Alessandra Leri, Ph.D. Awarded 2020 Innovative Teaching Award

  • Alessandra Leri, Ph.D.
Leri, a Professor of Chemistry in the Department of Natural Sciences, has been awarded the Center for Teaching Innovation and Excellence (C-TIE) 2020 Innovative Teaching Award for her project, Knowledge is Power: Transitioning the Biology Senior Seminar to Focus on COVID-19.

After Marymount Manhattan College’s campus and courses transitioned to remote learning in mid-March due to COVID-19, C-TIE announced an award to the faculty member who has responded to the pandemic in a pedagogically innovative way through support and maintaining a nurturing learning environment and has helped shepherd their students through the disruption and disorientation, while maintaining a nurturing learning environment and contributing to their students’ learning

Leri utilized her Senior Seminar as a learning and teaching opportunity for all. Susan Behrens, Ph.D., Director of C-TIE and Chair of the award’s selection committee, shared that Leri’s work embodied the spirit of this award “at a moment when knowledge and healing were much needed.”

About Knowledge is Power

Implemented in Senior Seminar (BIOL 490)

From Leri’s application: “At the beginning of the Spring 2020 semester (my first-time teaching BIOL 490), we began senior seminar with a focus on the role of metallic elements in living systems. When the COVID-19 pandemic forced the transition to distance learning in mid-March, our seniors were particularly despondent about their lost opportunities. As the instructor for senior seminar, I felt an urgent need to boost their spirits while ensuring that the course maintained its learning effectiveness, especially with regard to teaching the students how to read and interpret primary literature. I hit on a way to achieve both goals simultaneously by changing our course theme to focus on the latest scientific research related to the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. I implemented this change before our first Zoom meeting, abandoning the previous syllabus altogether. The students adapted quickly to virtual presentations via screen-sharing on the Zoom platform. Course materials, readings, and assignments continued to be distributed, submitted, and graded via Blackboard.”

C-TIE is also pleased to award an Honorable Mention to adjunct instructor, MaryAnne Piccolo ’05, for her work in Pop/Rock Performance (THTR 356). Here, Piccolo took the planned final project “share” to industry at an off-campus venue and instead created a virtual showcase for the students that actually brought their work to a wider community. The revisions to the curriculum not only challenged students to take more control of their solo shows but to ensure a cohesive group product. Watch the performances here.

Congratulations, to both Dr. Leri and Professor Piccolo!

About C-TIE

Founded in 2011, MMC’s Center for Teaching Innovation and Excellence (C-TIE) is a physical and intellectual space where our faculty members can exchange ideas, seek advice and resources, stay up-to-date on the latest developments in pedagogy, and constantly grow as teachers and mentors.

A peer-led, supportive center, C-TIE enables faculty to participate in pedagogy workshops, partake in mentoring clusters, engage in theme-based dialogues, request confidential feedback on their teaching, access online resources via the College website, and seek guidance in obtaining funds for instructional improvement. The Center serves faculty new to college teaching, as well as those with many years in the classroom. Beyond mere remediation, the Center invites all faculty who are in search of new ideas, shared conversation, and a community of teachers as support. With the establishment of C-TIE, the College strengthens its commitment to teaching excellence.


Susan Behrens, Ph.D.
Director, Center for Teaching Innovation and Excellence