CTL Graduate Fellowship for Teaching Excellence

CTL’s Graduate Fellowship for Teaching Excellence program honors graduate students who are dedicated to excellent teaching and is designed to foster conversations about teaching to help graduate students develop as teachers. Graduate Fellows organize and facilitate teaching workshops in their departments and across the university, observe graduate students teaching and offer feedback, and meet regularly as a fellows group to discuss teaching practices.

Candidates for this fellowship must be nominated by their department; the call for nominations goes out to graduate chairs in the spring semester. For more information about the Graduate Fellows Program contact Bruce Lenthall.


Sonia Bansal

Sonia Bansal is a graduate student in the Bioengineering Graduate Group and works in the Mauck Lab. Her work focuses on the biomechanics and remodeling of meniscal injury and osteoarthritis. She received her Bachelor's of Science degree in Biomedical Engineering from Columbia University in 2014. At Penn, Sonia has TAed extensively for the Bioengineering department, including BE 200 (Introduction to Biomechanics), BE 567 (Mathematical Computation Methods of Modeling Biological Systems), BE 561 (Musculoskeletal Biology and Bioengineering), BE 550 (Continuum Tissue Mechanics), and BE 512 (Bioengineering III - Biomaterials). She is interested in the ways in which active and tactile learning impacts STEM education.

Emilie Benson

Emilie Benson is a fourth-year PhD student in the Physics department. Her research focuses on the use of diffuse optics in biomedical applications. Emilie received her B.A. from Gustavus Adolphus College, double majoring in Physics and Chemistry. While there she worked as a teaching assistant with the physics department for three years and taught at the observatory on campus. She has continued this interest in teaching while at Penn serving as a laboratory teaching assistant, with special emphasis on assisting with the development of the Case Study program.  Emilie received a departmental teaching award in 2017.

Irteza Binte-Farid 

Irteza Binte-Farid is a joint degree PhD student in Education and Anthropology, studying the experience of Muslim youth in Philadelphia high schools and religious spaces. She is particularly attuned to scholarship at the intersection of education, religion, and race. Irteza is also interested in the education of secondary history teachers and in particular how teacher education programs approach the teaching of history in culturally diverse classrooms that include Muslim students of color. She previously taught African American history in a neighborhood Philly public school.

Alexandra Brown
Romance Languages

Alexandra Brown is a third year PhD candidate in the Department of Romance Languages in the Hispanic Studies section. Her research focuses on exploring 20th and 21st century Latin American gothic, science fiction, and speculative literatures through a Marxist lens. Shes holds a Masters in Hispanic Literatures & Cultures from Boston College and a Masters in Hispanic Studies from the University of Pennsylvania. She first began teaching Elementary Spanish language acquisition courses while at Boston College and has had the opportunity to teach both Intermediate and Advanced Spanish at Penn. Recently, she has also begun to teach content-focused literature courses conducted in Spanish, exploring short stories, novels, and film with students. 

Rui Castro

Rui Castro is a doctoral candidate in the History and Theory of Architecture at the Stuart Weitzman School of Design. His research explores the history of architecture after World War II, and its intersection with politics, the visual, performance, and screen arts. He is completing a dissertation entitled "Transgressive Transparency: Dan Graham, Art/Architecture, and the Public in the Long 1970s." He was awarded the Grant for Doctoral Studies from the Portuguese Ministry of Education Science and Technology Foundation, the Canadian Center for Architecture Collection Research Grant, and the Salvatori Award from the University of Pennsylvania Center for Italian Studies. He holds a Masters in Planning and Design of the Urban Environment from the University of Porto (Magna Cum Laude), and an Advanced Studies Diploma (D.E.A.) in Architecture from Madrid Polytechnic University. He taught Design Studio at U.L. Porto, at the Madrid Polytechnic University, and U.C.J.C. Madrid. At the University of Pennsylvania, Rui has been a Teaching Fellow in History and Theory of Architecture courses for students in the Masters of Architecture program, and a guest critic in Studio Reviews.

Joseph Cooke
Mechanical Engineering & Applied Mechanics

Joseph Cooke is a PhD Candidate in the Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics Department. His current research focus includes thermal energy transport in bulk magnetic materials using Spin-Lattice Dynamic simulations. Joseph was a teaching assistant for Heat and Mass Transfer for two semesters and for Introduction to Mechanics Laboratory for two semesters. He received the Outstanding Teaching in MEAM award in the Fall of 2016 for his efforts in the Introduction to Mechanics Laboratory. Joseph has also completed his teaching certificate from the Center for Teaching and Learning. He received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Widener University in 2014.

