Q&A with Sulochana Wasala

Please briefly describe your career progression and responsibilities at your job since completing the GCCUT program.

After completing my doctoral studies in biology and participating in the GCCUT program, I pursued a postdoctoral position where I continued to contribute to biological research, and scientific publications. Inspired by the GCCUT program, I continued to engage in workshops/training related to teaching and learning. Building upon these experiences and driven by my passion for teaching, I decided to transition into academia. My decision to join the OSU faculty was fueled by my appreciation for the department, university and state. Currently, I serve as an instructor in the Department of Integrative Biology (IB), where my primary responsibility is teaching introductory and upper-level undergraduate courses. In addition to teaching, I play an important role in mentoring and supporting undergraduate research, participate in graduate thesis committees, supervise and guide Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs), and partake in professional development training including participation in diversity, equity, justice, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. Beyond the classroom, my responsibilities extend to engaging in research and scholarship endeavors, where I contribute to both pedagogical and biological research. Additionally, I am committed to engage in service to the Department, College, University and broadly to the to the Profession and public. I am very excited about the opportunity to share my expertise and guide the next generation of scholars in this enriching educational environment.

What specific aspects of your participation in the GCCUT program impacted your job attainment process?

The comprehensive training and experiences gained through the GCCUT program have been instrumental in preparing me for success in academia. The program equipped me with a diverse skill set, ranging from pedagogical knowledge to technological proficiency, and fostered a commitment to inclusive and effective, evidence-based teaching practices. For example, the courses offered in the GCCUT program, such as "Theories of Teaching and Learning" and "Course Design & Methods for College and University Teaching," provided me with a solid foundation in pedagogy. These courses equipped me with essential knowledge and strategies for effective teaching in higher education settings. With the increasing demand for online education, the course "Introduction to Online Course Development and Facilitation" was particularly valuable. It equipped me with the necessary skills and techniques for developing and facilitating online courses, which has become increasingly relevant in today's educational landscape. Workshops I attended via TTT (Tuesday Teaching Talks) such as "Creating Equitable & Culturally Inclusive Environments" and "Supporting Diverse Learners through Culturally Responsive Teaching" helped me develop a deeper understanding of how to create inclusive learning environments. This training has been invaluable in my interactions with students from diverse backgrounds. Courses and workshops focused on assessing student work, interpreting course data, and using instruments and online interactions in the sciences have improved my ability to assess student learning effectively. This skill set is crucial for designing meaningful learning experiences and improving instructional practices based on data-driven insights. Finally, participating in the capstone seminar and internship provided opportunities for professional development and networking within the academic community. These experiences allowed me to gain practical teaching experience under the guidance of experienced educators and mentors.

In what ways has taking part in the GCCUT program changed your thinking about teaching, learning, or higher education in general?

Participating in the GCCUT program has really changed how I see teaching, learning, and higher education overall. It's helped me understand that teaching isn't just about sharing knowledge - it's about understanding how students learn best and creating an environment where everyone feels included and valued. Overall, it's made me even more passionate about making education accessible and engaging for all students.

Is there anything else you would add about your GCCUT experience that you think would interest prospective students?

Absolutely! My GCCUT experience was truly enriching and eye-opening. For anyone passionate about teaching and aiming to enter academia, GCCUT offers a wonderful chance to develop both theoretical understanding and practical skills in higher education, all within a supportive and like-minded community.