FAST - Future Academic Scholars in Teaching
FAST Fellows Biographies
2013-2014 FAST Fellows
Niroj Aryal is a dual major Ph. D. candidate in department of Biosystems Engineering and Agricultural Engineering, and Civil and Environmental Engineering. He received MS in Biosystems Engineering from MSU in 2010. His research interests are in areas of emerging pollutants, environmental remediation, and water quality. Niroj’s dissertation research focuses on development of sustainable technology for food processing wastewater treatment using poplar plantations. He also is keenly interested in novel instructional techniques in classroom to enhance student learning. As a FAST fellow in 2012/13, Niroj evaluated perception of students towards flipped classrooms and their performance in an upper level undergraduate engineering course. In 2013/14, Niroj is looking at enhancing student accountability in out-of-class activities, such as preassignments.
Cynthia Balthazar is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Community Sustainability; she is focusing on program planning and evaluation and international community development. This academic year, she received the Milton H. Steinmueller Fellowship and through the fellowship, assisted in teaching a Program Planning and Evaluation course in her department. Broadly, her research interests are in planning and evaluation of international education and development programs. Her undergraduate background is in mathematics, chemistry and education. She has taught in public schools, community colleges and the university and have spent some time home-schooling her children. With this wide array of educational experiences, and her current position as a part –time mathematics teacher with the Lansing Public schools (grades 7 and 12), another interest is in the education American children are getting as it prepares them for their post-secondary plans; as it ranks in the global arena; and how colleges and universities can help effect change to decrease the gap in knowledge that forces students to spend their first years in the university taking remediation courses.
Justin Beauchamp is a sixth year Cell and Mollecular Biology doctoral candidate working in Claire Vieille’s lab at Michigan State University. He graduated with a B.A. in Chemistry and Mollecular Biology/Biochemistry from Goshen College. He is currently a GAANN fellow as part of the Interdisciplinary Bioelectronics Training Program. Justin’s research focuses on developing a bioelectronics interface that will allow dehydrogenase enzymes to be used as catalysts with electrochemical cofactor regeneration. He is primarily studying Thermotoga maritima glycerol dehydrogenase which can be used to produce dihydroxyacetone from glycerol. He is studying the enzymes properties and developing methods for cofactor and enzyme immobilization. As a FAST fellow, he is interested in studying how the introvert/extrovert personality traits affect student participation and homework completion.
Alita Burmeister grew up in Wisconsin, where she earned her B.S. in bacteriology and worked as a microbiologist in the cheese industry. She moved to Michigan State University to study the basic facets of coevolution of bacterial cells and their viruses. Using experimental evolution, her primary research interests include how coevolution yields diversity and life history trait evolution. Alita teaches a microbial genetics laboratory for undergrads, where she is integrating evolutionary thinking into the curriculum and developing tools to teach applications of evolutionary biology. Alita is a third-year graduate student in the Department of Microbiology & Molecular Genetics and the Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, & Behavior Program.
Tom Finzell is a third year Ph.D. student in the Astronomy department at Michigan State University. He received his undergraduate degree in both Physics and Astronomy from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is currently studying a type of explosive event known as a nova, which are the slightly less energetic (though more common) version of a supernova. Nova events fall under the category of transients, meaning that each event is exceptionally bright and they can only be studied for a brief period of time before fading away. In terms of teaching and the FAST Fellowship, Tom is interested in how students understand physics specific words and terms, the effect of social interactions in peer learning situations, and preconceived notions students have regarding physics.
Adam Fritsch is a fifth year Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Michigan State University. He received his B.A. degree in Physics from Wabash College. At MSU, he is a research assistant in experimental nuclear physics at the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory, and has collaborated with other institutions and laboratories including the University of Notre Dame and Argonne National Laboratory. Adam's dissertation research investigates the cluster structure of Carbon-14 by way of a 40 MeV Beryllium-10 beam incident on Helium-4. As a FAST fellow, Adam will look at how methods for teaching introductory undergraduate physics, on which there is much research, may differ from the best methods for teaching advanced undergraduate studies in physics and for general physics educational outreach.
Indumathy (Indu) Jayamani is a fourth year Ph.D. student in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. She received her M.S in Civil and Environmental Engineering from MSU in 2009. Her research interests are in bioremediation of recalcitrant and emerging contaminants and the application of molecular biology tools in laboratory and field studies for remediation. Indu’s dissertation focuses on using a molecular tool ‘Stable Isotope Probing’ to identify microorganisms involved in bioremediation of BTEX and RDX in laboratory microcosms. From a teaching perspective, she is interested in designing and using effective assessments as a teaching and learning tool. She is also interested in identifying best teaching and learning methods from her student and teaching experience to improve learning via metacognition.
Cory Kohn is a third year Ph.D. student in the Department of Zoology and in the Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior graduate program, and a member of the BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action. He earned a B.S. in Ecology and Evolution, and a B.A. in History and Philosophy of Science and in Anthropology from the University of Pittsburgh. Cory is an evolutionary biologist whose dissertation work focuses on exploring the utility of non-biological evolving systems in investigating population differentiation. Specifically, he uses digitally evolving populations to construct known evolutionary histories from which to test the conditional ability of historical inference methodologies, i.e. phylogenetics. As an instructor in evolutionary biology, he acknowledges the unique challenges regarding students' conceptual understanding within his field. As a FAST Fellow, Cory would like to examine whether instruction in the science is sufficient in resolving misconceptions or if those preconceived ideas should be addressed directly.
Isis Kuczaj is a fifth year Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife and in the Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior Program at Michigan State University. Additionally, she is enrolled in the Disease Ecology and Conservation Medicine doctoral specialization, and a Certificate in College Teaching. Isis’ primary research intertwines behavioral and disease ecology by examining how variation in vector behavior contributes to the epidemiology of Lyme disease in the eastern United States. As a FAST fellow, Isis is interested in identifying and developing effective methods to motivate student learning. To do this, she would like to assess student attitudes and understanding of the learning objectives for a module designed to educate students about the interdependence of ecosystems and human health.
