People

Mary-Ann WinkelmesMary-Ann Winkelmes, Ph.D., Executive Director

Mary-Ann Winkelmes is the executive director of the Center for Teaching and Learning, where her aim is to promote teaching and learning initiatives, student success, faculty development, and instructional research across the University’s academic and service units.

Winkelmes has held senior leadership roles in the campus teaching centers at Harvard University, the University of Chicago, the University of Illinois and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and has offered instruction as a member of history and art history departments at most of those institutions. She has consulted and provided professional development programming for faculty through the Lilly Endowment’s higher education grant-making and teacher-training programs, and for teaching centers in the US and abroad. She has also served as a senior fellow of the Association of American Colleges & Universities, an executive board member of Nevada Humanities and as an elected member of the Board of Directors of the Professional Development Network in Higher Education (POD), and Chair of its Research Committee.

Her work to improve higher education learning and teaching, especially for historically underserved students, has been recognized nationally by the Chronicle of Higher Education and with the POD Network’s Robert J. Menges Award for Outstanding Research in Educational Development. She founded and directs the Transparency in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education Project (TILT Higher Ed), which promotes direct conversation between teachers and students about methods of teaching and learning and helps faculty to share data on students’ learning across institutions and countries. The impact of this project on students’ learning has been the focus of publications in the National Teaching and Learning Forum, Project Information Literacy, the National Education Association’s Higher Education Advocate, and AAC&U’s Liberal Education and Peer Review, as well as the 2019 book, Transparent Design in Higher Education Teaching and Leadership.

Winkelmes advocates her view that research, teaching, and learning are best practiced as a unified enterprise that benefits students and society in An Illinois Sampler: Teaching and Research on the Prairie. Winkelmes has also published book chapters and peer-reviewed articles on college teaching and learning and on the history of art and architecture in Renaissance Italy, Benedictine church design and decoration, acoustics, and religious architecture. She has received numerous teaching awards as well as grants for her art historical research from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Kress, Delmas, and Mellon foundations.

Winkelmes holds a PhD from Harvard University.

Dan Perlman, Ph.D., Director; Associate Provost for Innovation in Education; Professor of Biology

Dan Perlman

Having received a Ph.D. from a department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, I continue to study and teach broadly in that area. I currently teach courses in Evolutionary Ecology, Conservation Biology, Animal Behavior, Field Biology, and Tropical Ecology and have researched and written in all these fields. My particular focus has been on the evolution of ant behavior and creating new method for setting priorities in the practice of conservation biology.

I am deeply interested in developing new and effective methods for teaching about ecology, conservation biology, and the environment. Working with my mentor and colleague E.O. Wilson of Harvard, a team of my former students and I created an interactive electronic textbook that has been used throughout the U.S. and in many other nations for teaching about conservation biology and environmental issues more broadly (Conserving Earth's Biodiversity CD-ROM, 2000, Island Press). I have recently been building on that experience in creating EcoLibrary, an online facility that allows teachers, students, and non-profit organizations to download top-quality images and text that are intended to help improve public understanding of the world in which we live. I am in the process of expanding EcoLibrary, adding materials such as maps, lesson plans, and interactive exercises.

My recent work also focuses on helping ecologists and conservation biologists work with land use planning and design professionals to improve land use — both for humans and natural ecosystems. I have furthered this work through workshops and lectures for professionals and publications such as Practical Ecology for Planners, Developers, and Citizens (2005, Island Press).

As part of my teaching at Brandeis, I have developed a number of innovative course assignments and exercises. In my courses I attempt to help students become expert on a given topic that helps them integrate the material of the course, while requiring them to learn skills that will be relevant throughout their lives. For example, in my Evolutionary Ecology course, each student researches one organism in depth throughout the semester, reading articles in the scientific literature and writing reviews of the studies that the class reads and discusses, while in Field Biology students research specific groups of organisms and create electronic field guides to these groups (see www.bio.brandeis.edu/fieldbio for examples). Similarly, in Conservation Biology each student researches a single ecological region, preparing three reports on the ecoregion's biodiversity, threats to that biodiversity, and responses to those threats — and after receiving extensive feedback on each report, the student creates a very effective 50-page conservation document on the ecoregion.