Molecular Biologist Finds Home in the Classroom
When Ann Riedl graduated from Case Western Reserve University with her Ph.D. in genetics in 1994, she wanted to cure cancer.
“I wanted to do research at that point,” Ann admits. She received a post-doctoral fellowship at Boston University, where she started doing molecular biology research. Soon, she was asked to teach medical courses, which led to five years balancing teaching and research fifty-fifty.
But in 2003, Ann and her husband had their first child, and a job change for her husband brought them to Colorado. Although her new motherhood duties kept her plenty busy, Ann missed the professional environment. “I realized I wanted to teach, because I thought it would be a perfect fit for where I was in my life,” she says. She learned about a part-time position at FRCC’s Westminster Campus teaching a General Biology class, applied, and was hired in 2004.
Community College: A New (and Welcome) Setting
Having only taught medical students, coming to a community college was a totally different environment for Ann. But it didn’t take long for her to feel she was where she belonged. Ann joined FRCC full time in 2009. The diversity of her students, she says, has helped her learn to be a better teacher. “It challenges me because we have such a variety of students here. Some of them have kids and jobs and parents to take care of, and yet they are going to school. They believe in this enough that they are overcoming all kinds of barriers to be here. I admire them.”
Researching the Flipped Classroom
These days, Ann is researching how students learn. She was recently awarded a $14,000 grant by the FRCC President’s Innovation Fund, a three-year program that has committed $450,000 toward projects that advance FRCC’s strategic plan, Vision 2015. Her project: implementing the inverted classroom model, in which teachers “flip” the classroom by recording lectures that students can watch on their own and using class time to work through assignments and class concepts together.
Now that she’s received the grant, Ann is planning to roll out the model in her General Biology classes in fall 2013. “This is such an amazing opportunity to make a difference in student success,” says Ann. “I’m so grateful for the support and encouragement from Andy [Dorsey] and the rest of the administration.” Ann will spend the 2012-2013 school year designing the program and recruiting other faculty to join the project.
Helping Students Realize Their Dreams
Although a community college isn’t where she pictured herself when she got her Ph.D., Front Range is definitely home today. “I couldn’t picture myself anywhere else,” Ann says. “I feel honored to teach here. We have amazingly smart students, and I get to help them realize their dreams.”
Admittedly, Ann says part of what she loves most is her fellow faculty members, whom she holds in high regard. “So many people are excited about what they do here. I think we’re at a crossroads at Front Range right now, with Andy really pushing success and innovation. It’s an exciting time to be here, and I think this college can become a frontrunner in this country.”