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Innovative Teaching Fellows

Current Innovative Teaching Fellows

Matthew Nanes, Ph.D., Spring 2023Matthew Nanes

Matthew Nanes (Ph.D. Political Science, University of California San Diego) is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Saint Louis University. He teaches classes on international politics, including Politics of the Middle East and North Africa, and Authoritarian Politics. He also teaches courses on applied research methods. His research focuses on security provision in insecure settings. In his recent book, Policing for Peace: Institutions, Expectations, and Security in Divided Societies, Nanes studies the impacts of minority inclusion in the police in Iraq and Israel on crime prevention and counterinsurgency. He has also conducted research on community policing through a series of experiments with the Philippines National Police. 

For his Spring 2023 Learning Studio course, Nanes will revamp the political science research methods course. By breaking down instructional barriers between theory and practice, the course invites students to apply methods skills to real-world problems that interest them. Students will work in collaborative teams throughout the semester to gradually build and execute a research project on a topic of their choice. Along the way, they will build a toolbox of research skills that they can use in their own research or career pursuits. 

Heather Bednarek, Ph.D., Spring 2023

Srikanth Gururajan, Ph.D., Spring 2023

Upcoming Innovative Teaching Fellows

Lucy Cashion, M.F.A., Fall 2023Lucy Cashion

Lucy Cashion (M.F.A. Theatre, Columbia University in the City of New York) is an Associate Professor of Theatre and the Director of the Theatre & Dance Program in the Department of Fine and Performing Arts. At SLU she primarily teaches directing courses and regularly directs plays in the University’s theatrical Season. Professionally, she creates experimental adaptations of canonical works, often collaborating with several groups of people to devise theatrical productions. Her adaptation of Antigone (produced by Equally Represented Arts & SATE; August 2019) was a creative collaboration among SLU Theatre students, Prison Performing Arts participants at the Women’s Eastern Reception, Diagnostic, and Correctional Center, and professional, St. Louis theatre artists. Lucy is the Artistic Director of ERA and a guest director with PPA. Recently with ERA, she produced and directed the album SHE (2021), a radio play by Nancy Bell. Most recently with PPA, she directed Hag-Seed by Stacey Lents, adapted from Margaret Atwood’s novel by the same name, at the Northeastern Correctional Center. She currently directing Saint Joan of Arc for PPA at the W.E.R.D.C.C.

In Spring 2023, Lucy will design the course ‘Collaboration: Arts Incubator’ in the Learning Studio. In this course, students will collaborate to create writings, films, and performances that investigate large questions. These questions could be related to specific topics, such as an historical event, or broader phenomena, such as a fear of death. The course will challenge students to conduct these investigations together and within the parameters of an artistic form. The Learning Studio will facilitate turning the classroom into a laboratory for artistic creation and collaboration.

Sergey Toymentsev, Ph.D., Fall 2023 Sergey Toymentsev

Sergey Toymentsev (Ph.D. in Comparative Literature, Rutgers University) is an Assistant Professor of Russian at Saint Louis University in the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures. He teaches Russian courses at all levels as well as courses on Russian culture, literature, and film. His research interests include contemporary Russian culture, authoritarian regimes in the 21st century, post-totalitarian collective memory, and film-philosophy. His work has been published in Comparative Literature Studies, CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture, New Literary Observer, and Film International, among others. He is the editor of Refocus: The Films of Andrei Tarkovsky (Edinburgh University Press, 2021). 

In Fall 2023 he will teach an undergraduate course on Putin's idiocracy. This course will investigate how writers, philosophers, and filmmakers approach the phenomenon of stupidity in Russia and beyond throughout historical periods and how Putin’s regime epitomizes the triumph of stupidity and anti-intellectualism in Russia’s governance, foreign affairs, cultural and media politics. Given the interdisciplinary nature of the course that relies on the findings of political science, sociology, anthropology, philosophy, literary studies, film and media studies, the Learning Studio will provide students with a perfect learning environment to engage with the course’s diverse material.   

Recent Past Innovative Teaching Fellows

Sheri Anderson-Gutiérrez, Ph.D., Fall 2022   Sheri Anderson-Gutiérrez

Sheri Anderson-Gutiérrez is Assistant Professor of Spanish Applied Linguistics at Saint Louis University in the Deaprtment of Languages, Literatures and Cultures where she teaches courses such as: Second Language Teaching Methodology, Spanish in the U.S., History of the Spanish Language, and Introduction to Hispanic Linguistics as well as numerous Spanish language courses at all levels. Broadly, her research focuses on contexts of second language acquisition and individual differences of language learners, for example, looking at the factors that impact study abroad success and K-12 dual-immersion language programs. Currently she is involved in several research projects related to the assessment of intercultural competence and linguistic and social gains made by students through service learning projects in the community.

