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Takayama, Kathy

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Associate Director for Life and Physical Sciences

Adjunct Associate Professor, Dept of Molecular Biology, Cell Biology and Biochemistry

Brown University

Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning

Box 1912, 96 Waterman Street

Providence, RI 02912

tel: (401) 863 - 9192



I have recently moved back to the US from Australia to become Associate Director (Life and Physical Sciences) of the Harriet W. Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning and Adjunct Associate Professor of the Dept of Molecular Biology, Cell Biology and Biochemistry at Brown University. Prior to joining Brown, I lived in Sydney for 14 years, and was a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences at the University of New South Wales.     

I was a Carnegie Scholar in 2003, and became a founding member of the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. I went on to serve as ISSOTL’s first Regional VP for Australasia, and Chair of the 4th ISSOTL Conference in Sydney. In addition to serving on the Steering Committee of the NSF Biology Scholars Program, I am Co-Chair of the Biology Scholars Writing Residency Program. I serve on the Editorial Board for the International Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, the SoTL journal MountainRise, and the Journal of Microbiology and Biology Education (ASM Press). In 2003 I was awarded the UNSW Vice Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence, and in 2004 I received the Australian College of Educators NSW State Teaching Award. I was the recipient of the Australian Society for Microbiology Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2005.    


I’ve engaged in cross-disciplinary research on the impact of visualizations on learning in the sciences. My SoTL work centers around i) the utilization and impact of visualizations on learning in the sciences; and ii) how collaborative inquiry develops in online communities (disciplinary; multidisciplinary; international) [for publications, see bibliography page]. I have also engaged in arts-science collaborations to explore the communication and interpretation of the sciences. I have been awarded grants to work with international artists and museums on science-arts collaborations, and my work with Sydney-based sculptor John Nicholson (“The Symbiotic Bacterial Light Project: Luxcorp”) has been exhibited at the Canberra Contemporary Arts Space gallery in Australia’s capital city. Our collaboration has also led to the development of innovative school curricula for gifted students, in partnership with the Australian Museum (natural history museum). I also enjoy my work in outreach projects for elementary schools and museums, and I continue to mentor underprivileged children in the sciences.    

My goal as a teacher has been to develop independence in my students through a scaffolded process of experiential learning and critical inquiry. My aim is to engage students in a learning process that makes critical thinking ‘visible’. How? By teaching science as we practice scientific inquiry. How do I make the ‘thinking and reasoning processes’ transparent to my students? I have found that by structuring the learning process through iterative cycles of questioning, analysis, synthesis, critique and reflection, students start to recognize and adopt this process as a natural progression of inquiry.     

My teaching and mentoring philosophies are both centered on the notion of self-authorship as a cognitive and affective developmental process in higher education students. Self-authorship has been described as “the capacity to internally define a coherent belief system and identity that coordinates engagement in mutual relations with the larger world” (Baxter-Magolda 2004*). It is this internal foundation that enables the learner to become cognizant of multiple perspectives and critically interpret these perspectives. My goal is to facilitate the development of self-authorship by validating my students’ experiences and perspectives in scholarship and in personal development. I value the creative energies that evolve from teacher-student/mentor-mentee learning partnerships, as I also view my own trajectory as that of a continuing scholar.

Life outside of the academe revolves around my family- we have two Aussie-born girls (8 and 10) who have, unfortunately, already lost their accents since arriving in the US.The latest addition to our family is our 10-week old labradoodle puppy. Other passions include fine wine and chocolate. I also enjoy my early morning runs, which justify my quest for more chocolate. My one concession to kitsch is my snow globe collection (it all started with one humorous souvenir, but friends continue to bring me globes from the far corners of the world).    

 *Baxter Magolda, M. in Baxter Magolda, M. & King, P.M. eds. (2004) Learning Partnerships. Stylus Publishing, Sterling, Virginia; p. xxii31.


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