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11/13/2006 New Linfield faculty named Project Kaleidoscope fellows

McMINNVILLE - Two new Linfield College science faculty members have been named Project Kaleidoscope fellows and recently contributed to a national report.

Anne Kruchten, assistant professor of biology, and Michael Crosser, assistant professor of physics, participated as Project Kaleidoscope (PKAL) fellows, joining an estimated 200 colleagues from around the nation at the Project Kaleidoscope national assembly in Chicago, Ill., in October.

Kruchten and Crosser join two other Linfield faculty members previously named to the fellowship. Chris Gaiser, associate professor of biology, and Elizabeth Atkinson, associate professor of chemistry, are also PKAL fellows.

The conference provided a chance for educators to exchange ideas and experiences with peers within the national science, technology, engineering and mathematics community. The conference offered a variety of speakers and breakout groups for participants and resulted in a national report. Their expertise on undergraduate education has been included in a national report for President George Bush and the National Research Council.

PKAL is a leading advocate for building and sustaining strong programs in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The program equips teams of faculty and administrators for leadership in reform focusing on all facets of the undergraduate learning environment, including faculty quality, facility character, curriculum design, institutional culture and budgets.

"We talked about the future of science technology, engineering and math, and how to create more educated scientists," said Kruchten.

They discussed learning theories, teaching evaluations and collaborative teaching across disciplines. Kruchten attended a session on math and biology, and as a result, hopes to collaborate with a math class at Linfield.

Both Kruchten and Crosser said the experience has already impacted their students at Linfield.

"I came back and changed my lecture a little, added a few more problems and broke students into groups," said Kruchten. "I have new ideas for exams and I'm redesigning how I'll teach the rest of the class."

"I have already been more willing to experiment with how I teach my classes," Crosser added. "I discussed with many people how to break out of the 'I talk - you write' methodology and into more interactive teaching styles. If nothing else, I am having more fun."

Perhaps the most beneficial part of the conference was connecting with colleagues and sharing ideas.

"It was fantastic being able to interact with other science, technology, engineering and mathematics faculty from across the country," Crosser said. "The optimism of everyone was contagious."

Kruchten earned a Ph.D. in biochemistry, molecular biology and biophysics from the University of Minnesota. She completed an undergraduate degree in biology from Transylvania University and was a postdoctoral research fellow at the Mayo Clinic School of Medicine before coming to Linfield.

Crosser completed his Ph.D. in physics at Michigan State University. He received a bachelor's with a double major in physics and mathematics from Centre College. Most recently, he spent a year as a research associate at Michigan State University.