Founding Members Bios.

Steering Committee

balser.jpgTeri Balser - I am an associate professor of soil biology and ecology at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, and the Director of our Institute for Cross-college Biology Education. I teach intro environmental studies, soil biology, ecosystem ecology, a unit in honors biology, and also a graduate seminar in "teaching large classes." I am also actively involved in soil ecology outreach to community groups, in-service teachers, and farmers. My ecological research focuses on the role of soil microbial communities in exacerbating or mitigating ecosystem response to human disturbance and global change. My education research focuses on the use of technology in learning, the development of interdisciplinary thinking and learning, and the role of identity development in critical thinking and engagement with science. As the Director of ICBE I work on how we can help learners of all ages be successful in biology, with a particular personal interest in transitions to college and graduate school.

Cdirks.jpgClarissa Dirks - I am an assistant professor at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. I teach introductory biology, virology, immunology, advanced cell and molecular biology, microbiology and bioinformatics. I serve on the National Academies Summer Institute for Undergraduate Science Education Committee and am a regional field station leader for the Faculty Institute for Reforming Science Teaching. I am currently designing tools for assessing undergraduates’ mastery of science process skills and materials for using art to teach biology. I also work to enhance diversity in the sciences by focusing on retention of incoming underrepresented undergraduates. As a virologist I investigate the evolutionary history of retroviruses and viral inhibitory proteins in lemurs.

MP-Color_photo.jpgMary Pat Wenderoth -I am a Principal Lecturer in the Department of Biology at the University of Washington. I teach 200-400 level animal physiology courses. I am a member of the UW Biology Education Research Group (UW-BERG) which is a group of 10-15 faculty developing and testing pedagogical methods for undergraduate life science courses. I have also created a national (soon to be international) wiki site, Biology Education Research, in an effort to help the faculty who are apart of this new sub-discipline of Biology to be recognized and to foster a network of researchers who can collaborate with each other and move the field forward.


JanetBranchaw.jpgJanet Branchaw - University of Wisconsin
I am a Faculty Associate at the Institute for Cross College Biology Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I teach Organismal Biology (physiology) in our Honors Biology curriculum; a seminar course, Entering Research, for students who are beginning independent research in the sciences; and two seminars for junior and senior students who are continuing research and preparing for graduate school. The curriculum for the Entering Research course has been published as part of Freeman's Scientific Teaching series and an initial paper on the impact of this course was published in CBE Life Sciences Education (Summer 2010). I direct 2 NSF funded undergraduate research programs, a summer Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program and an academic year Undergraduate Research and Mentoring (URM) program. I am an alum of the National Academies Summer Institute and the ASM Biology Scholars Research Residency program. Currently, I am studying the development of metacognitive and study skills in students who participate in the Honors Biology program at UW-Madison, continuing to collect data to study the impact of the Entering Research seminar, developing the curriculum for my junior and senior graduate school preparation research seminars, and developing and implementing a set of in-class group problems for my organismal biology course. In addition to my teaching and undergraduate research work, I also facilitate mentor training workshops (Entering Mentoring) in collaboration with the Wisconsin Program for Scientific Teaching and the NSF funded UW-Madison Delta Program in Research Teaching and Learning.

brookerRobert.jpgRob Brooker - University of Minnesota
I am currently a Professor in the Dept. of Genetics, Cell Biology and Development at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. My research interests focus on the structure, function, and regulation of proteins that transport organic anions and metals across the cell membrane. I am transitioning into education research. My teaching efforts have primarily centered on undergraduate courses in Biology and Genetics, and graduate courses in Cell Biology. A major emphasis of my teaching involves group work and active learning. I have received various teaching awards including the Morse Alumni Award, the highest teaching honor given to faculty at the University of Minnesota, and the Biology Club Award, an honor voted upon by students. I have been actively involved in developing Online and Distance Learning courses through the University of Minnesota, where I offer courses in Biology, Genetics, and Cell Biology. I am the author of an undergraduate textbook in genetics entitled: Genetics, Analysis and Principles, 3/e (2008) McGraw-Hill. I am also co-author on a majors Biology textbook: Biology, 2/e (2010) by Brooker, Widmaier, Graham, and Stiling, McGraw-Hill.

