Outreach
Mentoring and Education
 
In the lab, I have enjoyed the opportunity to foster several undergraduate researchers by exposing them to primary literature and experimental design, and training them in everything from statistics to behavioral analysis to molecular techniques. Additionally, however, I have enjoyed connecting with younger students at the K-12 level. I aim to provide a role model, encouragement, skills and opportunities for students from a wide variety of backgrounds.
Amphibian life cycle and diversity; New Hope Elementary in Hillsborough, NC
Hands on Biology for K-12
 
It has been demonstrated that having women science career role models plays a critical role in shaping the attitude of early adolescent female and male students towards female scientists [1]; that is, exposing young children to successful women scientists benefits the biological community at large. I have served this role by visiting public and private K-12 schools approximately once a month to deliver science modules. Developed by my host lab, these modules match core objectives of the Indiana Science Teaching Standards and at the same time focus on the integration of ecology and development with evolution. In these modules, students practice the scientific method, develop critical thinking skills, and have hands-on fun exploring biology [2]. Importantly, it caters to both girls and boys, such that both benefit from the exposure to successful women scientists.
 
[1] Smith, W.S. & Erb, T.O. 1986. Effect of women science career role models on early adolescents' attitudes toward scientists and women in science. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 23:s667-676.
[2] http://ecoevodevo.com/outreach.html
 
Skulls: Form and Function Module; Bloomington Highschool South
Science Outreach for Girls
 
I am involved with a partnership between the farm where I conduct fieldwork and a nonprofit agency, Girls Inc ( http://www.girlsinc-monroe.org/ ). The agency serves ~550 girls between the ages of 6 and 18 in Monroe County, IN, with the aim of helping girls overcome gender inequities that persist in our society by bringing them research-driven programming and mentoring in an all-girls environment. In our unique program, groups of 12 girls visit the farm for three days to study animal behavior. Girls are divided among teams responsible for different animals (cattle, sheep, goats and chickens), and devise research projects that incorporate observational skills and hypothesis testing. They spend time observing animal behavior and recording observations in notebooks, for instance, by using stop watches to quantify time budgets. Not only do girls work in teams to solve research problems, they also communicate their findings to their peers. Specifically, they are responsible for creating and presenting a poster and leading discussions about how the study of animal behavior can inform animal management and welfare.
 
Left: participants in Girl's Inc. Summer Camp are led to a field of cows where they will collect behavioral data for a study that they have devised, themselves. Below: the Girl's Inc. Summer Science classroom.