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Behavior

Behavioral and Geophysical Factors Influencing Success in Long Distance Navigation

Navigation in the open ocean has challenged humans for millennia. Nevertheless, animals around the world regularly accomplish astonishing feats of navigation. My research utilizes quantitative methods to better understand the biological mechanisms that enable such remarkable navigational feats. First, using computational modeling, I explore whether large marine animals, such as the gray whale, use the earth’s magnetic field to migrate, and describe natural sources of electromagnetic noise that can disrupt this sensory modality.

Two bees or not two bees: towards a mechanistic understanding of variability in individual and collective responses of insects to ecological stressors

Social insects, like the bumblebee, are essential to global agroecosystems, contributing to the pollination services needed for roughly a third of consumable crops. Given their global importance, and evidence for declines of pollinators, it is imperative to better understand how insects respond to ecological challenges- including overuse of pesticides and increased competition. These stressors are encoded by insect sensory systems, which can in turn affect interactions between individuals and the resultant collective decisions.

Humanizing biology to promote equitable classrooms

Recent innovations in biology education research focus on promoting equity in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) by humanizing biology. Research from my lab on this topic can be split into two broad avenues of inquiry, including the impacts of (1) promoting counter-stereotypical role models on student outcomes and (2) contextualizing societal and ethical considerations into biology curricula with ideological awareness.

"Oh, that makes sense!": Metacognitive Regulation in Individual and Collaborative Problem-Solving

Stronger metacognition, or knowledge and regulation of thinking, is linked to increased learning, problem solving, and academic achievement. Metacognition has primarily been studied using retrospective methods, but these methods limit access to students’ in-the-moment thoughts and actions. Using in-the-moment methods of think aloud interviews and discourse analysis, we investigated first year life science students’ individual metacognition while they solved challenging problems and upper-division biology students’ social metacognition during small-group problem solving.

Small changes, meaningful outcomes: Improving mental health among undergraduate and graduate students in the sciences

There is a mental health crisis among undergraduate and graduate students in the sciences, owing to the extraordinary percentages of students who report anxiety and depression. These conditions disproportionately affect students who the scientific community is trying to recruit and retain, including women, students from low socioeconomic backgrounds, LGBTQ+ students, and students with disabilities.

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