Justin Shaffer

Fryrear Chair and Teaching Professor, Chemical and Biological Engineering

Justin ShafferAs a Teaching Professor, I aim to provide undergraduate students the best educational and classroom experience possible and to study how students learn science and engineering.

Everything that I do as a teacher all comes down to the fact that I want my students (and society as a whole for that matter) to appreciate, understand, and ultimately be excited about science and engineering. I believe that student excitement and engagement are the foundation for improving scientific literacy, building solid critical thinking and analysis skills, and preparing for successful scientific and engineering careers. For those students that already really like science and engineering, I want to cultivate their interests and help them prosper into the scientists, engineers, doctors, and researchers of tomorrow. I like to say that I know that won’t ever find a cure for cancer, but maybe I will inspire a student who will someday do just that.


235 Alderson Hall
1613 Illinois Street
Golden, CO 80401

Teaching Style

If you are a student in my classroom, I want you to leave every day saying “that was fun and I learned a lot!” I start every day with learning objectives, so that you know exactly what I want you to be able to do in the course. During class, you’ll be exposed to the course content through real-world situations that apply in some way to your daily lives so as to make the course material more relevant. You won’t just be sitting quietly and taking notes in my class either, I rarely lecture for more than five minutes at a time (and even when I do lecture it is more like a conversation than me speaking directly at you). Rather you will be actively engaged in the learning process and applying your knowledge by answering clicker questions, working with your classmates to brainstorm or solve problems, and analyzing data from scientific research articles. I do all of this for a reason, and that reason is that tons of research has shown that you will learn more if taught this way! I guarantee you’ll have at least a little bit of fun too!

Educational Research

In addition to using evidence-based principles when I teach, I am also interested in researching how students learn science. I am interested in assessing the efficacy of high structure teaching practices (involving pre-class assignments, in-class active learning, and weekly review assignments) in a variety of college science and engineering classes. I also focus on how engineering students’ view biology and how to address achievement gaps in first year science and engineering courses.

FAculty Professional DEvelopment

A major career goal of mine is to help faculty and future faculty (graduate students and postdocs) learn about evidence-based practices for improving student outcomes. I work with faculty and future faculty via workshops, learning communities, and in 1:1 partnerships to assist faculty with finding the ideal pedagogical strategies that meet their teaching styles and ultimately improve student learning and other outcomes. In particular, I focus on course and curriculum design, evidence-based teaching strategies, and discipline-based education research.


  • BS – Chemical Engineering – Penn State University
  • PhD – Bioengineering – University of Washington
  • Postdoc – SPIRE Postdoctoral Fellowship Program – University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Honors and Awards

  • Fryrear Chair for 2023 – 2026. Working to promote discipline-based education research (DBER). This will improve teaching and student outcomes and further strengthen Mines’ status as a top notch STEM education institution.

Professional Activites


Google Scholar Citations Page