BrickmanPeggy.jpgPeggy Brickman - I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Plant Biology at the University of Georgia where I teach (350 students/each) general education introductory biology. My biology education research is in the area of developing and assessing active learning strategies to improve large group instruction. As part of this, I am currently testing the efficacy of “clicker” case studies on critical thinking through the National Center for Case Studies in Science Teaching (NCCST). I am also a regional field station leader for the Faculty Institutes to Reform Science Teaching (FIRST IV). At UGA, I am researching the impact of a curriculum development course for graduate students and the impact of project-based learning activities in my general education science courses. For this project, I am developing assessments designed to measure practical science literacy skills that the average citizen would use in their daily lives as well as assessing the role of project-based instructional methods on student motivation to learn science.

campbell.jpgMalcolm Campbell - I ( teach introductory biology, molecular biology, genomics, and synthetic biology at Davidson College. I conduct pedagogical and basic research in synthetic biology and have led numerous educational workshops. In collaboration with mathematician Dr. Laurie J. Heyer, I co-authored the first true genomics textbook, Discovering Genomics, Proteomics and Bioinformatics, second edition ( which was published jointly by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press and Benjamin Cummings. In 1999, I co-founded the Genome Consortium for Active Teaching (GACT; GCAT is dedicated to bringing genomic methods into the undergraduate curriculum through community cooperation. Since the fall of 2000, over 20,000 undergraduates have used GCAT microarrays. GCAT has organized NSF-funded microarray workshops for about 360 faculty from all over the US. In the summer of 2010, we offered the first synthetic biology workshop for interdisciplinary teams of faculty from 15 schools ( I am collaborating with mathematician Heyer and ecologist Chris Paradise to write a new introductory biology textbook for majors that starts from first principles and throws out the old approach of presenting encyclopedic factoids. The book incorporates mathematics as well as ethical discussions to relate the content to students’ lives.

ConnollyMark.jpgMark Connolly- I have been a researcher at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison since earning my doctorate in Higher Education from Indiana University Bloomington. I study college teaching, postsecondary faculty, and student learning at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Since October 2008, I have been the principal investigator of a five-year longitudinal study of the effects of future-faculty professional development programs on STEM doctoral students; this work is supported by a $1.7M NSF CCLI-Phase 3 award. I also am a member of the research & evaluation team for the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning <>, a $15-million, seven-year National Science Foundation-sponsored project that is preparing graduate students in science, technology, engineering, and math as 21-century teacher-scholars.

Erin_Dolan.jpgErin Dolan - I am an associate professor in the Department of Biochemistry at Virginia Tech, where I study research as a context for teaching and learning at high school, undergraduate, and graduate levels. The program that serves as the context for most of my research is the Partnership for Research and Education in Plants (PREP;, which establishes research collaborations among high school students, biology teachers, and research scientists to study gene function in the model plant, Arabidopsis thaliana. I am particularly interested in students' development of argumentation skills and scientific identity through discourse with one another and scientists and teachers. Other efforts that I am proud to be a part of are CBE - Life Sciences education, a journal of life science education research and evidence-based practice that is published by the American Society for Cell Biology, the NSF-funded American Society for Microbiology Biology Scholars Program, and the American Society of Plant Biologists, for which I chair the education committee.

freeman.jpgScott Freeman - I am a lecturer in the Department of Biology at the University of Washington, as well as the co-author of an upper division textbook called Evolutionary Analysis and sole author of the introductory textbook Biological Science. For the past eight years I have been working with colleagues at the UW on an array of projects in biology education research--most of which have involved experiments with large lecture classes in our introductory series. My current work focuses on innovative ways to teach basic concepts in evolutionary biology and methods for making active learning techniques more tractable and easier to implement.

