The following provides some information about the Carleton College Biology Department hiring process, in particular what we are looking for in your application for a Faculty on Continuing Appointment (FOCA) position as Lab Coordinator for Biology 126, a course on Energy Flow in Biological systems. We have also included links to some useful resources. Please reach out to if you have additional questions.

Prior to applying for the position, we encourage applicants to review the structure and curriculum in our department. The primary responsibilities of this position will be in the role of Lab coordinator, Lab instructor (sample lab syllabus, sample long-term lab project), and Problem solving facilitator for BIOL 126. However, the faculty member will also occasionally teach labs in BIOL 125 and/or a course in their area of expertise.

The Application

The application requires submission of the following documents, which are described in more detail below: 1) a cover letter; 2) a curriculum vitae; 3) a statement about teaching in an undergraduate liberal arts environment (2-4 pages); and 4) After passing through an initial screening process, applicants may receive a request for the contact information for three references. Letters of recommendation and transcripts will be requested after our initial round of application review and must be received before we can extend an invitation for an on-campus interview.

1) Cover Letter and 2) Curriculum Vitae: In addition to discussing your interest in, and qualifications for, this position, your cover letter should discuss information about any prior teaching experiences that you have had. There are many ways to acquire teaching experience, including mentoring undergraduates and other graduate students, being a TA, etc. It is important to describe your previous experience in your cover letter and CV. In your cover letter please also mention any additional courses that you could envision contributing to the current curricular offerings in the department.

3) Statement about teaching in an undergraduate liberal arts environment and how you would contribute to a college community that embraces a diversity of people and perspectives as one of its core values: Your teaching statement is your opportunity to include discussion of your engagement with and efforts related to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in your work. While these ideas might permeate all areas of your work, this is a place where you can highlight your thoughts on these important topics and discuss how they inform your teaching.

4) Contact information for writers of three reference letters: It is important that you explain to those writing recommendation letters for you that you are applying for a position where lab teaching experience is important, so that they can comment on your strengths as a teacher. Letters will be requested after our initial round of application review and must be received before we can extend an invitation for an on-campus interview, so please make your recommenders aware that they should submit their letters as soon as possible after receiving the request.

Graduate transcripts: Transcripts will be requested after interviews have concluded and before we make the hire. Unofficial transcripts are acceptable. If they are not in English, please provide officially translated versions.

Zoom Interview

From our pool of applicants, a subset is being selected for an initial Zoom interview with the Department Chair, Raka Mitra, and several members of the Biology faculty and staff. These conversations will be an opportunity for us to learn more about the candidate’s experiences and teaching plans with undergraduates, as well as for the candidates to find out more about our program and community.

The interviews will be guided by the following questions. We may provide additional questions to candidates before the zoom interviews. It is likely that we will also ask follow-up questions not specifically listed here:

  1. What do you find most exciting about the possibility of working at Carleton College? How have your previous experiences contributed to your interest in this position?
  2. Carleton is an institution that puts a high premium on teaching both in the classroom and the laboratory. What is your experience running a teaching laboratory? What inquiry-based lab modules would you suggest for inclusion in an introductory biology lab on energy flow in biological systems?
  3. If you have the opportunity to teach another course, what sort of courses would you hope to teach here, and how do those relate to your previous experiences in biology?
  4. What strategies do you plan to use for teaching and mentoring a broadly diverse group of students with different backgrounds, preparation, and experiences in biology? Are there prior experiences that have shaped the way you think about supporting a diverse set of learners?
  5. What questions do you have about Carleton?

On-Campus Interview

Visits include conversations and meals with students, faculty, and staff in the department and a teaching seminar.

The interview includes a 55 minute teaching demonstration. We would like you to Imagine that you’re developing a multi-week lab activity for BIOL126.  We currently do this with the Manduca project (see sample syllabus), and encourage you to choose a different system with which you are very familiar.  This project generally is part of all 9 lab sessions over the term. Labs are once a week for 4 hours. It is not uncommon for students to take time outside of the lab period to do work. 

Below are some learning objectives we prioritze in this lab exercise:

  • Student development of a research question and experiment to test that question
  • Principles of experimental design
  • Collection of data with attention to detail
  • Making figures and basic statistical analysis
  • Placing research in the context of established literature 

In your teaching demonstration, we would like you to:

  1. Introduce the lab project that you have developed (this should be aimed as though you are teaching students in the lab).
  2. Explain the learning objectives and outcomes that students will complete in this project
  3. Include instructions students would need to complete the work on the first day of lab.

Candidates will receive information about the size of the class, the expected knowledge base of students taking the class, and room/equipment specifications one week before their interview. Candidates are encouraged to teach as if this was their own classroom. The audience will consist of faculty, staff and students.

Finally, the interview includes time for meetings with faculty and staff in the biology department and the Provost, Michelle Mattson. The candidates also have time available in their schedule for a limited number of meetings outside the biology department, based on their interests. These could include faculty in other departments with overlapping teaching/research interests, technical staff (e.g., the Biology stockroom manager), key people involved in faculty support (from the Learning and Teaching Center), staff involved in student support roles (e.g., our quantitative resource center director or the TRIO program director), or anyone else they might find interesting and helpful (e.g., faculty or staff outside Biology who can provide different perspectives on the Carleton community or life in Northfield or the Twin Cities).