Jonathan Markey is a third year Ph.D. student in the Department of Plant Biology. As a recipient of the Award for Excellence Scholarship, he earned his B.S. degree in Chemistry, with a minor in Biology, from Saginaw Valley State University. He earned an M.S. degree in Pharmacology from the University of Vermont’s College of Medicine, where he worked in the lab of Dr. Anthony Morielli studying the regulation of voltage gated potassium channels. His thesis work was featured in a 2007 article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. Currently a graduate student in the Ebert-May lab at MSU, Jonathan’s interests lie in the area of discipline-based education research. His current dissertation research involves developing and validating an instrument to measure the pedagogical content knowledge of post-secondary instructors in the context of selected genetics and molecular biology topics. As a FAST fellow, Jonathan is interested in studying students’ alternative conceptions of selected genetics and molecular biology concepts.
Julie Plasencia is a third year Ph.D. student in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition. She received her MS in Human Nutrition from MSU in 2008 and subsequently obtained the registered dietitian credential. Prior to returning for her Ph.D., Julie worked as a clinical dietitian, in-patient and outpatient diabetes educator and as an Extension nutrition specialist, developing community nutrition programs for the Hispanic community in Las Vegas, NV. Her research and practice interests are diabetes and chronic disease, diabetes self-management education and reducing health disparities through nutrition education, with a special interest in Hispanic/Latino populations. As a FAST fellow, Julie is interested in assessment of cultural competency skills in students who intend to work in health care professions, specifically nutrition and dietetics.
Eileen S. Rodriguez-Tapia is a fifth year graduate student in the Neuroscience Program. She received her B.A. in Biology from University of Puerto Rico at Cayey Campus. Her dissertation research focuses on understanding the functional relevance of voltage-gated calcium channels in the regulation of gut motility. Her teaching as research project will focus on identifying the most common misconceptions that science students hold and investigate how two different teaching styles change those misconceptions. Completion of these studies will allow her determine which instruction method is more effective and potentially target the features making it successful. Her long-term goal is to become a well-rounded professor and as such she wants her students to see the learning process as an exciting and productive one. She sees the FAST Program as the perfect track to master the skills that will allow her to become the teacher the science education world is expecting.
Trisha A. Smrecak is a third year Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Geological Sciences. She received her BS in Geology at St. Lawrence University, an M.S. in Geology at the University of Cincinnati. Prior to starting her dissertation work at MSU, she worked for three years at the Paleontological Research Institution in Ithaca, NY. Her research focuses on encrusting marine invertebrate fossils and how they responded to changes in environmental conditions through time. She has over five years of experience teaching various courses as a teaching assistant and an adjunct instructor. Trisha is particularly interested in the intersection of formal and informal education and how college students can benefit from informal learning environments like museums and field sites. As a FAST Fellow, she will explore these boundaries by studying the impact of museum exhibits on college- aged learners.
Neil White is a fourth year Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. He is from Michigan and received his B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Michigan State University. His dissertation research is on thermodynamics, kinetics, and dynamics of ribozymes (RNA enzymes). Neil has been a TA for MSU multiple times and mentored students in the research lab he is in. These enriching experiences have left him with questions he wishes to explore as a FAST fellow. His teaching as research project will focus on student and teacher reflections on metacognition to enhance teaching and learning via improved selection and implementation of methodology.
2012-2013 FAST Fellows
Niroj Aryal is a third year dual major Ph. D. student in department of Biosystems Engineering and Agricultural Engineering, and Civil and Environmental Engineering. He received MS in Biosystems Engineering from MSU in 2010. His research interests are in areas of emerging pollutants, environmental remediation, and water quality. He also has keen interest in sustainable development and climate change education. Niroj’s dissertation research focuses on development of sustainable technology for food processing wastewater treatment using poplar plantations. As a FAST Fellow, he wants to evaluate different forms of pre-assignment and its role in improving student’s learning.
Felix Cheung is a third year Ph.D. student in the Department of Psychology at Michigan State University. He received his B.A. in Psychology from University of California, Los Angeles. Felix’s research focuses on the causes and consequences of subjective well-being, with an interest in how economic factors (e.g., personal income, state-level income inequality, etc.) predict life satisfaction. He is currently studying the extent to which the recent economic recession is associated with changes in life satisfaction in the US. As a FAST fellow, Felix is interested in improving assessment methodology such that tests not only measure students’ knowledge, but also promote students’ long term memory of the course materials. Felix is also an avid amateur photographer.
Hongli Gao is a fourth year Ph.D. candidate at the Department of Mathematics at Michigan State University. Hongli is originally from China where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics and Master in Operational Research and Control Theory from Jilin University. Her research focuses on the Partial Differential Equations (PDE) and Calculus of Variations. Hongli has three years’ experience in teaching and she is also a supervisor of Math Learning Center (MLC) at MSU. She has a great passion in teaching and her career goal is to teach at an undergraduate focused college. As a FAST Fellow, she is interested in investigating ways to motivate students in a math class and also to help them improve their grades.
Ryan Gunderson is a second year doctoral student in Sociology at Michigan State University. He received his M.A. at the University of Wyoming in 2011 where he researched the social, environmental, and animal welfare consequences of intensive, mechanized, large-scale livestock production. His research and teaching interests broadly include environmental sociology, social theory, animal studies, and political economy.
Hovig Kouyoumdjian is a fifth year bio-organic chemistry Ph.D. candidate at Michigan State University. He earned an M.S. in atmospheric-analytical chemistry from the American University of Beirut. His dissertation research focuses on early detection of Alzheimer’s Disease, using glycol-conjugated super paramagnetic Iron-oxide nanoparticles via Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). He has been instructing college-chemistry classes and labs since 2003, and as a FAST fellow would like to answer some of the accumulated questions that had developed throughout his teaching years. He is interested in exploring the aspects of utilizing audiovisual techniques or technologies to enhance teaching effectiveness and to assess students’ learning of chemistry.
Abigail (Abby) Lynch is a University Distinguished Fellow and a member of the Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability within the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at Michigan State University. Abigail is currently a fourth year doctoral student with a dual major in Fisheries and Wildlife and Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior. Additionally, she is enrolled in the Environmental Science and Policy doctoral specialization, and a Certificate in College Teaching. Abigail’s primary research interests focus on linking fish conservation and management with human systems. Her dissertation research examines the impact of climate change on harvest management of Great Lakes lake whitefish, the largest commercial fishery in the upper Great Lakes. Abigail wants to educate students in the application and power of the scientific method rather than just scientific “facts.” She has a strong commitment to interdisciplinary approaches and policy-relevant research and believes that active communication between the student and the professor is necessary to achieve the impact desired.
