & Environmental Engineering); Dimitri Papadopoulos (Assistant Teaching Professor, Department of Mathematics); Steven Weber (Professor and Department Head, Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering).  Each of these faculty members was selected due to their significant expertise relating to remote or online instruction in undergraduate STEM education. The CASTLE Faculty Fellows Program has oversight by the CASTLE Staff and Administration, led by Co-Director Jennifer Stanford.

Through the CASTLE Faculty Fellows Program, CASTLE endeavors to assist the Drexel community in promoting teaching excellence to foster student learning and to ensure high value learning experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic.  For more information on the Faculty Fellows and other CASTLE resources and events, please visit