ASU joins Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning to better prepare future faculty

ASU graduate students and postdocs can access CIRTL certifications, online classes and workshops to improve their teaching skills


November 1, 2021

The ASU Graduate College has announced that Arizona State University is now a member institution of the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning Network. The CIRTL Network seeks to develop a national faculty by engaging graduate students committed to enhancing excellence in undergraduate education through effective teaching practices for diverse learners.

CIRTL was founded in 2003 as a National Science Foundation Center for Learning and Teaching in higher education. The core ideas of the network are to provide professional development graduate training through diversity, teaching as research, and learning communities. Download Full Image

ASU joins 42 other member research universities, including the University of Arizona, Yale, Stanford, UCLA, Penn State and Caltech, among others.

“The Graduate College shares CIRTL’s mission to support and better serve the professional development needs of graduate students and postdoctoral scholars,” said Elizabeth A. Wentz, vice provost and dean of the Graduate College. “We are excited about adding CIRTL offerings to our professional development resources for future faculty.”

All CIRTL Network member institutions collaborate to learn and share strategies for building local learning communities in support of graduate students and postdoctoral researchers. 

“Universities don’t always do a great job of teaching graduate students and postdocs how to teach, which is often a crucial part of a successful career as a faculty member,” said Tamara Underiner, associate dean of professional development and engagement in the Graduate College. “We joined CIRTL precisely to help fill that gap.”

CIRTL offers a wide range of online programming. A variety of credit-bearing and non-credit-bearing classes are available for graduate students and postdocs, both via the national network and through offerings specific to the ASU community. Some of CIRTL’s core classes include: "Diversity in the College Classroom," "Teaching with Technology" and "Research Mentor Training."

CIRTL's workshops give graduate students and postdocs an opportunity to develop a specific material or set of materials to help advance their career development, such as writing a teaching philosophy or CV. Participants can also join online learning communities that cover a range of topics.

Get certified with CIRTL

All members of the ASU Community are welcome to participate in any of the free ASU/CIRTL offerings. Additionally, graduate students and postdocs wishing to become certified by CIRTL may do so at three tiered levels — associate, practitioner and scholar — representing certain benchmark achievements.

“Once you’re certified for any one of those levels and then apply for a job at another of the 42 CIRTL member institutions, they recognize that as a sign that you have given serious thought to pedagogy and teaching in your discipline,” Underiner said.

Learn more about CIRTL certifications.  

Get your CIRTL account

Through CIRTL membership, graduate students and postdocs have expanded opportunities for future faculty preparation, are able to connect with a national network of future and current faculty, and learn more about evidence-based research and teaching as research.

Interested ASU graduate students, postdocs and faculty should create a CIRTL Network account

The Graduate College will be offering information sessions for graduate students, postdocs and faculty in the spring.

Written by Jenna Nabors

ASU PhD student receives fellowship for research regarding insect behavior


November 1, 2021

Why do certain animals form groups instead of living in isolation? Creatures like bees in a hive will work with each other to adapt to their environment and increase chances of survival. Arizona State University School of Life Sciences PhD student Maddie Ostwald is one of the researchers seeking to understand how and why this behavior occurs. 

Ostwald has been awarded the Mistletoe Research Fellowship from the Momental Foundation for her research of insect behavior.  Arizona State University School of Life Sciences Maddie Ostwald conducting research outside PhD candidate Maddie Ostwald conducts research about social evolution in bees by studying their cooperative behavior. Download Full Image

Ostwald is a PhD candidate in animal behavior studying social evolution in bees. Her research focuses on the cooperative behavior of these insects. 

She is a member of ASU’s Social Insect Research Group, working with Jennifer Fewell, President’s Professor and interim director of the School of Life Sciences. 

Ostwald studies carpenter bees to determine what factors cause them to switch between different social states. Her research has shown that the environment around insects shapes their social decision, and group living can become adaptive in competitive conditions.

Her passion for bees and social behavior began while working at the Children's Museum of Maine. There, she taught a program about honey bees using an observation hive. Her curiosity about the tasks bees would perform in groups helped spark her educational path. Ostwald graduated with a Bachelor of Science in biological sciences in 2016 from Cornell University, where she began her study of collective behavior. After graduation, Ostwald worked at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, where she continued studying the behavior of bees.

“Since I was an undergrad I really wanted to come study at ASU because of its renowned Social Insect Research Group, which is a group of labs that study various aspects of the biology of social insects,” she said. “I was also excited for the opportunity to work in the Sonoran Desert, which has greater bee diversity than anywhere else in the world.”

After receiving her Master of Science from the University of Edinburgh in 2017, Ostwald began her PhD program at ASU. Since her time at the university, she has had many research opportunities with the faculty and has been a co-author of several publications.

The Mistletoe Research Fellowship from the Momental Foundation will help Ostwald continue her research. The Mistletoe Research Fellowship is awarded annually to 20 fellows. These recipients are postdocs or PhD candidates who conduct research in various STEM fields. 

The Momental Foundation’s mission in awarding this fellowship is “to build bridges between the academic, entrepreneurial and civil communities to create a more human-centered and sustainable future through technology.” The foundation will pair Ostwald with a technology hardware startup to participate in a research project.

This fellowship offers Ostwald a research grant that will be used to purchase new field equipment, help with the publishing of research in open-access journals and partially fund an upcoming trip to the University of Münster in Germany to study social evolution in ants.

In her time studying abroad in Germany, Ostwald will visit the lab of Jürgen Gadau at the University of Münster. There, she will study the genetics and chemical ecology of the California harvester ant. Ostwald intends to use this time to further her research of the genetic bases for cooperation and its evolutionary consequences.

"I'm really grateful for this unique opportunity to collaborate with and learn from non-academic groups, and to apply my PhD training to human-domain problems,” Ostwald said.

Hayden Cunningham

Communications Assistant, School of Life Sciences