Lisa Rebenitsch is a fourth year Ph.D. student in computer science with a primary interest in virtual environments. She is interested in most aspects of virtual environments, but have particular interest in the effects on the participant physically. She hopes to create guidelines on how long people can stay in these systems safely. Her teaching interests lie in the effect of teaching methods on individual students within the class improvement as a whole in order to enhance the teaching method. To do this she also wants to consider how group projects help people learn and how to improve them by considering the amount learn by the individual in these groups.
Sumathi Venkatesh is a third year Ph.D candidate in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at Michigan State University. Sumathi received her B.S. in Nutrition and Dietetics from Madras University of India and her M.S. in Human Nutrition from Michigan State University. Sumathi’s dissertation research focuses on developing and validating a scale to assess the dietary acculturation of Asian Indian immigrants. Dietary behaviors of immigrants and ethnic minorities have always been a fascinating topic to her, which she believes to continue in the future. Sumathi is a member of various professional organizations and has received several scholarships. At Michigan State University, she has served as a graduate assistant with both teaching and research responsibilities. Sumathi is interested in the assessment of student learning and in developing instructional methods to enhance critical thinking and technical writing skills of college students.
Emily Weigel is a third year Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Zoology and in the Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior Program at Michigan State University. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Biology with a focus on interdisciplinary research from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Emily has since taken her passion of working interdisciplinary to her work at MSU in association with the BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action. Emily's dissertation research combines sexual selection in three-spine stickleback with that in digital organisms. She seeks to understand how female choice and investment interact with male mating strategies within stickleback, and to determine, using digital organisms, how generalizable stickleback evolutionary patterns are to other species. As a FAST fellow, Emily is interested in quantifying how and why a background in genetics affects student comprehension of topics in evolutionary biology.
Cameron Thomas Whitley is a doctoral student in Sociology with specializations in Animal Studies, Environmental Science and Policy (ESPP) and Gender, Justice and Environmental Change (GJEC). He grew up in Colorado and completed his BA in Sociology from the University of Colorado at Boulder (2005) and his MA in Sociology from Michigan State University (2009). Cameron is an environmental sociologist with a particular interest in applying interdisciplinary approaches to address social problems and issues of environmental justice. Much of his work centers on climate change, natural resource extraction and conservation, and human-animal relationships. His recent work has addressed the intersection of animal production, legislation and violence/cruelty/crime; the structural drivers of greenhouse gas emissions; and the use of animal images to convey climate-change messages. Cameron is currently engaged in research addressing energy extraction, policy and environmental justice in the hydraulic fracturing debate. In addition to environmental sociology, Cameron is interested in teaching as research and has examined how image-based assignments can improve student achievement and satisfaction. Along these lines, he is a FAST Fellow for 2011-present and was invited to participant at the Socio-environmental Synthesis Education Workshop in May 2012 presented by the National Science Foundation-funded National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center.
2011-2012 FAST Fellows
David Achila is a sixth year Ph.D. candidate at the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular biology at Michigan State University. David is originally from Kenya where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry and Chemistry from Egerton University. He subsequently moved to Western Michgan University where he graduated with a Masters degree in Chemistry before joining Michigan State University. His dissertation research focuses on the molecular mechanisms of immune system evasion by pathogens. Other research activities he has participated in at Michigan State involved probing the function of small GTPases in ribosome biogenesis in gram positive bacteria. As a FAST fellow, he is interested in investigating the use of technology to enhance teacher-student interaction, improve students engagement and learning.
Nick Ballew is a fourth year Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Zoology and in the Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior Program at Michigan State University. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences from Louisiana State University. Nick’s dissertation research focuses on the ecological consequences of personality in largemouth bass. He seeks to understand how boldness and aggression impact reproductive success in non-fished bass populations and if the relationship between these behaviors and reproductive success is altered by fishing during the bass nesting season. As a FAST fellow, Nick is interested in learning new instructional techniques in the sciences and ways to assess student learning.
Wenning Feng is a third year Ph.D. student in the Department of Statistics and Probability at Michigan State University. He received his B.S. in Statistics from University of Science and Technology of China in 2008 and his M.S. in Statistics from Michigan State University in 2010. His research topics focus on the development of Statistical methodology of spatial data. During his Ph.D. study at Michigan State University, Wenning has two years’ experience in teaching, both in recitation and independently, for which he received a William L. Harkness Student Teaching Award from the Department of Statistics and Probability, and a half year’s experience in Consulting for statistical practices in the Center for Statistical Training and Consulting (CSTAT). Wenning’s teaching-as-research interest is to study the contribution of the application-driven method to the general statistical education of the introductory level for the undergraduate students, compared to the theory-driven method.
Emily Norton Henry is a fifth year Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, the Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior Program and the Environmental Science and Policy Program at Michigan State University. She earned a Bachelors of Science in Biology/Ecology at Purdue University. Prior to starting her doctoral studies at MSU, Emily worked for nearly three years for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. Her dissertation research focuses on the effects of shoreline development on Michigan inland lake biota, particularly the effects on movement and habitat use in two native turtle species. As a FAST fellow, Emily is interested in learning new instructional methods, assessment techniques, and ways to motivate students and improve student attitudes toward biology.
Jasmina Jakupovic is a fifth year Ph.D. student in the Neuroscience Program. She received her BA in Biology with Specialization in Neuroscience in 2007 from Boston University. Her research looks at the effects of probiotics on gut pain and motility with focus on an animal model of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. As part of the FAST Fellowship Program she would like to learn how to adapt her teaching methods to the needs of different students, class sizes, subjects and modes of delivery. In particular, she is interested in comparing the effectiveness of online learning to in-class learning.
