FAST Fellow Bios

2018-2019 FAST Fellows

Mark Berardi is a PhD candidate in the department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders studying with Dr. Eric Hunter. He received his BS in Applied Physics with a minor in Music at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah where he focused on speech and architectural acoustics. At MSU, Mark focuses on applying computational modeling and machine learning to quantify changes in speech acoustics associated with behavioral accommodations to vocal fatigue. Throughout his academic career, Mark has had a primary emphasis on STEM outreach, particularly in the area of acoustics. He continues this work as a FAST fellow providing STEM laboratory experiences to students of non-STEM courses that he teaches.

Alexander Burgoyne is a PhD student in the Cognition and Cognitive Neuroscience Program at Michigan State University. He conducts research on skill acquisition and expertise, with a focus on individual differences in ability and personality. Recently, Alex co-authored a meta-analysis published in Psychological Science which called into question the influence of mindset interventions on academic achievement. His latest research projects include (1) investigating the role of placekeeping ability in problem solving, (2) using eye-tracking to better understand the cognitive processes underlying reading comprehension and proofreading performance, and (3) quantifying the joint contribution (and potential interaction) of abilities and purposeful training on the acquisition of complex skills.

Joelyn Delima is a graduate Student in Dr. Tammy Long’s Lab in the Dept. of Plant Biology. She has a background in both Science (Bachelor’s in Zoology with Biotechnology, Master’s in Marine Science) and Education (Bachelor’s in Education). She has experience teaching grade 5 through undergrad. Her interests are in Undergraduate Biology Education and Informal Science Education. At the moment, she is working on exploring the effect context has on the way students reason – especially with respect to Natural Selection.

Alyssa Harben is a 2nd year Packaging PhD student with research focused on optimizing Over-the-Counter Drug packaging and labeling to help consumers notice warnings and comply with instructions. She graduated with a BS in Business Administration with a concentration in Consumer Packaging Solutions from California Polytechnic State University of San Luis Obispo in 2015, and earned her M.S in Packaging from MSU in 2017. Working as a member of Dr. Laura Bix’s Healthcare Universal Design and Biomechanics (HUB) Team for both her Masters and PhD has enabled her to study the influence of packaging on human behavior. After being a lab instructor for 2 years, she became the instructor for PKG 101 Principles of Packaging in the spring of 2018. She recently redesigned PKG 101 to emphasize the role of well-designed packaging systems as a problem solving strategy for both retailers and consumers.

Darren Incorvaia is a third-year PhD candidate in the Department of Integrative Biology studying foraging behavior and motivation in bumblebees. Specifically, he is working on determining how social cues in the nest influence forager decision-making in the environment. Outside of his bee work, Darren is passionate about teaching and science communication. As a FAST fellow he hopes to examine how curiosity, as a source of intrinsic motivation, develops in college students.

Jennifer Kirk is a PhD candidate in the department of Microbiology & Molecular Genetics at Michigan State University and is co-advised by Edward Walker and Kazem Kashefi. Her research focuses on the water-filled tree hole habitat as a model ecosystem for the analysis of factors constraining mosquito production. The tree hole ecosystem is heterotrophic and dependent upon microbially-mediated decomposition of organic detritus and inputs of inorganic nutrients from stemflow water. For growth in this ecosystem, mosquito larvae consume microorganisms. Her dissertation research challenges the assumption that tree hole production is nutrient-limited; instead, it is a nutrient-rich environment, but hypoxic, with a deficit of electron acceptors to further microbial respirations and decomposition, and a surplus of electron donors establishing a reducing environment. Jennifer has a passion for teaching that continues to develop through several years of experience as a teaching assistant at Eastern Michigan University and MSU, as well as multiple courses and workshops on current teaching pedagogy. As a FAST fellow, she is interested in studying diversity in the classroom (cultural and ethnic background, gender, socio-economic background, among others) and how these factors impact course performance and retention in STEM programs.

Christine Kwiatkowski is a PhD student in the School of Criminal Justice and Neuroscience Program. She is a member of the Robison lab with a research focus on risk for aggression. She received a BS with dual concentrations in Brain, Behavior, and Cognitive Science as well as French and Francophone Studies from the University of Michigan followed by an M.H.S. in the Mental Health Department at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Through the FAST Fellowship, she is interested in exploring how supplemental course materials affect student performance.

Tracy Melvin is a doctoral student in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at Michigan State University with Dr. Gary Roloff in the Applied Forest and Wildlife Ecology Laboratory. Her research focuses on biodiversity conservation in the Anthropocene specific to climate adaptation. Her work is global in scope, but focuses on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska as a case study for stewarding prospective climate adaptation in the face of climate-induced ecological transformation. After obtaining her degree Tracy would like to teach at the collegiate level, focusing research on global conservation challenges and promoting a laboratory that emphasizes educational opportunities for students in developing countries, and refugees of foreign war. Tracy has co-created and co-taught the award winning and highly popular study abroad program “A Fragile Fiji: Integrating Ecology and Human Dimensions in the Face of Climate Change”, along with serving as a TA for the Lyman Briggs College, Honors Biology Program, and Department of Fisheries and Wildlife. Tracy is a student trustee for the Michigan Nature Conservancy, and a Science to Action Fellow for the U.S. Geological Survey. As a FAST Fellow, Tracy will explore the role of technology in the classroom and ways to effectively motivate students by manipulating formative and summative assessments to increase student engagement and promote enduring knowledge.

Gabriela Quinlan is a PhD student in the Entomology Department and Ecology, Evolutionary Biology and Behavior Program at MSU. Her research interests include landscape and spatial ecology, and she is currently studying nutrition-mediated honey bee health as an effect of landscape at multiple scales. Gabriela is interested in teaching research to understand how students learn to effectively enhance engagement and transfer in the classroom.

Aritra Sarkar is a 5th year PhD student in Dr. Babak Borhan’s lab at the Department of Chemistry, Michigan State University. His main research area involves mechanistic studies of asymmetric reactions using various spectroscopic studies. Prior to joining the program at MSU, he earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Calcutta in India. Following that he went on to earn a master’s degree in chemistry from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) at Kanpur, India. Two of his most favorite things to do (other than research in chemistry) are meeting new people and talking about science, being a teaching assistant (TA) at MSU allowed him to do just that. He has had the opportunity to be a TA for various undergraduate and graduate courses over the last few years. Now, as a FAST fellow he wishes to better understand the how to more systematically approach and improve his teaching skills.

Melissa Starking is a third year PhD student dual enrolled in the Fisheries and Wildlife Department and Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior program. She earned her BS and MS in wildlife biology at the University of Michigan-Flint. Currently, Melissa is in Dr. Gary Roloff’s Applied Forest and Wildlife Ecology Lab studying wildlife responses to innovative silvicultural approaches in northern hardwood forests of Michigan. While here at MSU, she has obtained the University Certificate in College Teaching from the Graduate School. As a FAST fellow, she hopes to increase her teaching skill set by learning science based teaching strategies to effectively engage, connect, and help students become independent critical thinkers. Melissa would like to learn ways to develop courses and assessments in a way to optimize a diverse student body’s ability to learn.