Faculty Fellow: Meet Dr. Lisa Elfring
This fall, the SALT Center will welcome Dr. Lisa Elfring, Associate Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology, as our new Faculty Fellow. Lisa is eager to engage with students, faculty, and staff from other disciplines to learn more about their experiences and challenges. She also looks forward to expanding her own knowledge and understanding of how students learn.
Lisa came to the UA about 18 years ago to help with a program designed to support those teaching biology to K-12 students. She knew early on that her career would not keep to a traditional trajectory. Unlike other faculty, she does not have an active research program – she is here to teach, to support those who teach, and to discover how students learn best. Currently, Lisa teaches Introductory Biology, MCB 181, and biology Teaching Methods.
Lisa became interested in the Faculty Fellows program because of the opportunity it would afford her to have more one-on-one interaction with students: “Sometimes the University feels too big. This is a new opportunity to engage with students.” She was drawn to the idea of connecting with students, as well as exploring skills that will increase their success:
“Students tend to be anonymous. The program [allows] students to be in a supportive community so that they can be stretched and challenged.”
Lisa credits a few of her own teachers with inspiring her current pedagogy: “I had some very supportive elementary teachers that went beyond teaching to identify who I was and really know me. They could see what was different about me and nurtured that. It was empowering to have my 4th grade teacher tell me, ‘No one else does this better than you do, so what if we give you things to do that you might enjoy and succeed at more than anyone else?’”
Lisa’s favorite thing about teaching is getting to know and work with students as they grow. She enjoys watching students go through the learning process, making connections, and increasing their ability to put ideas together. Because she teaches predominantly large classes of 350-450 students, she occasionally does activities to help demystify complex concepts: “We use these really big words and talk about complicated systems. I really like doing activities that help the student to learn... It’s all about helping students connect the words to the actual process or structure.”
When asked what was important for others to know about her personally, she said,
“I like the light hearted things. I feel you have to have fun in what you do. When you have fun on the job, those you work with will also have fun. It’s important to have enjoyment in the things you do on a daily basis.”
Some of her favorite things to do to recharge include reading, spending time with her kids, and having family downtime. She also loves Mexican food, short fiction works by Neal Gaiman, Jazz music and Led Zeppelin, varying shades of the color blue, Bugs Bunny, “because he’s sassy,” and camping off the beaten path in the mountains. Be sure to say “Hello!” when you see her in the Student Lounge at the SALT Center.
To learn more about the UA Faculty Fellows Program, visit: saem-aiss.arizona.edu/sr-vp/faculty-programs/faculty-fellows
We would like to thank Mike Litwin and his family for sponsoring our Faculty Fellow this year.
WHAT IS THE UA FACULTY FELLOWS PROGRAM?
A group of 45 UA faculty dedicated to promoting student engagement and success by creating a supportive environment on campus.
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THE FACULTY FELLOWS PROGRAM?
To foster students’ connection to the UA and help make a large school feel smaller by creating avenues for relationship building between students and faculty.
WHAT IS THE ROLE OF A FACULTY FELLOW?
To connect with students through meaningful interactions in a non-classroom setting in order to facilitate a smooth transition from high school to the university, more effective decision-making, and increased love of learning, and ultimately, graduation.
HOW DO FACULTY FELLOWS PROMOTE STUDENT ENGAGEMENT?
By taking students on hikes, cooking together, going to events, mentoring, and spending time connecting one-on-one.
WHEN AND WHERE DO FACULTY FELLOWS MEET WITH STUDENTS?
Faculty Fellows can be found at thirty-six sites across campus, including all of UA’s undergraduate residence halls, cultural centers, and resource centers. Faculty Fellows spend peak traffic hours at these locations each week to optimize student engagement. This fall, the SALT Center will welcome Dr. Lisa Elfring, Associate Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology, as our new Faculty Fellow. Lisa is eager to engage with students, faculty, and staff from other disciplines to learn more about their experiences and challenges. She also looks forward to expanding her own knowledge and understanding of how students learn.