LeighAnn Jordan is a third year graduate student in the Department of Chemistry. She received her B.S. in Biochemistry from Westminster College in New Wilmington Pennsylvania. Her research focuses on the characterization and analysis of mesenteric vessels from gastric-bypass patients. Her teaching as research project will focus on general chemistry recitations: how to improve these supplemental classes by analyzing worksheets, structure, material covered, TA presence and professor involvement. She hopes to not only become a professor but a mentor that inspires lifelong learners. Through teaching as research, she hopes to continue on her journey towards her career goals. A few of those goals are to show that chemistry is relevant to all majors, motivate even the most unlikely students, and teach for understanding.
Jennifer Rebecca Kelly studies environmental sociology focusing on the relationship that humans have with the living world. With an interdisciplinary background her scholarship and views on the nature society divide have embraced a holistic approach. As such, her interests have taken on an experiential dimension, that is, where nature and wildlife interface most vividly with humans. This is revealed in a broad range of areas including: perceptions of wildlife, the question of hunting, an individual’s encounter with the portrait of a wild animal, and the role of experiential education centered on the student immersion into a natural environment. Her time as a FAST fellow will involve assessing a Climate Change and Society course using a modified version of the How People Learn pedagogical model. She holds a BA in Communication and a MS in Environmental Science and Policy.
Amanda Malefyt is a fifth year Ph.D. student in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science with a research focus on biomolecular engineering of therapeutics. She received her bachelor's degree in Chemical Engineering from Tri-State (now Trine) University in Angola, IN. After working in the pharmaceutical industry for three years as a process engineer, she decided to return to school to pursue her Ph.D. with the final goal of teaching at a small, undergraduate focused college. Through the FAST program, Amanda hopes to develop methods for creating classroom environments in which students are continually motivated and engaged in applying new ideas toward solving current engineering challenges.
Lisa Rebenitsch is a third year Ph.D. student in computer science with a primary interest in virtual environments. She is interested in most aspects of virtual environments, but have particular interest in nontraditional interfaces to these systems. Traditional interfaces use 3D mice, head tracking, and keyboards. However, the interface channels she is considering are mostly based on human electrical signals such as the electrical activity in muscular movement. These interfaces can be conscious (e.g. typing or navigation) or unconscious (e.g. adjusting the interface in reference to stress/cybersickness levels). Her teaching interests lie in the effect of teaching methods on individual students within the class improvement as a whole in order to enhance the teaching method.
Mark Tran is a fourth year Ph.D. student in the Department of Zoology and the Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior program at Michigan State University. He received his Bachelors of Science in Biology at the State University of New York-Plattsburgh in 2008. His research interests are in the fields of Animal Behavior, Ecology, and Physiology. Mark’s dissertation research focuses on the use of chemical foraging cues by marine crustaceans with emphasis on the roles that physiology and ecology play in shaping which chemical cues are used by foraging animals to locate food resources. As a FAST fellow, he is interested in learning new methods of student assessment in the biological sciences, as well as researching the effectiveness of current assessment methods as part of his teaching-as-research project.
Chris Richardson is a fourth year Ph.D. student in Astrophysics at Michigan State University. He received his Bachelor of Science degrees in Physics and Applied Physics from Eastern Illinois University. He is currently performing plasma simulations in various astrophysical environments, in particular, the Crab Nebula and exotic objects known as Quasars. Aside from theoretical astrophysics, Chris is also interested in gender differences in physics and astronomy. In the classroom, he is interested in learning ways to keep advanced students challenged while simultaneously helping those who are falling behind.
*Participated in the CIRTL (Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning) Exchange Program.
Kathy Walsh is a fifth year Ph.D. student in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Michigan State University in the subfield of experimental condensed matter physics, and she is currently a fellow in the Interdisciplinary Training Program in Bioelectronics. She earned a B.S. in Physics from Wichita State University in Wichita, Kansas in 2007 and an M.S. in Physics from MSU in 2009. Her research is aimed at measuring electrical transport properties of protein nanowires expressed by Geobacter sulfurreducens, which is tied into a long-term research interest in (bio-)remediation of toxic wastes, particularly from defense-related sites. From a teaching perspective, she is interested in leveling the metaphorical playing field for under-prepared students in introductory physics classes and in teaching effectively in classroom settings which include both traditional and returning adult students.
Cameron Thomas Whitley grew up in Colorado and graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2005 with a degree in Sociology and a minor in Ethnic Studies. Between graduating in 2005 and entering MSU in the fall of 2009, Cameron spent time engaged in HIV/AIDS prevention and education in the Virgin Islands and working as a financial officer in New York City. Cameron’s past research has focused largely on the intersections of sex, gender and sexuality; however his current interests are in environmental sociology, specifically regarding social attitudes around climate change, water quality and conservation, social movements and the social and political positioning of animals for corporate gain. Cameron also has a passion for research related to teaching and learning. When not engaged in research or teaching, Cameron enjoys being outdoors, photography, daily yoga, exploratory creative writing, social activism, chai tea lattes, and traveling around the world with his wife and thirteen year old yorkie named Pal.
2010-2011 FAST Fellows
Elizabeth Brisco (Beth) is a fourth year Ph.D. student in the interdepartmental Plant Breeding, Genetics and Biotechnology Program within the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences at Michigan State University. She received her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of British Columbia and her Master of Biotechnology degree from the University of Toronto. Beth worked for nearly four years in the field of policy and regulation in the agriculture biotechnology sector before commencing her doctoral studies. Her current thesis research focuses on the genetics of resistance in dry beans to a commercially damaging insect pest in Michigan. Her teaching research interests lie in the use of active learning strategies to communicate abstract concepts in teaching plant genetics.
Paulo Pires is a second year graduate student in the Pharmacology and Toxicology Program. He received his bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences from the Sao Paulo State University in Brazil, and his Master’s degree in Cell Biology from the Campinas State University, also in Brazil. After moving to the United Stated in 2007, he worked in the field of hypertension for almost 2 years before joining the PhD program. His doctoral studies are focused on the role of hypertension in structural alterations in the vasculature, and how they correlate with ischemic stroke risk. His teaching research interest lies in assessment of online learning.
