Our team includes a diverse group of researchers with expertise in field station outreach programming, informal education, STEM education, data modeling, and the natural sciences.
|Dr. Rhonda Struminger, Principal Investigator, is an Assistant Research Professor and Assistant Professor of the Practice in Ecosystem Science and Management at Texas A&M University. Struminger also co-directs CICHAZ A.C., a field station in Calnali, Hidalgo in Mexico, and brings to the team a familiarity with informal STEM learning opportunities inherent to the field station environment. Struminger also has an extensive background studying education in an academic context (Peña-Mora et al. 2004; Struminger 2013), managing the development of educational products for a major scholastic publisher, developing and evaluating curricula as a private consultant, and instructing at the university level.
|Dr. Jill Zarestky, Principal Investigator, is an Assistant Professor of Education at Colorado State University. Zarestky has extensive experience with STEM teaching and learning theory, including how these theories work in practice in informal environments and with a variety of learners (Zarestky 2015a, 2015b; Deer and Zarestky 2016; Zarestky and Collins 2016; Zarestky and Ruyle 2016). Her expertise includes both quantitative and qualitative research methods (Zarestky and Bangerth 2014; Ray and Zarestky 2016). Zarestky’s perspectives will help bridge the gaps among the various facets of the project, making connections between theory and practice, education perspectives and STEM content perspectives, and types of learners, including K-12, university, adult, and community groups.
|Dr. Michelle Lawing, Co-Principal Investigator, is an Assistant Professor of Ecosystem Science and Management at Texas A&M University and is a quantitative biologist who studies ecology and evolutionary biology at multiple spatial and temporal scales (Lawing et al. 2012; Lawing & Matzke 2014; Lawing et al. 2016). She has participated in many informal outreach activities and has visited over a dozen field stations to collect data for her ecological research.
|Rachel Short-Martin is a PhD student in Ecosystem Science and Management at Texas A&M University. She has training in paleontology as well as science education and has developed an interest in how science is taught to public audiences. She has worked outreach events as an intern and volunteer with a number of natural history museums, and she spent one year as an AmeriCorps Volunteer at the Gray Fossil Site where she worked closely with the education and marketing directors. In addition to this project, her research includes and the morphological responses of ungulates to environmental change through time.
|Jeffrey Rodriguez is an M.S. Candidate in Human Dimensions of Natural Resources at Colorado State University. His research interests include collaborative conservation, science education, and the connection between social justice and conservation. Before starting graduate school he was an outreach practitioner for multiple government agencies at the state and federal levels (i.e. National Park Service, United States Geological Survey, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife). He also has worked in the private sector as an environmental educator, and a consultant.|