Yale Center for Teaching and Learning

Helmsley Postdoctoral Teaching Scholars

The Helmsley Team

(L to R): Dr. Lake Bookman (Scholar), Dr. Claudia De Grandi (Scholar), Dr. Elizabeth Morse Luoma (Program Director), Dr. Savan Kharel (Scholar), Dr. Brett C. Smith (Scholar)


Helmsley Program Overview 

The Helmsley Charitable Trust generously supports four Helmsley Postdoctoral Scholars, two in physics and two in math. The Helmsley Scholars pioneer innovative teaching approaches in their respective Yale departments as well as at area partner institutions, employing the use of instructional technology and evidence-based teaching methods. Helmsley Scholars also play a vital role in planning and facilitating our Science Education Seminar & Journal Club series and our annual Summer Institutes to train STEM faculty and future faculty in evidence-based teaching. 

For more information: Yale News Press Release on Helmsley Program


Helmsley Innovative Teaching Showcase

Helmsley Scholars are committed to increasing student persistence in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields by employing evidence-based teaching strategies in their introductory courses. Here we will feature innovative teaching pioneered by our Helmsley Scholars: 

Random Walk 

Aerial view of random walk at Becton Plaza

In collaboration with Yale physics professor Simon Mochrie, Helmsley Scholar Claudia De Grandi leads “random walk” activities in Becton Plaza for PHYS 170: University Physics for the Life Sciences.

Claudia writes, “Students in PHYS 170 learn ‘by doing’. They discover what a random process is and how it diffuses in space by creating a human ensemble of random walkers in an outdoor space. They flip a coin to decide whether to move forward or backward, and they all move synchronously at the sound of a gong. They can thus appreciate visually the meanings of mean and standard deviation by looking at their classmates spreading in Becton Plaza. Students enjoy this kinesthetic experience of collectively being part of an experiment.”

For more information: 

How To Implement The Random Walk Activity in Your Classroom (Written by Claudia De Grandi)  

Innovative Teaching in the Yale Department of Physics