Denise Leonard

 Denise Leonard

Assistant Director, Academic Services
Eads 111-C
(314) 935-6142

In September 2014, Denise was appointed Assistant Director of Academic Services at The Teaching Center. Previously, she worked as the HHMI postdoctoral fellow in science education, with a dual appointment in The Teaching Center and the Department of Biology at Washington University. 

As Assistant Director of Academic Services, Denise is working with her colleagues at The Teaching Center to develop, implement, and evaluate professional-development programs for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, including the WU-CIRTL program for future faculty in STEM​. With Gina Frey and Jacinta Mutambuki, she is developing and evaluating the STEM Pedagogies workshops--an advanced-level workshop series open to graduate students and postdocs in STEM. In these workshops, participants learn about current pedagogical methods in STEM teaching and learning, as well as relevant cognitive-science research on learning and memory. These workshops are an essential component of the WU-CIRTL program for future faculty.

Denise is helping to develop the WU-CIRTL program with Gina Frey, Beth Fisher, Kathy Miller (Professor and Chair of Biology), and the WU-CIRTL steering committee. This program has been developed in coordination with the 23-institution CIRTL network, with support from the National Science Foundation. The mission of CIRTL (the Center for Integrating Research, Teaching, and Learning) is to improve undergraduate STEM education by training future faculty in evidence-based teaching. In addition to her work developing the local WU-CIRTL program, Denise is co-teaching a CIRTL cross-network course, Diversity in the College Classroom in fall 2014.

Denise consults with graduate students and postdocs on teaching and professional-development in teaching, and she co-teaches, with Gina Frey and Erin Solomon (Project Manager, AAU Program), Introduction to Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL), a 1-credit course for graduate students and postdocs that is offered each spring semester. Students in this course develop expertise in research methods that may be used to assess the effectiveness of specific teaching methods. The Introduction to SoTL course is an important component of the WU-CIRTL program.

Denise enjoys building interdisciplinary connections with others who have a passion for teaching and learning, and she is most interested in innovative, student-centered methods of teaching that encourage and inspire non-traditional and underrepresented student groups to pursue STEM majors. In addition, she plays a leadership role on the team that is developing and implementing Catalysts for Change, an outreach program designed to encourage young women in St. Louis area high schools to pursue STEM degrees.

A graduate of Saint Louis University with a PhD in Biology (2008), Denise completed a dissertation focused on behavioral enrichment for Mexican gray wolves and African wild dogs. She also completed a Graduate Certificate in University Teaching Skills at Saint Louis University’s Reinert Center for Transformative Teaching and Learning. She has extensive teaching experience, including—most recently—courses in Field Biology and Environmental Science, as well as laboratory courses in General Biology and Genetics at Benedictine University and Lewis University.