Internal - Faculty & Staff

CET Staff

Jennifer H. Herman

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Jennifer H. Herman is Director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Associate Professor of Practice in Education at Simmons University. She has developed, facilitated, or overseen hundreds of research-based faculty development programs around teaching and scholarship and provides structured support for curriculum design at all levels. She has been a grant co-principal investigator or curriculum designer on many high-impact initiatives, including open-source assessment modules for NILOA, programs for the U.S. Department of State, the New York State Small Business Development Center’s online Entreskills program, and a STEM teaching institute for Harvard Medical School. In her faculty role, she teaches courses on teaching, assessment, learning theory, and curriculum development for the Health Professions Education CAGS and doctoral program. Jennifer’s presentations, workshops, and research focus on faculty development programs and Center development, course design, teaching strategies, learning theory, teaching for inclusive excellence, student learning outcomes assessment, instructional technology, and online education; her publications include Creating Engaging Discussions: Strategies for “Avoiding Crickets” in Any Size Class and Online (Stylus, 2018; with L. Nilson). Before coming to Simmons, Dr. Herman was the founding Director of the Center for the Advancement of Scholarship, Teaching, and Learning at Niagara University and taught courses in writing, literature, and education. Jennifer holds a Ph.D. in Higher Education from the University at Buffalo and a MA in International Training and Education from American University.

Ruthann C. Thomas

Associate Director
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Ruthann C. Thomas is the Associate Director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching at Simmons University. She has developed and led workshops for faculty and students to illuminate and address the cognitive, metacognitive, and social aspects of learning based on her scientific expertise in memory and metacognition. Ruthann’s research examines how to use principles of cognitive psychology to optimize student learning, including the memory benefits of studying concrete examples of concepts, of developing awareness of learning processes (i.e., metacognition), and of practice retrieving content from memory (i.e., the testing effect) both in theoretically-grounded lab experiments and applied classroom research in collaboration with educators. Prior to joining the Simmons community, Ruthann was an Associate Professor of Psychology at Hendrix College where she taught courses on cognition, memory, aging, and experimental methods in psychological science. She earned a Ph.D. in Cognition, Perception, and Cognitive Neuroscience from the University of Toronto and held a postdoctoral fellow position at Washington University in St. Louis where she examined the application of cognitive psychology to enhance educational practice. She also holds a BA in Psychology from Furman University.

Kristi Mukk

Projects and Events Coordinator
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Kristi Mukk is Projects and Events Coordinator for the Center for Excellence in Teaching at Simmons University. She graduated with a B.A. in Rhetoric & Communication Studies from the University of Richmond, where she researched and created digital projects and publications about race, critical theory, archives, cultural studies, digital humanities, and public history. Her research has received numerous awards, including recognition by the New York Times and the Virginia Association of Communication Arts & Sciences. Before coming to Simmons, Kristi was an intern at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History in the Political & Military History Division, where she worked on event planning, audience engagement, marketing, and logistical support for events sponsored by the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative and assisted with collections management and cataloging. Her other past roles have included working as Content Curator and Assistant Editor for Bunk, an archive of American history-related digital content, doing archival research for the University of Richmond Race & Racism Project, and serving as Communications Director for Ngoma African Dance Company.

Lydia Fash

CET Faculty Fellow
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Lydia G. Fash is the CET Faculty Fellow and an Assistant Professor NTT in the English Department. After receiving her Bachelors, she taught at two different independent high schools and fell in love with the work of the classroom. While she undertook her doctoral work at Brandeis University, she continued to teach literature courses, writing courses, and English language courses (for English language learners). She earned multiple teaching awards and, funded by the Ford Foundation, ran teaching workshops, conducted faculty observations, and taught English at Al-Quds, a Palestinian university in the West Bank. As an Assistant to the Director for University Writing, she mentored new writing instructors and developed assignments and exercises that other writing teachers could use. Separately, she tutored and trained other tutors for the Brandeis writing center and the Brandeis ELL program. Since earning her doctorate, Lydia has taught rhetoric, literature, theory, ethics, and creative writing at Emerson College, and at Boston, Harvard, and Simmons Universities. She was awarded a Post-Doctoral Fellowship with the Center for Interdisciplinary Teaching & Learning at Boston University, and she has published widely on literature and on pedagogy. Her scholarly monograph on nineteenth-century U.S. short fiction is forthcoming from the University of Virginia Press (spring 2020), and her writing about teaching can be found in Archive Journal, Transformations and elsewhere.

Matthew G. Schwartz

CET Faculty Affiliate
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Matthew G. Schwartz is the CET Faculty Affiliate and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology. He has been a full-time member of the Simmons faculty since January 2018. He currently teaches Anatomy & Physiology and Human Development & Genetics at Simmons and has previously taught at Clark University, Emmanuel College, and Harvard University. He also serves as a PLAN advisor to first year students. Dr. Schwartz received his Ph.D. in Genetics and Genomics from Harvard University in 2016, where he directed independent and collaborative research in limb development and vertebral patterning. He received his bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from Northwestern University in 2009. Dr. Schwartz is passionate about science education and science communication and decided to pursue a career in undergraduate education because he loves inspiring others to be passionate about science and learning. He loves to see the spark of inspiration in students when they understand a scientific concept and see the relevance to their own lives. While teaching, Dr. Schwartz emphasizes critical thinking, problem-solving skills, and communication over memorization to facilitate significant learning and to instill students with the essential capacities they need to be lifelong learners.