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Postdoc Spotlight: Laura Manella

Laura Manella, photo provided

Postdoc Laura Manella is featured as part of Cornell's Postdoc Appreciation Week, 2015. Find out more about the week's events, giveaways, and other awesome postdocs here.

What is your area of emphasis? Why is this work important?

I'm a teaching postdoc, working on incorporating more active learning into the curriculum of two core courses in my department.  This is important because active learning has been shown to increase ease of learning, increase performance in classes, and overall encourage students to take control and ownership of their education. I feel that active learning is the way to engage and inspire students from all walks of life.

What inspired you to choose your field of study?

Throughout my education, I have been inspired by teachers that go above and beyond to make sure their students have access to all the knowledge and skills it takes to become a future expert in their fields.  I wanted to delve deeper into the evolution of teaching and learning in order to contribute to STEM education, the way my teachers have.

How has your background influenced your scholarship?

Throughout my own education and in the process of educating students in the same topics, I have been able to glean a lot of information about how learning works, and sometimes doesn’t. I have been inspired by students’ hard work, dedication, and creative thinking.  Moreover, by learning about how brains process and retain information, I have been able to start to think about education itself as a scientific process, whose efficacy can be improved by thinking about how learning and memory works.

What other hobbies or activities do you enjoy in your spare time?

I enjoy gardening, singing, hiking, jogging, yoga and board games. 

Why did you choose Cornell?

I chose Cornell because it is a great place to be.  The faculty are kind, generous, and incredibly intelligent.  Cornell also has great resources.

What’s next for you?

Hopefully I will be able to get a job teaching undergraduates at a college or university, or perhaps work in educational administration, to encourage departments to adopt active learning.

Do you have any advice for current graduate students?

My advice is to follow your passions.  Before you can do that, however, you need to think long and hard about what your passions actually are!