When I began my journey through academia, I first became interested in paleobotany as a field of research. My research experience as an undergraduate led me to pursue a Master’s degree in a lab where I could study the evolution of angiosperms. However, when I arrived at my Master’s institution, I quickly learned that while paleobotany was fascinating, I preferred teaching even more. This led me to connect with a biology education researcher who showed me that I could do research specifically to determine how best to teach students biology. I then decided to make a switch to a lab where I could begin studying how students thought and learned about invasive species. During this project (which would become my Master’s thesis under Dr. Paula Williamson) I discovered the idea of plant blindness. It was then that I realized I wanted to study this subject as a Ph.D. student. I began developing research questions and projects to address those questions that I would eventually pursue in my Ph.D. Over time, my ideas and projects have changed dramatically. I am currently still studying plant blindness, but I recently realized that the term itself is a disability metaphor and is therefore unwelcoming to disabled people and scientists. I now call this idea plant awareness disparity, and while the topic itself is the same, I study it in very different ways than I had originally planned. In the three years since I began my Ph.D. I have developed ideas for future projects to expand upon what I’m doing with plant awareness disparity, and extend into other fields of biology education research as well.

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