Denise Leonard

 Denise Leonard

HHMI Postdoctoral Fellow in Science Education
Umrath 136
(314) 935-6142
Denise Leonard joined the Teaching Center and the Department of Biology in January 2013 as the HHMI postdoctoral fellow in science education. Denise works with faculty in the natural sciences to help evaluate the impact of current curricular innovations supported by the University’s HHMI grant for undergraduate education in STEM. In this capacity, Denise is working with STEM faculty in undergraduate laboratory and lecture courses, and with the faculty and staff of the Center for Integrative Research in Cognition, Learning, and Education (CIRCLE). Her mentors are Kathy Miller (Biology) and Gina Frey (The Teaching Center, CIRCLE, and Chemistry).

Denise is working with Academic Services staff at The Teaching Center to develop, present, and evaluate advanced-level teaching workshops for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows 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 partially supported by HHMI, and they are an essential component of the WU-CIRTL program for future faculty.

In addition to funding from HHMI, Denise’s position is supported by an Educational Development Internship Grant from the Professional and Organizational Development Network in Higher Education (POD Network). The POD grant will also support Denise’s travel to the 2013 POD conference in Pittsburgh. The grant focuses on diversity, which is one of the focal points of the WU-CIRTL program.

Denise enjoys building interdisciplinary connections with others who have a passion for teaching and learning. Denise’s teaching interests are in the areas of general biology for both science and non-science majors, biological diversity, environmental science, and animal behavior. Denise has previously held teaching positions at both community and undergraduate colleges where she taught a wide range of biology courses. Most recently, Denise taught courses in Field Biology, Environmental Science, and laboratory courses in General Biology and Genetics at Benedictine University and Lewis University.

Denise is most interested in innovative, student-centered methods of teaching that encourage and inspire non-traditional and underrepresented student groups to pursue STEM majors. Denise also recently served as an Undergraduate Research Mentor in ecological sciences for the Urban Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics Talent Expansion Program at Chicago State University, a program that seeks to increase the number of students to graduate from STEM programs. Denise has also served as Coordinator of Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation in the Sciences where she implemented a STEM workshop series to create informal science opportunities for first and second year underrepresented college students. Denise has also provided science instruction for high school students through the Upward Bound program and for fifth grade elementary students through the Robert Morris College Science and Technology Enrichment Program, a program that seeks to provide an innovative, interactive, science instruction to inner-city elementary school students.

Denise is a graduate of Saint Louis University with a PhD in Biology with concentrations in conservation biology, animal behavior, and behavioral ecology. Her dissertation research focused on behavioral enrichment for Mexican gray wolves and African wild dogs. She also completed a Graduate Certificate in University Teaching Skills at the Reinert Center for Transformative Teaching and Learning at Saint Louis University.