I am a PhD candidate in the Geology Program here in the SEOE. My research is based in geoscience education, meaning that I'm researching ways to teach geology more effectively and how to better engage students with the material. While completing my B.S. in Geology at Appalachian State University, I became heavily involved in K-12 outreach through my job at the McKinney Teaching Museum. Between outreach and my role as an instructional assistant, I really developed a passion for teaching others. I met countless students who were intimidated by science and who didn't think they belonged in STEM disciplines, and I wanted to do something to change that. I came to the University of South Carolina to work with Dr. Katherine Ryker on a project that will train spatial skills in introductory geology students. I am measuring changes in students' self-efficacy (confidence in their understanding), value (how important they believe the material is) and success (grade) after this training.
In the last two years I have received multiple grants to help sustain my research and teaching efforts. In 2020, I earned the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship ($138,000) which supports me for 3 years while I work on my degree. I've also received the Teaching Resource Development Grant ($500) and become a member of the Graduate Student Leadership team ($750), both of which give me the opportunity to invest in innovative new teaching tools. While seeking mentorship opportunities, I've applied for and received the On To the Future Grant ($450) from the Geological Society of America, as well as $500 from the Professional Pathways Program. These have helped me navigate the complex world of academia by partnering with a mentor to discuss best practices for writing, applying for jobs, and presenting at conferences. Considering all of these awards, the most meaningful recognition I've ever received is through the Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant Award from the Graduate Student Association at UofSC and the Outstanding Leadership Award from my undergraduate department. These two awards remind me that my efforts have a positive effect on the people around me, which is the greatest motivator of the work that I do.