National Institute on Scientific Teaching Executive Committee

Xinnian Chen


Xinnian Chen is a Professor-in-Residence in Physiology and Neurobiology at the University of Connecticut, where she teaches Anatomy and Physiology course to 350 biology majors and directs laboratories associated with the course. Her current research interests include understanding the mechanisms through which can increase students engagement in classrooms, and ways to promote institutional adoption of evidence-based teaching pedagogies.  Xinnian joined Scientific Teaching community in 2009, and since have served as a facilitator, speaker, and leader for both Regional and Mobile Summer Institutes (MoSI).  Those experiences, in addition to her participation in SI evaluation efforts, have led her to believe it is critical for NIST to continue providing accessible and effective training opportunities to faculty. It is equally important for NIST to continue supporting the local and national networks that facilitate communication and collaboration among individual participants and involving institutions.


Jennifer Frederick, founding Executive Director of the Yale Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning, received her B.A. in Chemistry from Cornell and her Ph.D. in Chemistry from Yale. Following faculty appointments at public and private Connecticut universities, Frederick returned to Yale in 2007 as Associate Director, Science Education Specialist in the graduate school. She assumed positions of increasing responsibility, including Director of the Center for Scientific Teaching, where she led the Summer Institutes on Scientific Teaching, a national effort to transform undergraduate STEM teaching. Since 2014, Frederick has directed a campus-wide teaching and learning center which includes SI Central operations. In addition to serving as a Northeast Regional Summer Institute leader, Frederick has been PI on multimillion-dollar grants from the Helmsley Charitable Trust and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. A teacher at heart, Frederick is committed to evidence-based, inclusive pedagogy as the cornerstone of her work on and off campus.


Melissa Michael

Melissa Michael is Associate Director for Curriculum & Instruction in the School of Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She founded, and leads, the School's Instructional Program which serves about 1800 majors.  A cell biologist, she primarily focuses on the continuing development of the School’s undergraduate curricula and MS in MCB degree program.  She is engaged in an array of projects aimed at improving instruction and assessment at the course and program levels. She has a long history with SI, is a member of the Mobile Summer Institute for Scientific Teaching (MoSI) Leadership Team, and led MoSIs at ShanghaiTech University during the summers of 2018 and 2019. She has been leading, or co-leading, Mobile SIs at an array of institutions, as well as my own, for a number of years.  She is a committed teacher and learner who seeks to share the wonder of biology with every student she encounters.


Kiki Zissimopoulos

Kiki Zissimopoulos is an Assistant Professor of Instruction and First-Year Adviser in the McCormick School of Engineering at Northwestern University (NU). She has a PhD in Biomedical Engineering from NU and has been teaching undergraduates for over 10 years in topics including science communication and engineering design. Previously she was Director for Initiatives in STEM Teaching and Learning at the University of Chicago’s Chicago Center for Teaching and an Instructional Developer at Purdue University’s Center for Instructional Excellence where she consulted on course design, collaborated on education research, and taught pedagogy courses and workshops. Dr. Zissimopoulos first became involved with the Summer Institutes on Scientific Teaching in 2016 as a regional facilitator, and has co-directed regional institutes at the Midwest and San Diego sites since then. She is thrilled to have found this community of individuals focused on STEM education and looks forward to contributing to the inaugural executive committee.


Mays Imad

Mays Imad is a neuroscientist and professor of Pathophysiology and Biomedical ethics at Pima Community College, the founding coordinator of the Teaching and Learning Center, and a Gardner Institute Fellow. Dr. Imad’s current research focuses on stress, self-awareness, advocacy, and classroom community, and how these relate to cognition, metacognition, and, ultimately, student learning and success. Through her teaching and research, she seeks to provide her students with transformative opportunities that are grounded in the aesthetics of learning, truth-seeking, and self-realization. She began participating in the Summer Institute in Summer of 2014 when she attended the Mountain West Summer Institute at the University of Colorado. She continued thereafter as a facilitator and later joined the Steering Committee in 2019. She was elected as a member at large for NIST in Summer of 2020.


Jenny Knight

Jenny Knight is an Associate Professor in the Molecular Cellular and Developmental Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder. She has a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of Michigan and postdoctoral training in developmental genetics. She transitioned to education research in 2004. She has been teaching undergraduates at all levels for twenty years, along with graduate courses in pedagogy. She coordinated the MCDB Science Education Initiative at CU for 7 years (2007-2014), ran the Mountain West Regional National Academies Summer Institute on Undergraduate Education in Biology for 5 years (2010-2015), and is now the president of the Society for the Advancement of Biology Education Research (SABER).

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Michelle Withers

Michelle Withers is an Associate Professor of Biology at Binghamton University and a STEM-Educator for the university's Center for Teaching and Learning. She participated in the first Summer Institutes (SI), 2004, then returned as a facilitator and workshop leader. She developed a regional offshoot of the original workshop and now leads the Mobile SI, a place-based iteration. She is the former Director of the National Academies Scientific Teaching Alliance, serves on the National Institute on Scientific Teaching Executive Committee, leads the NSF-funded network of national STEM education reform initiatives, NSITE, is an AAAS Partnership for Undergraduate Life Sciences Education (PULSE) Fellow and is a founding member of the Society for the Advancement of Biology Education Research (SABER). Dr. Withers is a co-author of the AAAS report Vision and Change in Undergraduate Biology: A Call to Action (2011) and Assessment In the College Science Classroom (2014), a book in the Scientific Teaching series on effective uses of assessment.


Steve Robinow

Steve Robinow is an Associate Dean of the College of Natural Sciences at California State University. He has a Ph.D. in Biology from Brandeis University and has run an externally funded research lab at the University of Hawaii for nearly two decades studying the role of nuclear receptors in the neural development of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. He is passionate about improving the teaching and learning of science to support the success of a more diverse population of students. He is involved in the Transforming STEM Teaching Faculty Program, a partnership with UC Berkley, and has won countless education and teaching awards.