McFeely Jackson Goodman

McFeely Jackson Goodman is a fifth year PhD student in the Mathematics Department.  He studies the geometry and topology of manifolds with positive curvature. He has been a teaching assistant in undergraduate calculus and graduate analysis, and a summer instructor in calculus.  He serves as a Master Teaching Assistant in the department, running TA training at the beginning of the year and performing observations and feedback sessions with new TAs. He has won several departmental Good Teaching Awards and the Moez Alimohamed Graduate Student Award for Distinguished Teaching in Mathematics.  He spent a year working for City Year New York training tutors who worked in public elementary, middle and high schools. He has a BA in Mathematics and Physics from Swarthmore College.

Erynn Johnson
Earth & Environmental Science

Erynn is a fifth-year PhD candidate and a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow in the Earth and Environmental Science Department. She received received her B.S. from the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Cornell University in 2015.  Erynn studies the ecology of ancient marine ecosystems by analyzing predator-prey interactions over geologic time. In addition to her research, she is dedicated to educating students about how science is conducted using earth science as a gateway, particularly those from outside of the STEM subjects. In 2018 and 2019 she worked as a TA Trainer at Penn.

Karren Knowlton

Karren is a fifth-year doctoral candidate in organizational behavior. Her research addresses questions related to employee identity, diversity, inter-group relations, and communication within organizations. Karren has taught activity-based recitation sections for Management 101, a required course for all Wharton undergraduates. She was also the Head TA for Management 101, coordinating seven other TAs throughout the semester. Karren has experience TAing several different MBA courses, both during her own MBA and here at Wharton, including topics such as leadership, teamwork, operations, and decision making. Karren also tutors undergraduate students interested in organizational behavior research.

Erica Lawrence

Erica Lawrence is a PhD candidate and National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow in the biology department. Her research focuses on how plant physiology changes during development and how these different developmental stages contribute to a plant’s ability to cope with environmental stress. Erica began teaching as a supplemental instructor for undergraduate biology courses while earning her BS at Saint Joseph’s University (SJU). She further gained experience teaching K-12 and undergraduate students during her time at SJU through her roles as a teaching assistant for upper level biology courses and as an instructor in multiple outreach programs. During her time at Penn, Erica has served as a TA and Laboratory Instructor for undergraduate biology courses, a Penn Summer Prep course instructor and developer and continues to serve as an instructor for outreach programs. 

Alexis Rider
History & Sociology of Science

Alexis Rider is a PhD Candidate in the History and Sociology of Science department. Her dissertation, “A Melting Fossil: Ice, Life, and Time in the Cryosphere, 1840-1970,” asks how ice, an ephemeral and ubiquitous substance, has been deployed by diverse scientific disciplines to understand geologic timescales. Alexis completed her MA at the New School for Social Research, and her BA in English Literature and Philosophy at Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand, which is where she is originally from. In 2018 she received the Penn Prize for Excellence in Teaching by Graduate Students.

Anna Leigh Todd

Anna Leigh Todd is a PhD candidate and Benjamin Franklin Fellow in the History Department. She received a Bachelor's degree in History from the University of Southern Mississippi and earned a Master's in History from the University of Connecticut. Anna's dissertation research concerns illegitimacy in early America, specifically regarding the relationship between cultural representation and lived experience. Drawing on legal, social, and cultural history, the project stems from her prior work on female sexual recidivism in early America and the methodologies of family history she cultivated as a researcher at the New England Historic Genealogical Society. At Penn, Anna has served as a grader and teaching assistant for courses addressing the intersecting themes of American law, culture, gender, race, and the body. Anna was selected as a participant for the National Humanities Center's 2019 Graduate Student Summer Residency, which focuses on the cultivation of pedagogical skills and content creation for humanities educators. She also worked as a TA Trainer at Penn in 2019.

Rachel Wise
History of Art

Rachel Wise is a doctoral candidate in the Department of History of Art. Her research focuses on the artistic response to the Dutch Revolt of Independence from Spain (1568-1609). In addition to serving as a teaching assistant for numerous art history classes, she has taught her own courses at the University of Pennsylvania: Northern Baroque Art and Introduction to Western Art. She has held two fellowships at the Philadelphia Museum Art and has also specialized in museum education. As a Spotlight Educator at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and as the Dr. Anton C.R. Dreesmann Fellow at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, she gave lectures and directed discussions in the galleries.

Naomi Zucker

Naomi Zucker is a fourth-year PhD candidate in Cultural Anthropology. Her research interests are situated at the intersections of medical anthropology, political anthropology, and science and technology studies, and she is currently developing an ethnographic project on carceral technologies and community corrections in Philadelphia. She earned her BA in Anthropology at Princeton University, where she also worked at the university Writing Center, led workshops and trainings on backcountry sustainability, and served as a GED tutor for incarcerated students in New Jersey prisons. At Penn, Naomi has been a teaching assistant for “Cultures of Science and Technology” and “The Modern World and its Cultural Background.”  She also worked as a TA Trainer in 2019.

Full list of Past CTL Graduate Fellows