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Graduate Teaching Consultant Profiles

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Graduate Teaching Consultants 2020-2021



Caroline Ferguson

Caroline Ferguson is an interdisciplinary, community-engaged scholar and teacher. Her dissertation research in Palau examines diversity within fishing communities, exploring the themes of tradition, trade, resistance, and recovery with fisherwomen in particular. During her time at Stanford, she has co-taught three classes, including The Social Ocean: Human Dimensions of Marine and Coastal Systems and American Empire in the Pacific. She has also assisted with two field seminars, Conservation and Evolution in Galápagos and Coral Reef Science and Management in Palau. This fall, she will join the Cal State Monterey Bay faculty as a Lecturer for Social Science Research Methods in Environmental Studies. In her classes, she strives to teach students to think not only critically but also creatively, expanding and reimagining what is possible through community learning. Caroline is currently a PhD candidate in the Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources (E-IPER) at Stanford University. She holds her BA in Human Biology and her MS in Earth Systems, also from Stanford.


Taranee Cao standing behind a podium

Taranee Cao is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures. Growing up in Mainland China, she received a B.A. degree in Japanese Studies from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Before coming to Stanford, she did an M.A. in East Asian Studies in University of Pittsburgh. She has four quarters of TA experience teaching second-year Japanese Language classes, and she also taught intermediate Japanese conversation class in 2019 Fall. Enthusiastic in teaching, she is thrilled to join CTL teaching consultant team, ready to learn from other fabulous consultants and to share her understandings about teaching. Her current research focuses on Japanese youth language, and her previous projects cover themes such as language acquisition, Japanese onomatopoeia, honorific language, and pragmatics. Outside research, she enjoys practicing the piano, Aikido (Japanese martial arts), golf, and playing bridge games.



I am a PhD candidate in Sociology and a fellow in the Institute for Education Sciences (IES) through the Stanford Center for Education Policy and Analysis. I hold a B.S. in Mathematics and an M.Ed. in Educational Policy and Leadership. As an instructor, I am most excited about finding ways to meet the needs of diverse learners in my classroom. This continual creative problem-solving is challenging and fulfilling, interpersonally and intellectually. I have had the privilege of teaching in a number of different settings. Before coming to Stanford, I taught high school math in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. At Stanford, I have been a teaching assistant for both graduate and undergraduate statistics courses, as well as the co-instructor for a class on gender in the workplace through the Hope House Scholars Program. I also proposed, developed, and co-teach my department’s first “Statistics Bootcamp” to prepare incoming PhD students for the graduate methods sequence. In Summer 2019 I taught two courses I created: “Sociology of Silicon Valley” and “Policing in Society”. I am the recipient of the Sociology Department’s Cilker and Centennial Teaching Awards.


Nina Toft Djanegara

Nina Toft Djanegara is an anthropologist of science whose research uses ethnographic methods to better understand how technology is applied in political contexts and the social and political problems that technology attempts to solve. In particular, her research examines how facial recognition and biometric technology is applied in U.S. border management and law enforcement. She is interested in how these technologies mediate the way that knowledge about populations is produced and how these technologies extend bordering logics and practices beyond the territorial boundary line. Her approach to pedagogy emphasizes building critical analysis skills through the practice of writing and providing students with conceptual and methodological tools to process and describe their lived experiences in an academically rigorous fashion. In addition to teaching at Stanford, Nina is involved in pedagogical community service initiatives, such as various ESL and literacy projects for immigrants and refugees. Nina holds an M.Sc. in environmental science from Yale University and a B.A. in international development studies from the University of California, Berkeley.


Luz M. Jiménez Ruvalcaba

Luz M. Jiménez Ruvalcaba is a PhD candidate in the Program in Modern Thought and Literature; she also holds a PhD minor in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Her research investigates the cultural and historical preconditions that foster intimate violence. Specifically, she studies the ways in which domestic violence and sexual assault are represented in 20th Century and contemporary Latino literature. Luz hold a BA (summa cum laude) in English, Spanish, and Chicanx Studies from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. Prior to her graduate career at Stanford, she taught high school English and ESOL at Donna High School in Donna, Texas. In her instruction, Luz privileges rigor and authenticity. Luz is a Graduate Fellow in Residence at Casa Zapata, a VPGE EDGE Mentor, and a DARE Fellow. She was born in Tepatitlán, Jalisco, México and is a proud first generation student from Inglewood, CA.

AMY LYNNE JOHNSON (Graduate Teaching Consultant Coordinator)


I am a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology and have worked as a Teaching Assistant at Stanford University and Wellesley College, where I earned my BA in Sociology and Spanish. My approach to teaching stems from a determination to make what are often considered inaccessible concepts approachable for all students. Most often, I teach introductory statistics, where my pedagogy focuses on reducing math anxiety and building students’ confidence with both quantitative and coding skills. More broadly, my teaching philosophy is that every student should feel empowered to succeed and be given the tools to do so. I strive to use my teaching to build an inclusive learning environment for all students, to meet students where they are, and to combat the imposter syndrome that’s all too ubiquitous at Stanford. Outside the classroom, I extend my teaching practices to my work as a consultant with the library’s Social Science Data and Software (SSDS) program, where I help students, post-docs, faculty, and staff use statistical software in their own research. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with family and friends, drinking way too much coffee, and soaking up the California sunshine.