hens2.jpgMark Hens-

JKnight.jpegJenny Knight- University of Colordao- Boulder
I am a Senior Instructor in the Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology at the University of Colorado at Boulder. I coordinate the MCDB branch of the Science Education Initiative, now in its final year. I am also a regional field station leader for the Faculty Institute for Reforming Science Teaching (FIRST IV) project. I have worked primarily on concept assessment design and validation, and on testing best practices for clicker uses/pedagogy. I am also interested in uncovering and figuring out how to repair common misconceptions in genetics, and in the differences between how non-majors and majors learn biology. I teach non-majors Human Genetics, Developmental Biology (senior level), The Brain-From Molecules to Behavior (junior/senior), and a Teaching and Learning Seminar for grad students and post docs on active learning pedagogy and the research that supports it.

miller.jpgKathryn Miller -Washington University
I am Professor and Chair of Biology at Washington University in St. Louis. My research is in the area of the cytoskeleton in differentiation and function of specialized cells. We use Drosophila as a model system for genetic, molecular genetic, biochemical and cell biological studies of actin, myosin VI and other actin-binding proteins in several different types of cells. I also am interested in active learning techniques and using writing as a tool for student engagement. I teach a writing intensive course called 'Molecular Mechanisms of Development,' using primary literature, small group discussion and other active learning techniques, tablet PCs and a classroom network for facilitating communication, and essay writing to promote student learning. I am in the process of analyzing student learning and the different instructional methods and technology that have been used the course. I participate in an Education Research Group at WU that meets weekly during the academic year to discuss curriculum development, implementation, assessment projects and studies of student learning in classroom settings. This group includes cognitive psychologists, education faculty, staff and faculty involved in K-12 science teacher professional development programs, discipline faculty from Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Math, WU Teaching Center staff, and graduate students and post-docs interested in science education. I am involved in several initiatives to strengthen undergraduate science teaching at WU and to promote evidence-based approaches to curricular reform across campus. I am also Program Director of WU's HHMI Undergraduate Education Grant programs and am heavily involved in WU's undergraduate research programs.

MomsenJenni.jpgJennifer L. Momsen -
Joining the Biology Department at North Dakota State University this fall as an assistant professor, I’m jumping in feet first by co-teaching introductory biology, a large course (300+ students) required for several majors. My current research, funded in part by an NSF REESE grant to Tammy Long, explores the impact of a model-based instructional design on students’ ability to organize their knowledge and develop deep understanding of connections among foundational concepts in introductory biology. We are using Structure-Behavior-Function (SBF) Theory as a framework for instruction and evaluation of students’ thinking in the context of introductory biology. I am also part of FIRST IV, an NSF-funded study of professional development for postdoctoral scholars that evaluates the effect of professional development on postdoctoral understanding and implementation of the scientific approach to teaching and active student-centered learning.

Lisa_Montplaisir_03.gifLisa M. Montplaisir -
I am an Assistant Professor in Biological Sciences at North Dakota State University. My position is a joint appointment that includes responsibilities in the School of Education as well. My research interests are in student learning in science classrooms, especially at the undergraduate level. These research interests target (a) opportunities for development of understanding in the science classroom, (b) students conceptions of process versus products of science, and (c) preparation of future science faculty at both the higher education and secondary level. Current research projects involve studying large-lecture learning environments, technological tools used for formative assessment, and development of the understanding of the nature of science. I teach intro biology for majors (~470 students), an upper-division bioethics course, and a graduate level teaching college science course.

ericaofferdahl.jpgErika G. Offerdahl-
I am an Assistant Professor with a dual appointment in Chemistry & Biochemistry and the School of Eduation at North Dakota State University. I was hired as one of three faculty for a new STEM Education Ph.D. program at NDSU. Currently, my research is centered on three areas: assessment for understanding, undergraduate student learning in biochemistry, and science faculty and graduate teaching assistants’ pedagogical beliefs. I teach introductory biochemistry for majors (~300 students), a graduate-level teaching college science course, and mechanisms of gene expression. I am a Co-PI for an NSF Noyce Scholars Program and PI for an NSF Teaching Fellows/Master Teaching Fellows planning grant.

