Welcome to the 2020-2021 academic year–starting off like no other! We’d like to introduce this year’s cohort of Science Education and Outreach Fellows: Joelyn de Lima, Kyle Jaynes, and Elizeth Cinto Mejia.
As a team, we will go boldly into the realm of online programming to coordinate the K-12 Partnership workshops, and plan and assist with virtual field trips for K-12 students to learn about research at KBS! Our goal is to support K-12 teachers, educators and students in engaging in current topics in environmental ecology and conservation. This opportunity is funded by MSU’s Graduate School.
Let’s meet this academic year’s fellows!
Joelyn de Lima
Some of you probably remember me – I was previously a volunteer teacher-in-residence with the GK12 Program in 2012-13. I really value that time and those experiences I shared with you and I am so glad to be back again.
I am now a graduate student at MSU and will actually be defending my Ph.D. this semester! I am a discipline-based education researcher in the Department of Plant Biology. My research is focused on undergraduate biology education. I explore how context influences the way students reason about evolution, and the way they represent their knowledge and reasoning. Specifically, I study the variation in students’ responses to equivalent questions asked using different contexts, and the degree to which different modes of response influence the content and accuracy expressed. My research leverages analytic and statistical approaches used by population biologists and network scientists to test theories rooted in psychology and the learning sciences.
In addition to my research, I am involved in various science communication and community building endeavors and I am interested in making science more accessible to non-academic audiences. I value science as a way of comprehending the world, and I believe that a broad societal understanding of science will improve living standards.
During my previous residence at KBS, I worked with some of you to develop the Agriculture and Ecology Activity Trail. This semester, I will work on disseminating information about the trail to both scientific and practitioner audiences. I look forward to continuing working with you all while we work to make science more and more accessible to our students and to the general public.
I am a Ph.D. student in the Fitzpatrick Lab at Kellogg Biological Station, Michigan State University. I am broadly interested in the ecology, evolution and conservation of amphibians and reptiles, or herps. My research focuses on rediscovered frogs (i.e., frogs that were once thought to be extinct) in Ecuador. I use DNA, museum, and environmental data to understand why some species have declined and/or avoided extinction. I am also involved in some other research projects at KBS, like a long-term mark-recapture turtle project. Before coming to MSU, I worked on African Giant Treefrogs at the National Museum of Natural History and a long-term Guppy mark-recapture project in Trinidad, West Indies. I love all parts of my research, and am always happy to talk about wildlife (especially herps!).
While at MSU, I’ve had a handful of experiences with the outreach team thus far that have contributed to me becoming a 2020 outreach fellow. I developed an eDNA (environmental DNA) lesson plan (‘Where the wild things aren’t’), and co-coordinated our Summer 2020 K-12 Workshop (the first virtual KBS K-12 workshop!). This year, I am leading an after-school program in Kalamazoo schools on biodiversity science and career paths for middle schoolers. I am really excited to implement this program and connect our outreach team with local schools. I am also excited to help coordinate our virtual field trips and materials for teachers, and interact with everyone in the capacity that we are able.
Elizeth Cinto Mejia
Hi! I am a Ph.D. candidate in the entomology department at Michigan State University. Although my lab is located on the main campus in East Lansing, I move to KBS every summer to do my research. I am very interested in the impacts humans can have on ecosystems. Before coming to MSU, I studied the effects of noise pollution on bird communities in the desert at Boise State University, Idaho. At MSU, I am focusing on how extreme weather events, specifically heat waves, alter plant communities and plant-insect interactions. For this project, I mostly measure plant traits, physiology and plant diversity. Although now I am working mainly with plants, in the past I have worked with corals, birds, rodents, fish, bats and insects.
Over the last few years, I have participated in education and outreach activities teaching bird conservation and migration.This experience became one of my favorite parts of grad school which is why I am very happy to join the science education and outreach team at KBS. Other than learning the skills that I need to make outreach a larger component of my academic career, I am very excited to interact with teachers and students and help with environmental education. I am also looking forward to developing curriculum and classes in Spanish, my first language, and working with Spanish-speaking communities.
Kara Haas is the Science Education and Outreach Coordinator at the W.K. Kellogg Biological Station.