Latest News

October, 2022

Five years ago we started a project on graduate student perceptions of science education. At long last, we have finally published our findings!

You can read the paper here.

How do STEM graduate students perceive science communication

September, 2022

Melissa successfully presented her tenure and promotion talk!

September, 2022

One of our most enjoyable student projects has been published. We worked with undergrads to produce podcasts based on primary scientific literature.

You can read the paper here: From papers to podcasts

You can listen to the podcasts here.


August, 2022

We have been awarded a NIH RO1!!

Investigating Career & Research Experience Access Through Evidence (iCREATE)

There is an urgent need to increase the numbers and diversity of prepared graduates joining the biomedical workforce through systematic and impactful evidence-based approaches that follow scientific practices. We currently have NIH RO1 funding to address the lack of diversity in biomedical careers by designing, implementing and testing innovative interventions; as well as investigating the effect of high-impact practices (e.g., different research experience formats and career development opportunities) on students’ career goals, career strategies, and key student career intent and action outcomes.

This research will advance our understanding of best-practices in preparing a diverse biomedical workforce by 1) developing and testing evidence-based programs, thus, laying the groundwork for implementing similar efforts in life science curricula to increase minority representation in the biomedical workforce; 2) conducting comparative analyses across research experience formats, and across student demographics, to directly compare the impact of various experiences on student outcomes; 3) focusing on the impact of research experiences and career development opportunities on students from underrepresented backgrounds, an area that is significantly understudied, and 4) following students longitudinally to comprehensively understand how students develop career strategies and factors that trigger the intent and actions to pursue a career in biomedical research.


August, 2022

We have been awarded a NSF IUSE!

Assessing Sense of Belonging, Climate, and Culture at the Departmental Level from the Perspective of Undergraduate Students

This project aims to serve the national interest by developing a comprehensive, research-based assessment that will measure student’s sense of belonging to their department (i.e. their value and social community) as well as their perceptions of the climate and culture of their department. Numerous research studies point to the importance of sense of belonging, climate, and culture as factors in recruiting, retaining, and graduating STEM undergraduates, especially those that hold marginalized identities in STEM. While these studies can identify general issues that need to be addressed on a national scale, they often miss the challenges associated with individual academic departments, each of which has a unique culture. The department level is the most likely place for students to interact with a wide range of faculty, staff, and other students as they move through the required class sequence, seek guidance on course selection or careers, or become involved in research. Thus, departments are the place where interventions focused on increasing sense of belonging, climate, and culture can be tested effectively at scale. However, in order to change a given academic community, there needs to be community discussion grounded in the community’s own data. Data specific for a given community is fundamental to address pressing issues of diversity and inclusion directly within a given academic community. This IUSE Level 1 project will directly address the lack of community data available to departments by developing a comprehensive research-based assessment that will measure student’s sense of belonging to their department as well as their perceptions on the climate and culture of their department.

The goal of this project is to update a current sense of belonging questionnaire to include items relating to departmental climate and culture. Questionnaire items will include traditional, Likert-style research-based assessment with written prompts, and, to both complement and further expand on these measures, additional, complementary visual narratives as a way to collect a richer and more comprehensive understanding of undergraduate perceptions. Items will be developed through focus groups with a diverse population of faculty, staff, program directors, program coordinators, advisors, and other departmental representatives in order to ensure a comprehensive representation of culture and climate issues. The questionnaire will be implemented and validity data collected across a nationwide sample of ~1,400 undergraduate students. Additionally, the project aims to develop a protocol for auto-generating future data reports for departmental leaders, including a detailed handbook of how to interpret the data, as a way to make the questionnaire more streamlined. The NSF IUSE: EHR Program supports research and development projects to improve the effectiveness of STEM education for all students. Through the Engaged Student Learning track, the program supports the creation, exploration, and implementation of promising practices and tools.

August, 2022

The Charles D. and Mary A. Bauer Foundation has awarded funding for a longitudinal study following Biology majors as they learn to navigate the STEM career landscape. This project will fill several knowledge gaps relating to how life sciences graduates enter the STEM workforce, providing the foundation for future work:

  1. A comprehensive understanding of how life science graduates navigate the STEM workforce
  2. A longitudinal analysis of students who had access to career development training as undergraduates and those who did not
  3. An institutional comparison of students participating in a STEM-focused career development course

May, 2022

Motivation in Reading Primary Scientific Literature: a questionnaire to assess student purpose and efficacy in reading disciplinary literature is finally published!  This paper was a journey!

Download the PDF here: Motivation in Reading Primary Scientific Literature a questionnaire to assess student purpose and efficacy in reading disciplinary literature


April, 2022

Melissa presents on the research collaboration with Min, Cerrone, and Miriam related to how we can measure students behaviors (e.g. motivation, implementing expert-like strategies) as students learn to read primary scientific literature. Thank you to FALCoN, the Faculty Learning Community oNIST (National Institute on Scientific Teaching) for the invitation.

March, 2022

The undergraduate professional development (senior seminar) curriculum paper is published!

Download the PDF here: jmbe.00346-21

JMBE paper

November 2021

Cathy wins a FIU Women’s Explorer Award!  Congratulations, Cathy!


June 2021

Kyriaki, MJ, and Kassandra have their work on the 5CCs in introductory Biology courses published!

Download the PDF here: jmbe.00105-21


March 2021

Melissa presents the data from the Bioscience paper on the Fairchild Garden tours  as part of the FIU Plant Talk Series.

February 2021

Our paper on using the 5 Core Concepts of Biology to help students understand primary scientific literature is finally published!