Lissy Goralnik is a fourth year Ph.D. student in the Department of Fisheries in Wildlife with a focus on environmental ethics, nature writing, and experiential education. She came to MSU after receiving her MFA in creative writing from the University of Idaho, where she taught composition and creative writing, and with a lot of fieldwork as an outdoor and environmental educator for extended wilderness courses, where she teaches natural history, wilderness ethics, and backcountry travel. Her work at Michigan State seeks to bring these two worlds together—the intellectual and pragmatic, the humanities and sciences, the physical and theoretical—in an effort to enable a broad approach to environmental learning. She is interested in experiential environmental humanities learning at the college level and the role of care and an emotional connection to coursework as a means to stimulate engagement with environmental learning. Her FAST project will assess students’ written reflections from an experiential philosophy course she teaches on Isle Royale National Park to understand the impact of a pedagogy of care on student affective learning and relationship-building with the human and natural communities.
Ryan Maloney is a fourth year Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Structural Engineering from the University of California - San Diego, and came to Michigan State University with the goal of becoming a university professor in a more hands-on subject. His discipline research focuses on highly porous aerogel materials for thermal insulation and energy storage, which an emphasis on the materials needed for a sustainable society. His teaching research interests tend to focus on developing and evaluating methods for more efficient use of study time both inside and outside the classroom. Throughout his education Ryan has had a mixture of both excellent and less-than-stellar professors, and it is the former group to which he strives to belong.
Brenda Marie Marrero-Rosado is a fifth year Genetics graduate student at Michigan State University. She was born and raised in Puerto Rico, and received a B.S. in Biology from the University of Puerto Rico in 2006. Her dissertation project seeks to further understand genotype/environment interactions by studying the effects of methylmercury in two mouse models of neuronal calcium channelopathies: the tottering and lethargic mice. Teaching is her passion. She believes the best way she can benefit students is by acquiring the skills to improve her teaching abilities; the FAST program will help her achieve her goal of becoming a better, more effective teacher. She is especially interested in studying how she can positively influence students' study habits and keep them motivated to also learn outside the classroom.
Nicole Nichol is a fifth year graduate student in the interdepartmental program Plant Breeding, Genetics, and Biotechnology within the department of Crop and Soil Science at Michigan State University. She received her Bachelor’s of Science in Biology from Saint Mary’s College (Notre Dame, Indiana). Her research is focused on genetically modifying potato varieties for drought tolerance. Her teaching research focuses on the diversity in the classroom. She wants to investigate how students and instructors perceive and interact with the diversity that is present, and ultimately how it impacts the students’ ability to learn.
Chris Richardson is a third year Ph.D. student in Astrophysics at Michigan State University. He received his Bachelor of Science degrees in Physics and Applied Physics from Eastern Illinois University. He is currently researching the morphology of laminar flame fronts at low densities in type Ia supernovae. Using simple analytical models and reaction network calculations, he is determining the density at which the laminar flame speed and width become solely dependent on carbon burning. Aside from theoretical astrophysics, Chris is also interested gender differences in physics and astronomy and incorporating interactive learning in the classroom.
*Participated in the CIRTL (Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning) Exchange Program.
Allison Rober is a fifth year Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Zoology, the Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior Program and the Environmental Science and Policy Program at Michigan State University. She earned a Bachelors of Science in Environmental Biology/Zoology at Michigan State University. Allison’s dissertation research focuses on the role of both biotic and abiotic factors in regulating benthic algal communities in northern latitude wetlands and how these factors will likely be influenced by climate change processes. Allison is interested in environmental education and the application of basic ecological concepts to understand complex problems related to restoration, environmental policy and management. As a FAST fellow, Allison is interested in learning new instructional techniques and ways to assess student learning.
*Participated in the CIRTL (Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning) Exchange Program.
Mamta Vardhan is an Environment Science and Policy Fellow and a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of CARRS. She is currently writing her dissertation entitled, “Incentives based approaches to forest conservation: Implications for gender and collective action” based on her field research in the Uluguru Mountains in Tanzania. Her research examines the social and gendered claims on local resources (such as land) brought on as a result of new market-based approaches to conservation that have gained ground as a tool for landscape conservation in the tropics. She examines the inter-linkages and dynamics of these local changes in context of global conservation policies from an interdisciplinary perspective drawing upon participatory and mixed-methods approaches. Prior to coming to graduate school, Mamta worked for seven years with a grassroots NGO in rural India on community based natural resource management projects. She is interested in pursuing an academic career that combines teaching with interdisciplinary and applied research. As a FAST fellow, Mamta is interested in exploring how life-experiences and engagement facilitate scholarship and learning in classroom settings, and the pedagogical approaches that support this kind of learning.
2009-2010 FAST Fellows
Elizabeth Brisco (Beth) is a third year Ph.D. student in the interdepartmental Plant Breeding, Genetics and Biotechnology Program within the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences at Michigan State University. She received her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of British Columbia and her Master of Biotechnology degree from the University of Toronto. Beth worked for nearly 4 years in the field of policy and regulation in the agriculture biotechnology sector before commencing her doctoral studies. Her current thesis research focuses on the genetics of resistance in dry beans to a commercially damaging insect pest in Michigan. Her teaching research interests lie in determining effective communication strategies to facilitate learning in the classroom.
Chieh Chen is a fourth year graduate student in the Department of Psychology, Behavioral Neuroscience program, at Michigan State University. Interested in mental disorders, her research seeks to understand the role that sex hormones play in the etiology of these ailments. More specifically, she uses a conditional knock-out mouse model to decipher the effects of androgen and androgen receptor manipulation on anxiety-related behavior and their modes of action in the brain. She has lived and received education in different countries. Therefore, her interest in participating in the FAST Program stems from her desire to learn and develop a teaching style that will encourage critical scientific thinking among students from different backgrounds.
Malia Dong is a fourth year Ph.D. candidate in the Plant Research Labs and Plant biology Department. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from Willamette University (Salem, Oregon). She is interested in signal transduction pathways responding to plant abiotic stress and her undergraduate thesis examined the role of the plant hormone, auxin, in heat tolerance. She is currently researching the role of the circadian clock in plant freezing tolerance. She hopes that the FAST fellowship will make her more effective in teaching critical thinking and problem solving in both lecture and lab settings.
*Participated in the CIRTL (Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning) Exchange Program.
