Cheryl A. Olman

Associate Professor, Psychology

Cheryl Olman poses with brain diagrams and a pineapple.

A visionary educator, Cheryl Olman engages both students and the broader community.

 In her course on sensation and perception, students watch video clips of lectures, then use class time to experience demonstrations of illusions and other sensory phenomena discussed in the clips, debate controversial topics, and in general immerse themselves in the subject matter. After replacing the course textbook with free readings from the U’s digital archive, Olman arranged for students to earn extra credit by producing new visual content for the class.

An advocate for universal STEM learning, Olman created an after-school program at a local middle school. There, undergraduates explore how to improve equity and participation for underrepresented students in science as they mentor them on science fair projects. And Olman personally mentored six female Somali-American undergrads as they learned and applied Python programming to create an online, interactive graphic on schizophrenia.

I leverage technology to create self-paced learning environments where students can explore a concept and receive constructive feedback without worrying about always having the right answer.

In her hands-on course on fMRI, Olman’s students get a solid grounding in the physics of the technology, along with a format for simulations that allows “exploratory interaction rather than just canned exercises,” says a colleague. Her success shows up in energized students all around.

Besides STEM learning, Olman also promotes good writing.

“She did outstanding work that fundamentally changed our understanding of the role of writing within our undergraduate curriculum,” another colleague says.