Kathryn Ledbetter

Kathryn Ledbetter is a PhD candidate in the Physics department. She has four quarters of TA experience at Stanford and received the Physics department's Paul H. Kirkpatrick Award in 2018. When she is not doing ultrafast chemistry research, she brings science to the public as a SLAC tour guide. 



Michelle is a fifth-year graduate student in the Biology program. In Tom Clandinin’s lab, she is studying visual processing in the fruit fly. In particular, she is fascinated by neural cell type diversity and the impact of that diversity on neural circuit function. In addition to research, Michelle is also interested in teaching and mentoring, and she is excited to continue exploring those interests as a Graduate Teaching Consultant. She has been a TA for Genetics (BIO 82) and Molecular and Cellular Neurobiology (BIO 154), and she has received the Excellence in Teaching Award from the Biology Department. She has also served on the committee for the Biology Department’s mentorship program for first-year graduate students. Outside of her graduate school work, Michelle enjoys cooking, learning new languages, and doing science outreach.


jem Jebbia

jem Jebbia is a PhD Candidate in Religious Studies at Stanford University. In her studies, jem focuses on race and immigration, interfaith communities, and material religion in California. Her dissertation focuses on community building across religious and racial lines in contemporary California. Other projects include an ethnographic study of the #TacoTrucksatEveryMosque Movement, the religious history of the "Happiest Place on Earth," and a pop-up exhibit called Golden State Sacred, depicting the religious history of California. At Stanford, jem has taught courses on early Christianity, religion and material culture, social engagement and justice, and is currently developing a course on religion in contemporary California. In her previous position, jem served as a dialogue facilitator and workshop developer for interfaith engagement and student leadership.




Max studies contemporary American popular culture, particularly focusing on popular music and visual media post-WWII. His current project traces alternate formulations of human and posthuman subjectivity forged at the intersection of music and technology in Black Atlantic culture. Methodologically, he draws on cultural studies, film/media theory, and sound studies. Other areas of interest include science fiction, critical theory, contemporary electronic music, and the digital humanities.


Kirstin Haag

I am a PhD candidate in Musicology with 8 years of TA and teaching experience. As an educator, I love connecting with students and finding ways of creating accessible, inclusive classrooms. I see each class as a unique opportunity to create a learning environment where every student can grow. This collaborative and creative approach is both challenging and fulfilling and informs my approach in every classroom. Before coming to Stanford, I taught high school math and theater in Nashville, Tennessee. At Stanford, I have been a teaching assistant for undergraduate music and French courses, as well as for a Bing Overseas Studies Program in Australia. I have also taught courses on music and society through the Stanford Prison Education Project. In 2019-20, I designed and taught two courses: “Live Listening Lab” and “Music History to 1600,” in addition to leading my department’s TA training course. I am the recipient of the Music Department’s Chair and Centennial Excellence-in-Teaching Awards.


Luke Williams

Luke Williams is a PhD candidate in the Program in Modern Thought and Literature as well as a PhD minor in Theater and Performance Studies. His research explores aesthetics and embodiment in the Black Diaspora. Specifically, Luke draws upon dance theory and practice to think about the racialization of modernity. Luke graduated Summa Cum Laude from the Political and Social Thought program at the University of Virginia, where he taught his first undergraduate course. In his teaching, Luke encourages critical thinking and generosity. At Stanford, Luke is also active in the Black Graduate Student Association, the Black Studies Collective, and in the VPGE EDGE Program. Luke was born in Stanford, California, but he grew up in Dallas, Texas.


Marianna Zhang

Marianna Zhang is a third-year PhD student in Psychology, working in the developmental psychology area. Her research focuses on how children learn about categories, particularly social categories such as gender and race, and the role that language plays in that process. Marianna is particularly interested in fostering diverse and inclusive learning environments, and was a 2019-20 Teaching Fellow in the Psych One Program. Prior to Stanford, she graduated from the University of Chicago in 2018 with a degree in psychology. She is originally from New York and enjoys caving and bargain-hunting.

ALEXA WNOROWSKI (Graduate Teaching Consultant Coordinator)


Alexa grew up by the beach in New Jersey with her two younger siblings. For her undergraduate degree, Alexa studied bioengineering at Cornell University. She is now pursuing a PhD in Bioengineering and an M.A. in Education. While at Stanford, Alexa has served as a TA for BIOE 300B, Quantitative Physiology, for three years, for which she received a BioE TA Award in 2019. She was also a TA for the Bioengineering Bootcamp, an eight-week biodesign summer program for high school students. Her main teaching interests include increasing diversity and inclusion in STEM classrooms and opening up a dialogue about mental health in classrooms and academic settings. For her research, Alexa works with Dr. Joseph Wu. Her primary research interests include cardiovascular disease modeling, vascular biology, and tissue engineering. Outside of teaching and research, Alexa loves to dance. She is a member of the Cardinal Ballet Company, and has performed in their productions of the Nutcracker and Don Quixote. Alexa also enjoys being involved in her residential community. She will be one of the Head Community Associates for Escondido Village graduate housing this year. Alexa is excited to serve as a Graduate Teaching Consultant Coordinator this year and looks forward to helping TAs across campus!


Nicholas Fenech

Nicholas Fenech is a PhD candidate in Comparative Literature, with a PhD minor in Classics. A scholar of Renaissance literature and drama, his experience in creating and teaching courses encompasses the span from classical antiquity through to the modernist era, including Shakespeare’s plays and their reception in transnational contexts.