Cottrell Scholars

Cottrell Scholars Collaborative

The Cottrell Scholars Collaborative, begun in 2011, is a cross-disciplinary network of Cottrell Scholars who work in teams on projects with potential high impact. CSC’s overarching goal is to improve undergraduate and graduate science education at colleges and universities across the country.

CS Logo

Through teamwork and in partnership with national initiatives, CSC develops creative approaches to overcome traditional bottlenecks to excellence in teaching and student learning. New ideas for collaborative projects emerge at the annual Cottrell Scholar conference and opportunities to participate are available to all Cottrell Scholars in attendance.

Mission Statement

The Cottrell Scholars Collaborative aims to promote, develop, and implement the integration of transformative scientific discovery with teaching of science at U.S. colleges and universities.

Collaborative Projects

As a result of discussions and collaborations formed at Cottrell Scholar conferences, several teams have received CSC Collaborative Grants since the start of the initiative in 2011. Funding is meant to support projects that can change the culture of a department or institution or connect with a national initiative related to improving science teaching in colleges and research universities. Only Cottrell Scholars attending the conference are eligible to apply for CS Collaborative Awards. Award size is $25,000.

Examples of Collaborative Projects follow:

  • “Promoting Adoption of Research and Inquiry-Based Lab Curricula.” Cottrell Scholar collaborators: Jennifer Heemstra (Chemistry, University of Utah) and Rory Waterman (Chemistry, University of Vermont)

The goal of this project is to provide resources and support for broader adoption of research, discovery, and inquiry models in physical sciences instruction. The team convened a workshop of practitioners, education researchers, society representatives, and stakeholders including representatives from the AAU, National Science Foundation, and the National Academy of Sciences. The group is also collaborating with other stakeholders including CUREnet. A workshop report will be disseminated in 2017, and a quick reference guide for instructors considering CUREs has been produced. (PDF, 2.5MB)

  • “Teacher Scholar Ambassadors for PUI – R1 Partnerships.” Cottrell Scholar Collaborators: Mario Affatigato (Physics, Coe College), Kathryn Haas (Chemistry, St. Mary’s College), Jennifer Prescher (Chemistry, University of California, Irvine) and Zachary Schultz (Chemistry, University of Notre Dame)

The goal of this Cottrell Scholar Collaborative is to leverage partnerships between primarily undergraduate institutions (PUI) and research intensive (R1) universities to promote high quality undergraduate research experiences. By promoting collaboration between PUI and R1 faculty, we hope to increase research experiences available to undergraduates and educate graduate students and postdocs about career possibilities. The project supports two distinct activities:

Phase I:  Cottrell Lecturers.  This is travel support for a Cottrell Scholar to visit either a PUI or R1 institution with the intent to establish collaboration. Application link:

Phase II:  Mini-Grants. Small research awards to help promote collaborations between PUI and R1 faculty. Application link:

To facilitate identifying collaborators a directory of Cottrell Scholars and their research interests has been compiled.

  • “Effective Practices in Learning and Pedagogy from Cottrell Scholars: A High Impact Text for Educational Leadership in the 21st Century.” Cottrell Scholar collaborators: Penny Beuning (Chemistry, Northeastern University), Scott Snyder (Chemistry, Florida Scripps Research Institute) and David Besson (Physics, University of Kansas)

The goal of this project was to collect testimonials from Cottrell Scholars to assist new faculty as they start their academic careers. The outcome of this project is a new book, titled “Teach Better, Save Time, and Have More Fun: A Guide to Teaching and Mentoring in Science,” which is now available for purchase:

Download a PDF Version (2 MB)

  • "Effective Evaluation of Teaching and Learning (EETL) – Searching for New Approaches to R1 STEM Teaching Evaluation,” Cottrell Scholar collaborators: Stephen Bradforth (Chemistry, University of Southern California), Will Dichtel (Chemistry, Cornell University) and Adam Leibovich (Physics, University of Pittsburgh). Other participants: Toby Smith (Association of American Universities (AAU)), Emily Miller (AAU), Jim Martin (Chemistry, North Carolina State University) and Andrew Feig (Chemistry, Wayne State University)

 Main goal of this project was to deliver a document with a menu of innovative options for evaluation of teaching and learning beyond traditional student evaluations.

After surveying the Cottrell Scholar and the Cottrell College Science Award communities about innovative teaching strategies, principal investigators and collaborators convened a workshop at the headquarters of the American Association of Universities in Washington, D.C., January 2014. Workshop discussions and presentations are summarized in a publication co-sponsored by RCSA and AAU, “Searching for Better Approaches: Effective Evaluation of Teaching and Learning in STEM.”

Download a PDF Version (0.78 MB)

  • “Implementing Effective Evaluation of Teaching and Learning in STEM”
    Leads: Michael Dennin and Zachary Schultz
    Working Group: Adam Leibovich, Andrew Feig, Karen Bjorkman, James Martin, William Dichtel, Lynmarie Posey, Mark Moldwin, Jennifer Ross, Marilyne Stains, Michael Hildreth, Emily Miller (AAU), and Toby Smith (AAU)

Building upon the work of Searching for Better Approaches: Effective Evaluation of Teaching and Learning in STEM this group proposed to expand the impact of the Effective Evaluation of Teaching and Learning (EETL) collaborative project by developing specific guidance for assessing quality teaching. The goal was to create a viable way to implement alternative methods for evaluating teaching and alter the practice of how teaching is recognized and rewarded at R1 institutions, particularly relating to how teaching is evaluated for purposes of promotion and tenure and annual reviews. Principal investigators and collaborators convened a workshop in California on May 2016. Workshop discussions and presentations are summarized in a publication co-sponsored by RCSA and AAU, “Aligning Practice to Policies: Changing the Culture to Recognize and reward Teaching at Research Universities.”

Download a PDF version (0.23 MB)

  • “Mobilizing the Forgotten Army: Equipping TAs with Inquiry-Based Instruction Methods,” Cottrell Scholar collaborators: Jordan Gerton (Physics, University of Utah) and Michael Schatz (Physics, Georgia Institute of Technology)

“Mobilizing the Forgotten Army: Preparing TAs for Leadership in STEM Education” (sponsored by Research Corporation for Science Advancement and co-sponsored by the American Physical Society, the American Chemical Society, and the American Association of Physics Teachers) is a CSC workshop that offers the opportunity for a small group of departmental teams to interact together with colleagues who have expertise in supporting graduate teaching assistants in physics and chemistry. In 2017, the workshop will be held May 31-June 2 on the Georgia Tech campus. Additional information can be found at:

  • “CSC New Faculty Workshop (NFW): Balancing Research and Teaching for a Productive Tomorrow (co-sponsored by Research Corporation for Science Advancement and the American Chemical Society). Cottrell Scholar collaborators: Rory Waterman (Chemistry, University of Vermont) and Andrew Feig (Chemistry, Wayne State University).

This program is designed to aid newly-hired chemistry faculty to develop strong research and teaching programs. The workshop focuses on implementation of evidence-based teaching practices in the classroom, integrating teaching and research, student mentoring and effective time management. Workshop leaders are all successful faculty members who actively balance their research and teaching.In 2017, the CSC NFW will be held August 3-5 at the American Chemical Society headquarters in Washington, DC. Nominations are due May 1.

For more information, visit the workshop’s website, and access the following publications: