The CEI proudly presents the first feature of our Pedagogical Fellow Showcase series.
Dominique Ingato is a Ph.D. candidate in the BioTherapeutics Engineering Laboratory (BioTEL) and was a Pedagogical Fellow (PF) during the 2015-2016 academic year. Her primary research focuses on the development of cell-derived nano-carriers for biocompatible, targeted cancer therapy. She is also interested in engineering education and has researched the design of problem-based learning modules for STEM courses. This academic year, Dominique is serving as a senior PF and a member of the STEM Future Faculty advisory committee. Dominique answers our PF Showcase questions:
What motivates you to invest so much in your teaching?
Engineering dropout rates are among the highest for university degree programs, and I have witnessed many capable peers leave engineering. I believe that this stems in part from the culture of engineering programs, which tend to reward research rather than teaching. In my teaching, I’m motivated to work towards increasing retention of students and I invest time to create an inclusive and encouraging learning experience.
What did you get out of the PF Program?
I absorbed an array of pedagogical strategies from the PF program that I continue to use in my teaching. The program also taught me how to critically evaluate and improve my own teaching, and I have become much more confident in my ability to effectively troubleshoot and revise my lessons. Most importantly, I joined a community of dedicated teachers and mentors and developed many friendships throughout the program.
Did the PF Program open up new opportunities for you?
The PF Program opened up more opportunities than I could have possibly imagined. As a direct result of my PF experience, I was invited to apply for the DECADE Education Chair and Engineering Graduate Studies Committee Student Representative positions, both of which I currently hold. I was also hired as the Pedagogical Coach for the 2016 ROCCT program, which aims to help community college teachers get their students more interested and involved in STEM-related research.
What would you tell someone who is interested in the PF Program?
My time in the PF Program is one of the highlights of my UCI experience. Not only will you receive outstanding training in pedagogy, you will also become very close with a community that shares your interest in teaching and desire to improve education at the university.
What are some ways outside of TAing that you’d recommend for graduate students/post docs that need teaching experience?
For anyone interested in teaching, volunteer with student-focused, nonprofit organizations. (For those in STEM, I recommend Rocket Science Tutors.) These programs often allow volunteers to design and teach after school modules. If you are only interested in getting experience at the university level, ask your advisor or any professor in your department if you can give a guest lecture. Make sure to bring feedback forms so that you can gauge what areas of your teaching you can improve upon. Another great option is private or volunteer one-on-one tutoring.
What three words would your closest friends use to describe you?
Ambitious, imaginative, and nurturing
It’s obvious that you devote a lot of your time to your scholarship and teaching. What do you do for fun and relaxation?
I really enjoy rock climbing, baking, and playing cello. Since moving to Irvine, I’ve played in Symphony Irvine, The Orange County Symphony, and as of recently The Orchestra Collective of Orange County.