Your browser is unsupported

We recommend using the latest version of IE11, Edge, Chrome, Firefox or Safari.

Photo of Sanders O’Leary, Erin

Erin Sanders O'Leary

Associate Professor and Executive Director of UIC’s Center for the Advancement of Teaching Excellence (CATE)

Associate Adjunct Professor, Microbiology & Immunology, College of Medicine

Biological Sciences / Microbiology & Immunology (College of Medicine)


Dr. Erin Sanders O’Leary is the Executive Director for UIC's Center for the Advancement of Teaching Excellence (CATE), an Associate Professor in Biological Sciences in UIC's College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, and an Associate Adjunct Professor in Microbiology & Immunology in UIC's College of Medicine.  In her capacity as the CATE Executive Director, she works in collaboration with faculty and administrative leadership across the campus to support innovation in instructional practices, to engage communities of practice in scholarly teaching, to create an ethos of inclusion across the teaching landscape, and to provide resources to inspire transformation of the teaching culture. Dr. O'Leary also serves as the Administrative Co-Leader for UIC’s Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning (CIRTL@UIC) program, which provides pedagogical training opportunities for UIC graduate students and postdocs in support of their academic career development.

Dr. O'Leary joined the UIC community on July 1, 2020, coming from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) where she served for six years as the founding Director of UCLA’s Center for Education Innovation & Learning in the Sciences (CEILS). As a faculty member in UCLA's Microbiology, Immunology, & Molecular Genetics Department and the Life Sciences Core Education Department, Dr. O'Leary dedicated more than 15 years to teaching undergraduate and graduate courses, experiences that shaped her approach to instructional development.

Dr. O'Leary earned her B.S. in Chemistry at DePaul University in Chicago and her Ph.D. in Biological Chemistry at UCLA in Los Angeles.

Selected Publications

(Complete list of publications on Google Scholar)

Sanders O’Leary E, Sayson HW, Shapiro C, Garfinkel A, Conley W, Levis-Fitzgerald M, Eagan MK, and Van Valkenburgh B (under revision, CBE-Life Sciences Education) Reimagining the Introductory Math Curriculum for Life Science Students.

Liu A, Shapiro C, Gregg J, Levis-Fitzgerald M, Sanders O’Leary E, and Kennison RL (under review, STEM Education section, Frontiers in Education) Scaling Up a Life Science College Career Exploration Course to Foster STEM Confidence and Career Self-Efficacy.

Sanders O’Leary E, Shapiro C, Toma, S, Levis-Fitzgerald M, Johnson J, and Sork VL (2020) Creating Inclusive Classrooms by Engaging STEM Faculty in Culturally Responsive Teaching Workshops. International Journal of STEM Education 7:32.

Lee CJ, Toven-Lindsey B*, Shapiro C, Soh M*, Mazrouee S*, Levis-Fitzgerald M, and Sanders ER (2018) Error-Discovery Learning Boosts Student Engagement and Performance, while Reducing Student Attrition in a Bioinformatics Course. CBE-Life Sciences Education 17(3): 1-13. DOI:10.1187/cbe.17-04-0061.

Stains M, Harshman J, Barker MK, Chasteen SV, Cole R, DeChenne-Peters SE, Eagan Jr. MK, Esson JM, Knight JK, Laski FA, Levis-Fitzgerald M, Lee CJ, Lo SM, McDonnell LM, McKay TA, Michelotti N, Musgrove A, Palmer MS, Plank KM, Rodela TM, Sanders ER, Schimpf NG, Schulte PM, Smith MK, Stetzer M, Van Valkenburgh B, Vinson E, Weir LK, Wendel PJ, Wheeler LB, and Young AM (2018) Anatomy of STEM Teaching in North American Universities. Science 359(6383): 1468-1470. DOI: 10.1126/science.aap8892.

Sellami N*, Shaked S, Laski F, Eagan MK, and Sanders ER (2017). Implementation of a Learning Assistants Program Improves Student Performance on Higher-Order Assessments. CBE-Life Sciences Education 16(4): ar62. DOI: 10.1187/cbe.16-12-0341.


Ph.D., University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), Los Angeles, CA, 2005

B.S., DePaul University, Chicago, IL, 1998