Advancing engineering education

Alexandra Werth
  • New Faculty Year: 2023

Alexandra Werth joined the Meinig School faculty in Fall 2023 as assistant professor in biomedical engineering education. Werth comes to Cornell from University of Colorado Boulder, where most recently she conducted postdoctoral research in physics education, focusing on the learning in undergraduate instructional labs. 

At Cornell, Werth’s research aims to enhance the effectiveness of engineering labs and authentic learning environments. Her primary research interests lie in the development of educational assessment instruments, exploration of innovative pedagogies, and studying the values held by engineers. Along these lines, Werth plans to investigate effective teamwork skills. 

“Collaboration is at the heart of engineering, with teamwork skills being a key goal for many engineering programs,” emphasizes Werth. “Yet, the lack of assessment instruments poses a pressing challenge for engineering instructors to effectively evaluate students’ development of these skills.”

Her work centers on developing an assessment tool using evidence-centered design, specifically tailored to evaluate teamwork outcomes in engineering labs. She plans to develop a centralized, automated system for administering and analyzing the assessment, making the tool widely-accessible for engineering instructors.

Hiring Werth is part of a growing university and college-wide strategic initiative to recruit and hire tenure-track faculty with scholarship in engineering education while also building a culture of teaching that uses deliberate, research-based methods to optimize learning outcomes. University hires along these lines have already occurred in physics and human ecology and in Cornell Engineering’s Smith School of Biomolecular Engineering. 

“I am excited to join the growing community of discipline-based education researchers at Cornell,” says Werth. “The whole idea behind discipline-based education is to blend the best practices of education with STEM methodologies. It’s a chance for Cornell to shake things up and use evidence-based approaches to re-engineer how we teach effectively and inclusively.”  

“Alex brings an important new dimension of educational scholarship to BME that will be wonderful to have represented and also builds discipline-based education research (DBER) in the college,” said Marjolein van der Meulen, James M. and Marsha McCormick Director of Biomedical Engineering; Swanson Professor of Biomedical Engineering. 

Werth holds dual bachelors degrees in engineering and physics from Swarthmore College (2014) and a Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering from Princeton University (2019). During her graduate studies, she worked to develop a non-invasive glucose monitor based on mid-infrared quantum cascade laser spectroscopy to help improve the quality of life and health of people suffering from diabetes. 

In her spare time, Werth likes to explore the outdoors and go hiking with her family and two dogs. “I cannot wait to check out the gorges and famous Ithaca trails,” shares Werth. 

For more on Werth’s research at Cornell, visit Alexandra Werth's faculty profile page.

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