Download the PDF here: Exploring PSL through the lens of 5CCs


November 2020

Mainlyng presents her summer research at the Virtual McNair conference


October 2020 Faculty Convocation Keynote Speaker

Melissa delivers the Keynote Address at the FIU 2020 Faculty Convocation (starts at 35 minutes in)


October 2020 Plant paper

Jessica, Simone, Ateev, and Melissa (finally!!!!!) publish our work on measuring, and working to alleviate, “plant blindness” in undergraduate biology students.

Download the PDF here: biaa089


July 2020 SABER

Kyriaki and Melissa present at the 2020 SABER Virtual meeting


July 2020

Eva and Kyriaki publish their paper on Sense of Belonging in a Biology Department.  Our first lab CBE paper!

Download the PDF here: cbe.19-09-0166


March 2020

On the eve of quarantine, the FIU Biology-Ecology-Botany-Research Integrity-Journalism team places second in our Bowling league


February 2020

Mainlyng presents as a McNair Scholar in Orlando, FL


February 2020

Melissa, Jessica, Kiana, and Amy host the “Alleviating Plant Blindness in Undergraduates” workshop at Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden.


February 2020

Melissa hosts Dr. Bruce Alberts as the 2020 Glaser Seminar Series Distinguished Speaker.

It was an honor to be able to share my mentor with FIU (and to tell stories while introducing him!)

January 2020

Kyriaki presents in Mumbai, India, at epiSTEME: A Conference Series to Review Research on Science, Technology and Mathematics Education

Kyriaki epiSTEM

December 2019

Lab breakfast at IHOP, celebrating a successful semester.

lab breakfast

December 2019

Three graduates this semester!  Congratulations and best of luck to Amy, Kiana, and Idara!  We are proud of you and cheering you on to your next steps!

amy grad

kiana grad

idara grad

October 2019

Our lab had a HUGE presence at the McNair undergrad research conference!!  Kiana, Amy, Hannah, Idara, Laura, Enza, Mainlyng, Kassandra, and Ruben all presented posters.


** getting closer to my dream of someday having a picture of everyone at once! **

Here are 8 out of 18 people currently in the lab, 44%…almost halfway there!!!


October 2019

Mainlyng presents at the STEM Transformation Institute weekly lunch seminar series


October 2019

Kyriaki presents at the National CIRTL Forum in Philadelphia

Kyriaki CIRTL

October 2019

Melissa speaks at ComSciCom Miami on how to explain a scientific paper in 120 words.


September 2019

Kiana presents at the McNair Symposium (and so does honorary lab member Rose)


September 2019

Tessy’s paper is published!

Providing Transferable, Professional Skills for the Next Generation of Scientific Professionals through an Outreach Opportunity

July 2019

The lab travels to the SABER (Society for the Advancement of Biology Education Research) annual meeting with SIX posters!  Special guest: John Geiger

We were also included on a poster with Mary Washburn and Miriam Segura-Totten  at the University of North Georgia…our first official collaboration!

kyriaki.jpgIMG-0115 (1).JPGIMG-0113 (1).JPGIMG-0109 (1).JPGIMG-0117 (1).JPG


June 2019

Simone wins a Young Botanist award!

(celebratory lunch included)



April 2019

Chelsey and M.J graduate!!!  Congratulations!

(complete with a celebratory breakfast)




April 2019

Melissa gives a presentation on what we are doing in the lab at the FIU Discipline Based Education Research (DBER) seminar series


April 2019

Amy, Kiana, and Chelsey present their research at the FIU undergraduate research conference.


February 2019

Kiana, Simone, Ateev, and Rose (honorary lab member) presented their research at the Emerging Researchers National (ERN) conference in Washington, DC.


February 2019

Matt’s PLOS Biology paper is featured on The Node: a community site for and by developmental biologists:


February 2019

Kiana is accepted as a McNair Fellow for 2019-2020!


January 2019

Matt’s first paper is published in PLOS Biology!


December 2018

Melissa presents on how to include primary literature into your course as part of the American Society of Cell Biology’s annual meeting.


November 2018

Nick presents his first poster at the FIU Learning Assistants Conference.  Nice work Nick!

Nick LA conference 2Nick LA conference

November 2018

Simone and Chaz receive McNair Fellow awards for their summer research projects



November 2018

Melissa gave a seminar to the Biology Department highlighting research done by Eva, Matt, Kyriaki, Chelsey, Kiana, and Amy.

October 2018

Good bye and good luck to Matt!

matt cake

October 2018

FIVE undergraduates in the lab presented at the 2018 FIU McNair conference!

amy McNair

Amy’s first poster!

Chaz McNair

I can’t keep track of how many posters Chaz has done.  He is a pro!

Chelsey McNair

Chelsey’s first poster!

Kiana McNair

Kiana’s first poster (and right before a big orgo exam)!

Simone McNair

Simone’s first McNair poster!

August 2018

Welcome, Kyriaki!  We are happy you are here at FIU!


July 2018

We had three posters and two talks at the 2018 SABER conference.  Matt was a champ helping out with them all!


July 2018

Eva’s paper is published!  download PDF


July 2018

Eva is going back to Sweden, but not without some cake first. Good luck Eva!  We will miss you!


June 2018

Eva’s paper is accepted!  Go Eva!

Screen Shot 2018-06-22 at 11.24.12 AM

May 2018

Our lab has FIVE abstracts accepted to the 2018 SABER biology education conference!

April 2018

Chris presents his research at the FIU Faculty Innovations for Student Success Showcase

chris poster

Chaz presents his research at the FIU STEM Undergraduate Research Symposium

chaz poster

March 2018

Our first paper as a lab is PUBLISHED!!!!!!!!


February 2018

Chaz and MJ present their research at the Emerging Researchers National Conference in Washington, DC

chaz ernmj ern

October 2017

Chaz and MJ present their research at the FIU McNair Scholars Research Conference

MJ at the poster session!

mj poster mcnair

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