Conference picture

Past Winners of the Teacher of the Week

Clayton Caswell


The Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research (CIDER) recognizes Clayton Caswell, assistant professor of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, for championing graduate education at Virginia Tech. Dr. Caswell serves as the Chair of the Integrated Microbiology Program (IMP), an interdisciplinary graduate program for students in the microbial sciences, and in this role, he facilitates interactions between faculty and students across the University. In the laboratory, Dr. Caswell mentors and trains graduate students in the practical elements of microbiology, and in the classroom, he educates students about the fundamental principles of how bacteria cause disease. His approaches to educating students in the classroom reveal his dedication to promoting graduate education and training the next generation of scientists.

After arriving at Virginia Tech, Dr. Caswell developed a new graduate course titled Molecular Mechanism of Pathogenic Bacteria. This course is designed to introduce students to the mechanisms employed by bacteria to successfully infect their hosts, with an emphasis on developing and evaluating hypothesis-driven experimentation. Dr. Caswell uses a combination of group learning, discussion sessions, and critical evaluation of primary literature for this course, and the students are exposed to the most recent advances, both technological and theoretical, in microbiology. Importantly, Dr. Caswell fosters an environment of mutual respect in the classroom, as he appreciates that each student brings with them a wealth of knowledge, and he actively encourages open and constructive dialogue among all course participants.

Students who have completed Dr. Caswell's course had extremely positive comments regarding the course content, the course design, and the course instructor.

"Outstanding paper discussions that were a seamless springboard from the lectures before them. I feel like I can analyze papers critically, and not just for the facts. Clay does a fantastic job and has created the model for what every graduate class in the life sciences should be like. I was excited to come to class."

"I enjoyed the course format with an interactive lecture to discuss the topic followed by paper review and discussion the following class. This was a well organized class. I am glad that laboratory techniques and current technology were brought up in class. Practical applications unfortunately do not always make their way into graduate classes."

"The discussion based layout of this course is definitely helpful in my growth in graduate school. It is so important to be able to effectively read and critique scientific writing. I also was a huge fan of outside speakers in the sense that we were able to meet other people in the field fostering communication."


( 1090 )

Nominate a
Teacher of the Week

The goal of the Teacher of the Week program is to recognize effective, engaged, and dynamic teachers. Please consider nominating a teacher; the process is clear and concise (no dossiers; see nomination page).

View Past Winners

A list of the past winners is available.