osgood.jpgMarcy Osgood -
I am an Associate Professor and Vice Chair of Education in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of New Mexico. My research focuses on student learning of biochemistry through cooperative-learning groups, and on Problem-Based-Learning computer cases, exams and assessments of problem-solving skills. I have served as PI/Director, and Outreach Director, respectively, for two NIH-funded New Mexico research and education programs Bridges to the Doctorate; New Mexico Idea Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (NM-INBRE). I serve as curriculum developer and faculty member for the UNM Premedical Enrichment Program, a post-baccalaureate program for educationally disadvantaged students preparing to enter medical school. I am a mentor to other UNM faculty in curriculum development/course design (in conjunction with UNM-School of Medicine Teacher and Educational Development), a faculty member/workshop leader for the NSF-fundedFIRST IV Workshops in Biology Teaching and Learning for Postdoctoral Scholars, and a member of the recently convened NRC Committee on Status, Contributions, and Future Directions of Discipline-Based Education Research.

NPelaezsmall.jpgNancy Pelaez- Before joining the faculty at Purdue as Associate Prof. of Biological Science in 2007, I was at California State University, Fullerton, a Hispanic-serving institution, and from that position I spent a year as a Program Director in the Division of Undergraduate Education at NSF. As a former Biology and Chemistry teacher, I enjoyed ten years science teaching experience in Bogota, Colombia and three years at Indianapolis Public Schools (a large urban district). I am an active member and currently on the Steering Committee for the Teaching Section of the American Physiological Society (APS). My BS was in Biology summa cum laude from Tulane University and my Ph.D. in Physiology and Biophysics from Indiana University School of Medicine was supported by a HHMI fellowship. I collaborate with an outstanding team of Science Faculty with Education Specialties (SFES) who are investigating the role of SFES in science departments. My main current project introduces students to experimental and quantitative analysis in a large lecture course for first-year biology students with support from NSF#0837229 Teaching Ethical, Experimental, and Quantitative (TEEQ) Biology through Problem-Based Writing with Peer Review and with a cross-college team of bioscience faculty who together are Deviating from the Standard: Integrating Statistical Analysis and Experimental Design into Life Science Education (HHMI). My biggest challenge is to establish Purdue's new doctoral program for science education research in the Biology Department, where several doctoral students are examining the types of errors students make when they apply quantitative reasoning to experimental design and evaluation of data.

Becky_Ruden.jpgBecky Ruden -

Jonathon Schramm - Michigan State University
After a few years studying forest plant communities in the wilds of New Jersey, I returned to my home region of mid-Michigan, where I have been working as a postdoc studying students' learning of key ecological concepts in grades 4-16. Through a series of related projects in Andy Anderson's group at MSU we have been attempting to better understand how students reason through key principles such as the conservation of matter and energy, and the continuity of genetic information, which underlie much of ecology and biology in general. Much of this research has occurred through close collaboration with K-12 teachers in districts around Kellogg Biological Station in SW Michigan, as well as with teaching faculty at MSU.

mshuster.jpgMichele Shuster - I am an assistant professor in the Biology department at NMSU. I started in a non-tenure track, 100% teaching position, but am now in a tenure-track position (and going up for tenure next year). I teach introductory bio (for majors and for non-majors), an upper-division cancer course, and help out in several of the pre0nursing courses (microbiology and physiology). My current projects include developing (and assessing) curricular activities designed to help my students with challenging concepts in introductory biology and an upper-division cancer course, working with “teaching fellows” through several training programs, as well as some K-8 projects (looking at outreach models that involve extensive partnerships with teachers). I have been a participant in the Scientific Teaching Summer Institute and the ASM/JGI Bioinformatics Institute, as well as a participant and mentor in the Biology Scholars Research Residency Program.

