Behind the Bok: Yasemin Kalender

October 1, 2021
Behind the Bok: Yasemin Kalender

Each month we will profile a member of the Bok staff in order for our friends and colleagues to learn more about us, the full range of work that we do, how we approach our work, and what is happening in the world of teaching and learning from different perspectives.

Yasemin Kalender, Assistant Director, Science Pedagogy

Q: What is your educational background?

A: All of my degrees (B.S., M.Sc. and Ph.D.) are in physics and astronomy. I have worked in various research fields in physics, mainly particle physics and supernova astronomy. During the last three years of my Ph.D. training, I discovered the growing field of physics education research. With my huge interest in and excitement about education, and how much I cared about improving the way we taught physics, I decided to pursue this research area! Almost every person I have met has said how much they hated or were scared of learning physics. Through this field, I wanted to focus on helping people see how amazing and fun it is to learn and engage with physics.

Q: How did you come to do this work?

A: As I mentioned above, I was always interested in both the learning and teaching side of this work. As a researcher in STEM education, I have always been passionate about implementing the theories and findings in an actual classroom setting, with different learning spaces and contexts. I had an opportunity to learn more about the work of teaching and learning centers when I was doing my postdoc at Cornell. In addition to our research advisors, my postdoc group received training from the Center for Teaching Innovation and met with their staff on a regular basis to share ideas. That experience made me think about other ways to contribute to higher education instead of following a research career. I was also excited for this position at the Bok Center knowing that I will have an opportunity to work with the general science education community instead of one particular field (in my case, physics).

Q: What do you like best about working at the Bok Center?

A: Collaboration is probably the first thing that comes to my mind. Also, I really enjoy having the opportunity to teach graduate students! Interacting with them and having generative discussions about their teaching and how they can best help their students is a very valuable part of my work, especially knowing that these graduate students may want to pursue teaching careers and have a great impact on future students’ experiences in the sciences.

Q: What do you love to do when you’re not doing teaching and learning work?

A: I do painting (mostly watercolor and gouache), and exercise (yoga, zumba, running occasionally!), just to keep me healthy. I also enjoy reading Science Fiction or Fantasy Fiction literature. I really like Ursula Le Guin and Brandon Sanderson’s books.