Dr. Robert Vanderlan is the executive director of the Center for Teaching Innovation. He has been with the Center since its founding in 2017, and has worked in faculty development for more than a decade. He has led teams that offer instructional design support for faculty, co-designed the Center’s New Faculty Teaching Academy, provided instructional design expertise for a range of Cornell’s edX massive open online courses, and helped guide the Center’s response to COVID-disrupted teaching. He received the Cornell President’s “Thoughtful Leader Award” in 2021.
Rob is also a historian and the author of “Intellectuals Incorporated: Politics, Art, and Ideas Inside Henry Luce’s Media Empire.” He was a visiting assistant professor at Cornell for a number of years, teaching courses on U.S. intellectual history, recent political history, and foreign policy. He was previously a visiting assistant professor at Hamilton College.
Uniting his work in faculty development and history are interests in how individuals can seek meaningful work and advocate for change in institutional settings, and a commitment to higher education as a protector of engaged, democratic citizenship.
Rob holds a bachelor’s degree in government from Cornell, where he graduated with distinction in all subjects. He holds a master’s degree in political science from the University of Michigan and a doctorate in U.S. history from the University of Rochester.
Diane Sempler is the Managing Director for the CTI and has been with the Center since its inception in 2017. She manages the day-to-day operations for the Center and co-manages initiatives, strategic planning, and Center and institution-wide projects, in addition to staff management and administrative functions. She also leads a team that supports faculty with innovation projects including blended and online learning.
She has spent several years at Cornell in increasingly senior positions, with prior years of experience managing and leading teams within Information Technologies. Diane’s role in these positions brings broad experience with many facets of leadership, management, organizational development, and project management. She couples this experience with a keen interest in understanding the needs of faculty, staff, and students at Cornell. Diane holds a degree in early childhood development and studied Communications & Marketing at Cornell.
Senior Associate Director
Dr. Carolyn Aslan is a senior associate director at the Center for Teaching Innovation and an associate director for the Active Learning Initiative, which helps faculty incorporate active learning methods into their classes to increase student learning and engagement. She also enjoys working with new faculty as part of our New Faculty Academy. Her interest in teaching developed as a faculty member in archaeology at Koç University in Istanbul where she taught courses in Anatolian archaeology, ancient mythology, and history. Her research focused on Iron Age Anatolia with fieldwork at sites such as Troy, Maydos, and Gordion. A native of Ithaca, she graduated from Cornell with a bachelor’s degree in archaeology and classics. She received a doctorate in classical and near eastern archaeology from Bryn Mawr College.
At the heart of Melina’s pedagogy is an abiding curiosity and commitment to authentic and rightful presence. As an associate director at the CTI, she works with the Cornell teaching community to explore inclusion and belonging in teaching and learning. She’s worked in higher education for nearly two decades as a faculty member, curriculum developer, writer, editor, and educational developer. She has a special interest in global/intercultural learning and storytelling pedagogies. She leads the Teaching & Learning in Diverse Classroom course and co-leads the Any Person, Many Stories: Histories of Exclusion and Inclusion at Cornell project. She is also a scholar-practitioner who writes for the field, including “Analyzing demographic differences during the evaluation of an online course about inclusive teaching” (2023), with Amy Cardace and Sneha Mishra; and “Active pedagogy and ethnographic research: CASA-Sevilla’s Perspective,” in Undergraduate Research Abroad: Approaches, Models, and Challenges (2020) with Davydd J. Greenwood and Eva Infante Mora. She holds two master’s degrees, including an MFA in poetry. Melina is a Queer Latina poet, immigrant rights activist, and organizer.
Dr. Kathleen Landy is the associate director of assessment and evaluation in the Center for Teaching Innovation. She supports assessment and evaluation efforts both within and beyond the center. Kathleen came to Cornell from the City University of New York, where she served as the Assistant Dean for Teaching & Learning at Queensborough Community College. Kathleen holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from SUNY Geneseo, as well as a Master of Science in Teaching and a doctorate in Educational Leadership, Administration, and Policy from Fordham University. Kathleen’s grounding in learning theory, her considerable classroom experience, and the insights gained through years of working with educators inform her commitment to a collaborative approach to reflective instructional and assessment practice. She is a peer evaluator for the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and serves on the Board of Directors (Past President) for the Assessment Network of New York.
Dr. Becky Lane is the associate director for learning technologies. She leads the support and instructional design team that oversees applications such as Canvas, FeedbackFruits, and Digication. As a digital media scholar and creative content director, she is particularly interested in applying emergent technologies such as virtual/augmented reality and artificial intelligence to traditional methods of teaching, learning, and storytelling. Prior to coming to Cornell, she developed and led the Center for Creative Technology, an interdisciplinary space dedicated to incorporating digital media, immersive and spatial computing, and makerspace technologies into teaching and learning at Ithaca College. She’s an award-winning filmmaker, 2019 Oculus JumpStart Fellow, 2017 Google Jump VR/360 award recipient, and holds a Ph.D. from the University of Iowa.
Dr. Derina S. Samuel is an associate director of graduate student development and of the International Teaching Assistant Program. She provides leadership for the GET SET Program, which includes the CTI Graduate Fellow Program, the fall and spring University-wide Teaching Conferences, GET SET workshops and the GET SET Certificate Program. She holds a doctorate in biochemistry and a master’s degree in public administration from Syracuse University, and a bachelor’s and master’s degree in chemistry from the University of Zambia. Her research and teaching interests over the past two decades have focused on future faculty programming, as well as professional development resources for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.
Assistant Director of Learning Technologies
Marina Tokman is an assistant director of learning technologies at the Center for Teaching Innovation and assists faculty in using technologies for teaching. Marina’s experience with academic technologies includes multimedia lesson development, online course development, quality assurance, and supporting user experience in an online learning environment while at eCornell. She holds a degree in systems engineering from The Ohio State University.
Senior Instructional Designer
Rachel Gunderson is a senior instructional designer at the Center for Teaching Innovation. Before joining the CTI, Rachel worked on the instructional design team at eCornell designing and developing online certificates with Cornell faculty and training them to launch courses for their executive master’s programs. As a faculty member herself for eight years at Wells and Ithaca Colleges, Rachel developed a passion for implementing several learner-centered teaching approaches and utilized various tools and strategies for her online, hybrid, and face-to-face teaching experiences. Rachel holds both a Master of Science and Bachelor of Science degree in health education from Ithaca College and, more recently, her graduate certificate in instructional systems technology from Indiana University and a professional certificate from Cornell University in project management.
Senior Instructional Designer
Benjamin Moss is an senior instructional designer in the Center for Teaching Innovation where he focuses on integrating media into classroom teaching. Prior to working at Cornell, Benjamin designed and created e-learning content for the California Digital Library and worked in educational technology at Yale University. In addition to these posts, he ran the library, designed curriculum, and taught for eight years at St. Luke’s School, an independent 5-12 school in Connecticut. He has also taught media studies at Colby Sawyer College in New Hampshire and film history at Menlo College in California. Benjamin has a bachelor’s from Trinity College, Connecticut and master’s degrees in library science, divinity, and media arts from the University of Pittsburgh, Yale University, and Hunter College, CUNY.