KarenSirum.jpgKaren Sirum -As a Science Faculty with Education Specialty (SFES) in a department of biological sciences, my area of research encompasses two main areas: in both I work to bring interactive engagement teaching strategies and inquiry-based lab experiences to the gateway biology courses. Specifically, one project involves introductory biology course redesign, and an integrated assessment approach, including the design and implementation of a new instrument called the Experimental Design Ability Test (EDAT). The EDAT is used to measure, in pre/posttest format, the development of students’ scientific thinking skills (Bioscene, in press). In addition to reforming my own courses, my second area involves research into how best to help science faculty and future faculty approach their teaching as they do their research—scientifically and based on the literature on how people learn. To this end, I designed and, to date, facilitated 10 one-year long Scientific Teaching Learning Communities (STLCs) involving a combined total of ~150 science faculty and future faculty who are now trying new interactive teaching strategies in their classrooms. In STLCs, 8-14 participants meet regularly over the academic year, and following the STLC agenda we developed, share resources and ideas, provide support, and participate in a forum for talking and learning about teaching (JCST, 2009, and BAMBED, 2010). I also designed and teach a 3 credit graduate level Biology Department course called “Teaching College Biology”, I am developing an undergraduate Learning Assistant program on our campus, and I supervise a Biology Education R&D group that involves undergraduate, Masters, and PhD Biological Sciences students who are getting their degrees in Biology Education Research.

Smith-Amber.jpgAmber Smith- University of Wisconsin
I am a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison with plans to finish in December. My lab group focuses on cell separation in plants using floral organ abscission in Arabidopsis as a model. I have had the opportunity to experience many different aspects of biology education and research during my graduate career including: developing genetics curriculum for an honors biology course and the online mentoring program Planting Science, developing and assessing curriculum focused on connecting the biological principles behind molecular techniques, involvement in after school science programs, development and presentation of professional development workshops for high school teachers and mentoring undergraduates in the lab. Most recently I collaborated on a Technology Enhanced Learning project which developed a new tool to help instructors to more efficiently give feedback to short written responses from students. I completed the Wisconsin Program for Scientific Teaching and was recently inducted into the UW-Madison Teaching Academy as a Future Faculty Partner. My biology education research interests are still quite broad and include how writing can improve critical thinking and how to better integrate quantitative reasoning into biology education.

Smith_Michelle.jpegMichelle Smith -
I am a lecturer in the Genome Sciences Department at the University of Washington. My work focuses on how to help students learn genetics and faculty adopt promising educational practices in their classrooms. Specifically, I am interested in investigating the origins of pervasive misunderstandings in genetics, determining what aspects of peer discussion make it an effective learning tool in large-lecture courses, and collaborating with biology faculty on science education research questions in an effort to facilitate course transformation. I also helped to develop the Genetics Concept Assessment (GCA).

brian_white.jpgBrian White - I am an Associate Professor in the Biology Department at the University of Massachusetts Boston. I teach the two semester General Biology series courses for majors. Although I was trained as a molecular biologist, my current research involves the development and evaluation of materials for teaching biology with an emphasis on uses of computers. I have developed several pieces of educational software that are in use around the world. I am member of the BioQUEST Curriculum consortium and have been a participant (2009) and a facilitator (2010) at the Wisconsin Summer Institute for Scientific Teaching. My two main research projects currently involve studying how students solve simulated genetics problems and their ability to construct phylogenetic trees.

Devin Wixon- University of Wisconsin

BillWood2.jpgBill Wood - I am a Distinguished Professor of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology (MCDB), Emeritus, at the U. of Colorado (CU), Boulder. For the past several years I have focused on biology education and BER. I participated as a consultant in the College Board’s revision of the AP Biology curriculum and have published and spoken in various venues on transforming biology teaching at the college level. Locally, I am MCDB Director of the CU Science Education Initiative; nationally I am Co-director of the National Academies Summer Institute on Undergraduate Education in Biology and Editor-in-Chief of the biology education journal CBE – Life Sciences Education (about to step down after a five-year term). I am also a member of the NRC Board on Science Education (BOSE), the Science Education Advisory Board of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and the recently convened NRC Committee on Status, Contributions, and Future Directions of Discipline-Based Education Research.

RobinWrightsmall.jpgRobin Wright - University of Minnesota