Lissy Goralnik is a third year Ph.D. student in the Department of Fisheries in Wildlife with a focus on environmental ethics, nature writing, and experiential education. She came to MSU after receiving her M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Idaho, where she taught composition and creative writing, and with lots of fieldwork as an outdoor and environmental educator for extended wilderness courses, where she teaches natural history, wilderness ethics, and backcountry travel. Her work at Michigan State seeks to bring these two worlds together—the intellectual and the pragmatic, the humanities and the sciences, the physical and the theoretical—in an effort to enable a broad approach to environmental learning. She is interested in experiential environmental humanities learning at the college level and the role of care and an emotional connection to coursework as a means to stimulate creative thinking about environmental problems. Her FAST project will assess written reflections from students in two different upper-level experiential philosophy courses she teaches at MSU to attempt to understand the role of active learning—field trips and an embedded outdoor experience—in learning and caring about the course content and the learning community.
Ryan Maloney is a third year Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Structural Engineering from the University of California - San Diego. He came to Michigan State University with a goal of becoming a university professor in a subject of a more hands-on nature. His research focuses on highly porous aerogel materials for thermal insulation and energy technology, with an emphasis on the materials needed for a sustainable society. Throughout his education Ryan has had a mixture of both excellent and less-than-stellar professors, and it is the former group to which he strives to belong.
Robert A. Montgomery is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife. He holds an M.S. degree from the University of Washington in Wildlife Science and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Minnesota in Physical Anthropology. Robert’s dissertation research relates to the quantitative ecology of large mammals. He is working on a variety of projects including accuracy assessments of wildlife resource use models and analysis of the environmental and biometric covariates that are consistent with moose carcass locations. Robert has had the opportunity to independently instruct and co-instruct several courses at Michigan State University. As a FAST Fellow he is interested in testing the effectiveness of conceptual models as learning tools in the classroom.
*Participated in the CIRTL (Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning) Exchange Program.
Emily Morrison is a fifth year Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Zoology and the Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior Program. She received a Master of Science in biology from the University of Kentucky and a Bachelor of Arts in Biology and Geography from Clark University. Her dissertation research examines the ecology and behavior of birds using tropical forest restoration sites in Costa Rica. Her research interests include tropical biology, ornithology and restoration ecology. She is interested in outdoor education, field-based teaching and learning, and the effects of prior outdoor experiences on students' interest in science.
Madhan Subramanian is a veterinarian and completed his D.V.M. degree in 2005 from Madras Veterinary College, Chennai, India. After completing his veterinary degree, he underwent training in veterinary pathology at Chonnam National University, Gwanju, South Korea. Madhan joined the Ph.D. program in the Department of Pathobiology and Diagnostic Investigation at Michigan State University in Spring 2008. Manhan’s research area is to understand the mechanisms behind which estrogen is playing a role in inducing hypertension and how this gained knowledge can contribute to the understanding and prevention of hypertension in women. His long term career goal is to become a productive academic researcher. He would like to pursue research in the area of neuroendocrine regulation of cardiovascular function. Specifically, he would like to understand how gonadal hormones affect cardiovascular function in young and aging population by altering brain function. Manhan currently serves as a teaching assistant in the Comparative Veterinary Gross Anatomy II course for freshmen veterinary students. He is interested in addressing the diversity of learning styles of students.
Kevin Wyatt is a fifth year Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Zoology and the Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior Program at Michigan State University. He earned a Master of Science and a Bachelors of Science in Biology at the University of Southern Mississippi. Kevin’s dissertation research focuses on interactions between algae, wetlands, and the atmosphere to understand the resilience of wetland ecosystem processes to environmental changes in high latitude regions. Because much of his work focuses on climate-change issues, Kevin is interested in promoting public awareness of environmental issues through science education.
2008-2009 FAST Fellows
Anne Axel is a sixth year Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife and the Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior Program. She earned a Master of Forest Science in wildlife ecology from the Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies from the University of Delaware. Her research interests include wildlife-habitat relationships, biogeography, and landscape ecology. She conducts the majority of her field research in Madagascar where she studies effects of habitat alteration on the distribution and abundance of dry forest lemurs. She has pedagogical interests in field-based learning, media, information and environmental literacies, writing-to-learn activities, and visual rhetoric.
Kimberly Cervello (Kim) earned a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics with Secondary Education Certification and a minor in Sociology from the State University of New York at Geneseo, in May of 2005. She then pursued graduate work at Michigan State University (MSU) in the fall of 2005, and achieved her Masters in Mathematics two years later. Continuing her graduate studies at MSU, in the fall of 2007, Kim then transitioned into the Mathematics-Education Ph.D. program in the Division of Science and Mathematics Education. In addition to her course work, Kim has had the opportunity to teach mathematics courses for prospective elementary teachers, an undergraduate trigonometry course, and a mathematics capstone course for prospective secondary mathematics teachers. Her research experiences in mathematics were primarily in number theory, graph theory, combinatorics, and algebra. So far, her three main research experiences in mathematics-education were about calculus students' transition from secondary education to tertiary education, high school mathematics teachers' mathematical knowledge for teaching reasoning and proof, and mathematics teaching assistants' mathematical knowledge for teaching the derivative. Kim's current research interests include knowledge and beliefs for teaching mathematics, teacher's decision-making, and professional development, especially at the collegiate level.
Geoff Horst is a fifth year Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife and the Ecology, Evolutionary Biology and Behavior Program. He received his B.S. in Oceanography from the University of Michigan and M.S. in Marine Biology from California State University, Northridge. Geoff’s research interests are in the physiological ecology of aquatic and marine organisms. For his Masters work, he researched the effects of increasing temperature and CO2 levels on coral calcification and bleaching. His dissertation work at MSU focuses on the nutrient physiology toxin-producing cyanobacteria and the development of harmful algal blooms in the Great Lakes region. Geoff’s research interests in teaching are focused on promoting scientific literacy among non-major undergraduates.
Carlos Jaramillo is a fourth year Ph.D. student in electrical engineering in the ECE department at Michigan State University. He received a M.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez in 2005, his dissertation topic was Statistical methods for characterizing slot antenna configurations. Carlos Jaramillo's current research interests are conformal antennas and computational electromagnetics. He is also interested in the development of computer-assisted educational material to teach the theoretical and practical aspects of electromagnetics.