For her Spring 2019 Learning Studio course, she will be working with Assistant Professor of History Clair Gilbert, to design a co-taught course for both Spanish and History students. This course will be an interdisciplinary exploration of the history of linguistics in Spain from the Roman period to the Renaissance. Through this course students will gain direct experience with methodologies from diverse fields of study which will enable them to critically analyze primary sources from Spanish history in context and by their linguistic features.

Claire Gilbert, Ph.D., Fall 2022  Claire Gilbert

Claire Gilbert (Ph.D., UCLA 2014) is Assistant Professor in the Department of History. Her research interests include early modern Spain and the Maghreb, Mediterranean studies, and the Social History of Language and Translation. She has published several peer-reviewed articles on these topics in international journals and has just completed a book, In Good Faith: Arabic Translation and Translators in Early Modern Spain, forthcoming in 2020 with University of Pennsylvania Press. Her research has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Social Science Research Council, the Fulbright Commission. Over the past seven years she has taught undergraduate courses in Spanish, Islamic, Mediterranean, and World History and graduate classes which focus on European and Transregional topics in early modern history.

For her Spring 2020 Learning Studio Course, she will collaborate with Assistant Professor of Spanish, Sheri Anderson-Gutiérrez, to design a co-taught course of both Spanish and History students. This course will be an interdisciplinary exploration of the history of Linguistics in Spain from the Roman Period to the Renaissance. Through this course, students will gain direct experience with methodologies from diverse fields of study which will enable them to critically analyze primary sources from Spanish history in context and according to their linguistic features.

Christina Garcia, Ph.D., Fall 2021Christina Garcia

Christina García (Ph.D. Hispanic Linguistics, The Ohio State University) is an Assistant Professor of Spanish and Linguistics at Saint Louis University in the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures. She teaches Spanish courses at all levels with a particular focus on Spanish pronunciation, Sociolinguistics, and Medical Spanish. Her research interests include phonetic variation of the Spanish-speaking world, sociophonetic perception, and L2 pronunciation acquisition. She has done fieldwork in Ecuador and Argentina, examining how sounds are socially meaningful and contribute to the formation of regional identities, and her research on L2 pronunciation harnesses technological tools to provide diverse types of pronunciation feedback to learners. Her work has been published in journals such as Language Variation and Change, Studies in Hispanic and Lusophone Linguistics, and Spanish in Context.

In Spring 2021, she will teach a re-designed version of Spanish for the Health Professions in the Learning Studio. This service learning course is targeted to Spanish majors and minors who are also majoring in a health-related field. In the class, topics such as health barriers and disparities, cultural views of health and wellness, health literacy, and indigenous and traditional medicine are discussed, and students engage in interpretation simulations and other hands on activities. Outside of the classroom, students are paired with a Latino-serving community organization and put their language skills to practice while learning more about our community and getting a glimpse of what it is like to be an immigrant in St. Louis.

David Letscher, Ph.D. David Letscher, Ph.D.

David Letscher (Ph.D. in Mathematics from the University of Michigan 1997) is a Professor in the Computer Science Department. His research interests include computational topology, shape analysis and topological data analysis. His research has been supported by multiple NSF grants. In addition to this research, he a co-authored a textbook and a number of papers in computer science pedagogy. Since joining SLU he has taught a wide range of courses. Recently, these courses include artificial intelligence, computer ethics, introduction to object-oriented programming and data structures.

In Spring 2020, Dr. Letscher will be teaching a Data Structures course that is required of all Computer Science majors and minors. This course is typically taken in the second year and focused on how information is stored in computers and how it is implemented. The new design for the course will integrate hands on a conceptual design with online tools to aid the students in implementation these design in the C++ programming language.

Kate Holdener, Ph.D., Fall 2020  Kate Holdner

Kate Holdener (Ph.D., Computer Science, Missouri University of Science and Technology) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science. She teaches a variety of courses, and her primary focus is on teaching software engineering skills of various levels to graduate and undergraduate students. Her research interests include automation of software engineering processes and application of evolutionary algorithms to software engineering. Before joining SLU, Dr. Holdener worked in industry for ten years, at Exegy, Inc in various roles such as Software Engineer, Senior API Engineering, and Product Manager. It’s been her goal to bring her practical experience into her classroom.

In the Fall of 2020, Dr. Holdener will teach her course on Software Architecture, re-designed for the Learning Studio. This course teaches traditional and modern approaches on structuring software components to create quality software. The newly re-designed course will be based on software architecture case studies, which the students will perform in the Learning Studio. Outside of the Learning Studio, students will do independent reading and prepare questions to be discussed during meeting times.

Click here to see a full list of all former Innovative Teaching Fellows