Science education probed during April 2 lecture at Gilgamesh Brewery

by University Communications,

In the age of online learning, is the classroom lecture becoming extinct or simply evolving?

This is one of the questions Catherine Drennan, a professor of chemistry and biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will explore April 2 at 7 p.m. at Gilgamesh Brewery, 2065 Madrona Ave. SE in Salem.

During the free event, she will talk about the merits of lecture-style teaching in an era when many students are exploring other options — such as online learning. She will also discuss the efforts she shares with her colleagues to develop an engaging lecture experience that inspires students to continue on in the sciences.

“Dr. Catherine Drennan is a first-class scientist at one of the top academic research institutions in the world,” says Chuck Williamson, a chemistry professor at Willamette.

“She carries out fundamental investigations at the intersection of biology and chemistry, but she is also passionate about preparing the next generation of young women and men for careers in science.”

Drennan’s visit is funded by Willamette University, one of five undergraduate institutions to receive the Jean Dreyfus Boissevain Lectureship for Undergraduate Institutions.

In addition to the lecture series, the grant is supporting two summer undergraduate research students participating in the university’s Science Collaborative Research Program next summer.

Drennan began working at MIT in 1999. Since then, she’s trained graduate student teaching assistants to be effective teacher-scholars. She’s created free resources for educators to help students recognize the underlying chemical principles in biology and medicine. She’s also made strides using X-ray crystallography — a tool used for determining molecular structure — to take snapshots of enzymes in action.

In addition to her community lecture, Drennan will share her expertise during a series of private forums April 2 and 3. These events include a technical research lecture on campus to scientists from throughout the region and a visit to Bush Elementary School, where she will help Willamette’s Webber Scholars teach young girls about the importance and value of a science education.

“Through the lectureship, community members are brought together to celebrate outstanding science education and cutting-edge research,” Williamson says. “We are grateful to the Dreyfus Foundation for the award and are excited to see the many benefits it will have for our students and colleagues.”