Neera Singh is a doctoral candidate with the Department of Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies at Michigan State. Her dissertation explores how rural communities in the state of Orissa, India have evolved collective arrangement to conserve forests. In specific she examines how women and other marginalized sections gain voice within forest governance and decision-making. She has extensive experience of working on issues of rural development and environment in India through her work with Vasundhara, an NGO that she founded. Her broad ranging interests in the area of nature-society interactions stem from her experience as a practitioner. In terms of teaching she is interested in feminist pedagogy, and exploring role of deliberation and engagement in learning contexts.
Jacqueline Stagner is a fourth year Ph.D. student in the Chemical Engineering and Materials Science Department at Michigan State University. She received her Bachelor of Applied Science from the University of Windsor, and her Master of Business Administration from Lawrence Technological University. Jacqueline worked for six years as a mechanical engineer in the automotive industry. Her research interests are in the area of sustainable materials and entrepreneurship. As a teaching assistant and teacher for standard test preparation courses, she is interested in focusing on students’ critical thinking and problem solving abilities, which will help them in the classroom and in their future careers.
Greg Stricker is a fourth year doctoral student in the Zoology Department and the Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior Program at Michigan State University. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Biological Sciences from Rutgers University. Greg is currently working on a research project examining curiosity and cognitive ability within carnivores, which has included collaborative work with zoological institutions within Michigan as well as throughout the United States. Due to this work, Greg is interested in the utilization of settings outside the classroom, such as zoos, in science education, as well as the effect that environment may have on the learning process.
Lorna Watt is a second year doctoral student in the Departments of Plant Biology and Ecology, Evolutionary Biology and Behavior. She is interested in plant evolutionary ecology and is developing an integrated study of origin of plant species from the scale of the gene to the environment. Other interests include ecological modeling, environmental perceptions in different cultures, and science education. Her hopes for this fellowship include using evolution education as a lens for teaching scientific inquiry.
Sara Wyse is a fourth year doctoral student in the Department of Plant Biology and the Ecology, Evolutionary Biology and Behavior Program. Sara received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Bethel University (St. Paul, MN) in both Biology and Life Science Education. After spending two years studying carbon cycling and climate change in boreal systems, she discovered her true passion in teaching undergraduate students and her research now focuses on scientific teaching, where she desires to contribute to improvements in undergraduate biology education. Sara is interested in the development of the graduate teaching assistant both in practice and in beliefs about teaching and student learning.
2007-2008 FAST Fellows
Jill Arnold is a third year graduate student in the Sociology Department at Michigan State University. She received a dual Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Sociology from the University of Iowa. Her research interests concern the construction of family time, in particular how fathers perceive themselves within the family given their personal and work background. Starting from her first year of graduate school working as a teaching assistant, Jill realized the value of teaching as an important part of academic life. Her central pedagogical interests involve encouraging diversity within the classroom through a number of avenues.
George Berghorn is a second year PhD student in the Construction Management program at Michigan State University. He received a Master of Environmental Studies degree in watershed science from the Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies in 1998 and a Bachelor of Science degree in political science and earth science from the SUNY College at Brockport in 1996. He worked for several years in environmental engineering and construction prior to beginning doctoral studies, where he was a project manager for soil and water remediation and brownfield projects. His research interests are in the arena of life cycle cost applied to sustainable construction on former brownfield sites. This interest in supplemented by an interest in teaching applied sciences, developed during several semesters teaching environmental science and organismal biology at Lansing Community College.
Yen Duong earned her Master's degree in aquaculture from Can Tho University, Vietnam. She is now a second-year doctoral student in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife and the Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior Program at Michigan State University. Her fields of interest include fisheries conservation, population genetics, population ecology and evolutionary biology. She also has a particular concern about developing different learning and teaching strategies to better prepare for her position as a university lecturer in Vietnam upon completion of her PhD studies.
Kristin Getter graduated with honors in 1993 from Michigan State University (MSU) with a B.S. in Mathematics. She later earned an M.S. in Horticulture (2006) from MSU. Her Master's thesis was titled Extensive Green Roofs: Plant Evaluations and the Effect of Slope on Stormwater Retention. She is continuing to work with vegetated roofs while earning her PhD (with an expected completion date of 2009). Her dissertation will focus primarily on quantifying the carbon sequestration potential of green roofs. Upon earning her doctorate, Kristin plans to teach at the college level.
*Participated in the CIRTL (Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning) Exchange Program.
Subbu Kumarappan is a third year PhD student in the Dept of Agricultural Economics, Michigan State University. He has a Masters in Economics from Iowa State University and a Bachelors degree in Agriculture from Annamalai University (India). His research interests are varied encompassing ag products consumption behavior, business investment decisions, carbon markets, biofuels and biomass supply potential. With regard to teaching, he has served as a Teaching Assistant in various economics courses (micro, macro, marketing); the conferences, workshops and classroom activities in the MSU's 'Certification in College Teaching' has enabled him to develop a broader perspective of teaching. He is interested to include research in teaching as another focus area in his academic career.
Marcia LaCorbiniere-JnBaptise graduated with honors (BS) from Alabama Agriculture and Mechanical University (A&M), with dual degrees in Environmental Science and Crop Science, (1998); obtained MS degree from Iowa State University (2002) in Soil Science, where she formulated organic fertilizers. She is a PhD candidate in the department of Crop and Soil Sciences, with her research focused on sustainable crop production. She is evaluating the impact of various soil amendments on nutrient availability, soil quality, and crop yield. Additionally, Marcia recently completed the doctoral specialization in the Environmental Science and Policy program (ESPP) here at MSU. Her desire is to get involved with interdisciplinary research and some teaching/mentoring.
