MSU Faculty PDF Print E-mail

Andy Anderson
GK-12 Co-Director (Co-PI) and Professor
Department of Teacher Education

Phil Robertson
GK-12 Co-Director (Lead PI) and Professor
KBS and Department of Crop & Soil Sciences

Tom Getty
GK-12 Co-Director (Co-PI) and Professor
KBS and Department of Zoology

Jeff Conner
GK-12 Co-PI and Professor
KBS and Department of Plant Biology

Gary Mittelbach
GK-12 Co-PI and Professor
KBS and Department of Zoology

KBS Staff

Name: Jenny Dauer (
Department: Teacher Education
Position: Research Associate
Degrees Held: ABD PhD in Forest Science at Oregon State University, MS in Ecology at Penn State University, BS in Secondary Education at Penn State University
Starting Year at MSU: 2011

Researching nutrient cycling over the last ten years (2002-present) has given me a broad understanding of ecosystems (from soil to plants to atmosphere) and a multiple scale-perspective of environmental issues (from chemical process to landscape patterns). My specific research involved the long-term sustainability of calcium nutrition in forests of Oregon, which allowed me to become intimately acquainted with soil chemistry, plant physiology and ecosystem functioning. I'm now most interested in how people (K to gray) understand ecosystem processes and environmental issues, especially surrounding carbon and global climate change.

After getting certified to teach high school biology in Pennsylvania in 2000, I worked for an NSF-funded project-- Parent Partnership in School Science, at the Franklin Institute Science Museum. We developed inquiry-based activities and workshops for three underrepresented elementary schools in Philadelphia, and created adult-partnership activities that gave parents a entry point into school science. During this time I developed a strong interest in innovative and transformative curriculum.

Starting in 2012 I will be working full time with Andy Anderson as a post-doctoral researcher, on the Carbon TIME (DRK12) project among others. I am interested in understanding how learning progressions can be used to build more effective K-12 curriculum, and how classroom investigation activities influence student's understanding of the scientific process.

Name: Jennifer Doherty (

Department: Teacher Education


Position: Post-Doctoral Researcher
Degrees Held: Ph.D. in Biology from the Ecology, Evolution, and Biodiversity Graduate Group at the University of Pennsylvania (2009) Starting Year at MSU: 2009


Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi live in a (mostly) mutualistic symbiosis with the roots of most herbaceous plants.  In exchange for carbon from the host plant, they provide the plant with various services such as increased access to nutrients and water and protection from pathogens or heavy metals.  The overarching goal of my dissertation was to improve our understanding of how arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal diversity is maintained within the rooting zone of an individual host plant and the consequences of that diversity on host plant performance.  I focused my work on how how abiotic factors (including heavy metals) affected this globally important symbiosis.

I was an NSF GK-12 Fellow at Penn for four years.  As a fellow I developed and taught a service learning course involving undergraduates in teaching biology to West  Philadelphia high school students. My GK-12 work allowed me to leverage funding from the local school district to develop low cost inquiry labs and classroom activities that can be done in every classroom and to continue monthly professional development sessions I began as a fellow.  You can see some of my activities at

Working with Philadelphia teachers and students for six years changed my life and now, instead of studying fungi, I am doing a Post-Doc in Environmental Literacy with Andy Anderson.  In addition to my interest in students' learning of ecology, I am interested in what tools teachers need to teach science for true understanding, what it takes to induce teachers to use these tools once they have them, and how all teachers can acquire these tools?  That is, how can we sustainably prepare teachers to change their classroom culture without large, short-term NSF grants?


Name: Staci Sharp (
Department: Teacher Education 
Position: DRK-12 Project Manager
Degrees Held:
Starting Year at MSU: 2011


Name: Sara Syswerda (
Department: Kellogg Biological Station, Teacher Education
Position: K-12 Partnership Coordinator
Degrees Held: PhD in Crops & Soil Sciences and Ecology,  Evolutionary Biology, & Behavior
Starting Year at MSU: 2003

Statement: I'm originally from Indiana, where I grew up in the middle of corn country. I moved to New York to go to college at Cornell, where I majored in biological sciences. I had several research assistantships while I was there. My first was in chemical ecology, and that was what helped me be inspired to change my major from biochemistry to biology. After I graduated, I wanted to go to grad school because I knew medical school wasn't for me, and I loved working outside. Being an ecologist was perfect, and Michigan State offered several programs that would allow me to work in agricultural ecology. My interest in agriculture came from my growing up in a rural area as well as my second research job at Cornell, which was both at the Cornell Horticulture Farm and the Cornell Student Organic Farm. I wanted to know agriculture could be improved to reduce the environmental problems associated with current production practices. I currently work on the impacts of nitrogen fertilizer applications and diverse rotations on the environmental impact of agricultural systems. I have previously been involved in teaching through the K-12 partnership, where I was a building level scientist. I was part of the GK-12 program for a three years as a fellow, and I am now the K-12 coordinator for KBS and researcher with the department of Teacher Education.


Name: Sarah Bodbyl Roels (
Department: Kellogg Biological Station, Plant Biology
Position: GK-12 Program Manager
Degrees Held: PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Kansas
Starting Year at MSU: 2012

Statement: I am a native Michigander, growing up in Cutlerville, just south of Grand Rapids. I majored in biology at Calvin College and then moved to Kansas to pursue a doctorate in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. I am a self-professed biology nerd and I love science! I am broadly interested in the evolutionary significance of the diverse reproductive strategies found among all plant and animal taxa. My doctoral research focused primarily on mating system evolution (or changes in the reproductive strategies of populations over time) in Mimulus, a genus of common North American wildflowers. I plan to continue research in the field of evolutionary biology in partnership with KBS and MSU.

Thoughts on GK-12: I had the distinct pleasure of being a GK-12 fellow at the University of Kansas from 2011-2012. I partnered with a 7th grade physics class in an inner city middle school. The GK-12 experience launched me into the world of science education and science communication, where I developed a deep conviction to improve science literacy and improved my ability to communicate clearly as a scientist.

I am excited by this new opportunity to continue growing relationships between the graduate students, faculty, and staff of KBS and the teachers, administrators, and students of the GK-12 partner districts.