Wiline Pangle is currently a 5th year Ph.D. candidate in the department of Zoology at Michigan State University under the supervision of Dr. Kay E. Holekamp. Her dissertation, entitled "Threat-sensitive behavior and its ontogenetic development in to mammalian carnivores," focuses on the antipredator behavior of spotted hyenas in the wild and led her to carry out data collection in the Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, where she resided for over 16 months. A native of France, Wiline Pangle holds a B.S. from McGill University, Montreal where she examined the antipredator behavior of the Eastern chipmunk. She has received multiple fellowships and grants to conduct her research, including the American Association of University Women International Fellowship and the Graduate Women in Sciences Eloise Gerry Fellowship. Wiline Pangle has also been actively involved in bringing sciences to the K-12 and promoting women in sciences, working in close collaborations with science teachers across Michigan, and developing inquiry-based activities to promote sciences at all levels of education.
Jungeun Park is a graduate student in Division of Science of Math education at Michigan State University (MSU). I am currently in my first year in the Mathematics Education program. I received a B.S. in Mathematics from Korea University in Korea. I also just finished a M.S. in Mathematics at MSU. I taught high school mathematics for four years in Korea. In MSU, I have taught a math class for perspective elementary teachers, College Algebra, Survey of Calculus. My research interests are the teaching and learning collegiate mathematics.
Sara Wyse is a third year doctoral student in the Department of Plant Biology and the Ecology, Evolutionary Biology and Behavior Program. Sara received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Bethel University (St. Paul, MN) in both Biology and Life Science 5-12th Grade Education. After spending two years studying carbon cycling and climate change in boreal systems, she discovered her true passion in teaching undergraduate students and her research now focuses on scientific teaching, where she desires to contribute to improvements in undergraduate biology education. Specifically, Sara is interested in the development of the graduate teaching assistant and the subsequent impact on student learning in the laboratory and lecture classrooms.
Chao Yu is a fourth year Ph.D. student in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Michigan State University. Chao received his bachelor and master degrees from Beihang University (China) in Aerospace Engineering. Now his research focuses on Aeroacoustic and Aerodynamic simulations including methodology developments and numerical analysis. Chao once worked as a TA in the Department of Mathematics and accumulated some teaching experiences. In 2007-2008, he will lecture an undergraduate mechanical engineering course, Fluid Mechanics lab.
2006-2007 FAST Fellows
Jana M. Simmons is a Ph.D. candidate in the department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at MSU. She graduated with a B.S. in Biochemistry from Alma College in 2004. While an undergraduate, Jana completed an honors thesis with Dr. Joe D. Beckmann. As a graduate student she is studying an enzyme from Trypanosoma brucei, the causative agent of African Sleeping Sickness. Jana is interested in researching the effects of relevance and application as motivational factors in learning.
Angelita (Gel) Alvarado -- was born and raised in Zamboanga City, Philippines. Filipinos call Zamboanga the City of Flowers because we have the most diverse tropical flowers in the country. I got my Bachelor in Science (Biology) degree from Xavier University in the Philippines. I came to the United States in September 2000 to pursue my masters at the School of Marine Affairs at the University of Washington in Seattle. I love the oceans and the coral reefs, and I am always looking for opportunities where I can help protect marine environments. I taught for a year at YMCA Storer Camps in Jackson, MI after I graduated at UW, then I started my doctoral program at MSU in fall 2003. My main research interests are education, marine resource management, and sustainable development. For my dissertation research, I will be looking at how teaching pedagogies influence students' ability or capacity to do something for or that will benefit the Great Lakes. I love to teach and I would love to continue teaching at a small college or university after I graduate.
Anne Axel -- is a fourth year joint doctoral student in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife and the Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior Program. She is also pursuing a graduate specialization in African Studies. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies from the University of Delaware and a Master of Forest Science from Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Her research interests are in the areas of wildlife-habitat relationships, biogeography, and landscape ecology. She conducts the majority of her field research in the African country of Madagascar where she is currently studying the effects of habitat alteration on the distribution and abundance of two species of lemurs in the tropical dry forests of the south. Recently Anne was awarded two Fulbright Fellowship awards to return Madagascar to complete her dissertation research. Anne co-developed the MSU Madagascar Study Abroad Program and led the first offering of that course in 2006. She will return to Madagascar in May to co-lead the second offering in 2007. Her central pedagogical interests involve engaging reluctant learners of science by demonstrating relevancy and also utilizing writing-to-learn methods to encourage student learning and reflection.
Aladar Horvath -- is a graduate student in the Mathematics Department at Michigan State University. He is currently in his second year in the Mathematics Education program. Aladar received a B.S. in Mathematics from Purdue University-West Lafayette. He has taught both courses in a series of math classes for perspective elementary teachers, Pre-calculus, Calculus, and Ordinary Differential Equations. His research interests are the teaching and learning of mathematics at the collegiate level.
Denise Lackey -- is a third year doctoral student in Human Nutrition at Michigan State University. She graduated with a B.S. in Nutritional Sciences and a minor in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the Pennsylvania State University in 2004. While an undergraduate, Denise completed an honors thesis on the effects of vitamin A on cultured innate immune cells with Dr. A. Catharine Ross. As a graduate student, she still studies the effects of vitamin A on immune cells. For educational research, Denise is interested in developing critical thinking skills in health science students as well as improving nutrition curricula in medical schools.
Terri McElhinny -- is a PhD candidate in the Department of Zoology. A mammalogist, her research interests include the morphology, behavior, and evolution of mammals. Her dissertation research involves study of the morphological and genetic variation of a single species, the spotted hyena, across the continent of Africa. Her pedagogical research interests center on metacognition as it applies to complex problem solving; and the synthesis of patterns inherent in the study biological systems, where rote memorization is an ineffective means of learning the material.
Gabe Ording -- is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Entomology. His entomological research emphasis is on Population Genetics in Papilio butterflies and the Evolutionary processes involved in Hybrid Zone maintenance and Speciation. As an instructor for the Department of Entomology and the Center for Integrative Studies, Gabe coordinates the curriculum development for a new ISB lecture / lab course combination – Insects, Globalization, and Sustainability. Most recently Gabe has been involved with faculty from the other Integrative Studies Centers, in the development of a new Environmental Science Theme Track. His primary educational research interests lie in investigating the factors that impact long-term retention of knowledge.
Nils Peterson -- is a fourth year doctoral student in Fisheries and Wildlife at Michigan State University. His research and teaching interests focus on using systems theory and systems modeling to facilitate a productive fusion between the natural and social sciences.