NAGT > Divisions > Geoscience Education Research Division > GER Division Officers

Geoscience Education Research Division Officers

Past President Karen McNeal

Karen McNeal is an Associate Professor in the Department Geosciences at Auburn University. Her research is best characterized by the geoscience education and geocognition research fields where the study of peoples' understanding, engagement, and perceptions of complex earth systems is emphasized. She ties together the affective and cognitive domains of learning through both qualitative and quantitative methods in the context of climate change and Earth System Science phenomena. She specifically focuses on student's conceptual model development of complex environmental systems; assessing the affect (value and belief) and the influences on people's climate knowledge and perceptions; measuring participant engagement and attention through psychomotor (e.g., eye-tracking and skin conductance) responses to climate information and testing differences between expert and novice learners; and the development and testing of programs, classroom activities and pedagogies that enhance scientific literacy and skill development, recruitment of students to the geosciences, and the communication of the geosciences, especially those approaches which are student-centered in active learning settings.

Karen hopes to continue to foster the community the Geo Ed Research Division has established both within the disciplinary boundaries and beyond.

Education: B.S. Marine Science, Eckerd College; M.S. Oceanography, Texas A&M University; Ph.D. Geology, Texas A&M University.

Teaching Experience: Earth System Science, Global Change, Introduction to Physical Geology, Ocean Science, Climate Change Literacy and Communication, Biogeochemical Cycles, Environmental Geology, Principles of Pedagogical Design in STEM, Geoscience Education: Theory, Research and Practice

Professional Experience: Assistant and Associate Professor at Mississippi State University (6 years); Associate Professor at North Carolina State University (3 years); Associate Professor at Auburn University (Present); Co-PI, PI or external evaluator on over 28 external grants with funding from the NSF, NOAA, EPA, and NASA totaling over $14M; ~50 peer-reviewed publications; Editor for Research of JGE (2010-2014) and Associate Editor of JGE (2014-2019); Panel Reviewer for NOAA, NSF

Memberships: NAGT, GSA, AGU

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President Katherine Ryker

Katherine Ryker is an Assistant Professor of Geoscience Education in the School of the Earth, Ocean and Environment at the University of South Carolina. Katherine's research interests revolve around inquiry and student learning in introductory geoscience lectures and labs, the relationship between teachers' beliefs and practices, and implications for professional development. She is especially interested in innovative classroom interventions, including the use of augmented and virtual reality or hands-on physical models. Katherine has more than ten years of high school and college teaching experience, with teaching awards from NAGT, NC State and Eastern Michigan University. She enjoys putting her geoscience education research into practice in her own classes, as well as through professional development opportunities like the Earth Educators' Rendezvous and university-wide workshops on improving practices in STEM lectures and labs. She served as the NAGT GER Secretary from 2014 to 2017, overseeing the creation of the monthly newsletter and other division communications.

Education: B.S. in Earth and Ocean Sciences, Duke University; M.S. in Sedimentology and Ph.D. in Geoscience Education from the Department of Marine, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences, North Carolina State University.

Teaching experience: College-level: Environmental Geology; Physical Geology; Earth Science for Elementary Educators; Essentials of the Geosphere for Elementary Teachers; Secondary Methods for Earth Science Education; Nature of Science; Nature of Science for Elementary Teachers; Geology of NC for Teachers. High school-level: Biology, AP Biology, Earth Science, Astronomy, Intro to High School Math, and Algebra I for Durham Public Schools; Durham, NC.

Memberships: NAGT, GSA, IAGD, NSTA, ASTE, AEG.

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Vice President Kelsey Bitting

Kelsey Bitting is an Associate Director of the Center for Advancing Teaching and Learning Through Research at Northeastern University. Kelsey's research interests include exploring the impact of inquiry-based learning experiences on geoscience students' understanding of the nature of science, examining conceptual learning in the context of introductory geology student exploration in virtual field environments, and understanding how faculty and teaching assistant teaching beliefs and practices develop and evolve. She served as the NAGT GER Communications Committee Director from 2015 to 2018, creating the monthly newsletter. She regularly offers workshops and programs for faculty across STEM disciplines, with an emphasis on the theory and practice of inclusive teaching, evidence-based course and activity design, and transforming large undergraduate courses.

Education: B.A. in Earth and Environmental Sciences & Anthropology, Vanderbilt University; Ph.D. in Geological Sciences and Quaternary Studies Certificate from Rutgers University.

Teaching experience: University faculty pedagogical professional development, K-12 science teacher Earth Science content professional development, graduate-level courses in teaching in the geosciences, and undergraduate-level courses in the geosciences.

Memberships: NAGT, GSA, POD Network, CMIND

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Treasurer Anne Gold

Anne Gold is the Director of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES)'s Education & Outreach Program. She has conducted climate science research for 6 years and taught many college-level classes, including field-camps and advised M.S. students. She is serving as a lead on a summer research project for community college students in Colorado, on curriculum development projects and on a research project about the importance of spatial thinking in Geoscience education. She is the PI of an ITEST project in which students develop short videos about how climate change affects their communities and lives. She runs a Research Experience for Community College students and leads the education efforts of the international Arctic Expedition MOSAiC (Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of the Arctic Climate. She previously developed the CLEAN peer-review process for educational resources. She conducts program evaluation and educational research around climate topics. Her projects translate research into educational resources.

Education: Diplom - Physical Geography, University of Regensburg, Germany, Masters - Geographical Information Sciences, University of Salzburg, Austria, PhD - Physical Geography, University of Regensburg, Germany & ETH, Zuerich, Postdoc - Department of Geological Sciences, Dalhousie University Halifax, Canada.

Memberships: AGU, GSA, NAGT

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Secretary Leilani Arthurs

Leilani Arthurs is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geological Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder (CUB). Her research involves understanding the challenges that adult-learners who are novices to geoscience confront during instruction, particularly with respect to the cognitive and affective domains; developing and evaluating formative and summative assessments based on this understanding to facilitate learning geoscience and promote science literacy; and studying the conditions that inhibit and promote the implementation of active learning strategies during post-secondary STEM instruction. She believes that the growing community of scholars pursuing Geoscience Education Research has tremendous potential to transform geoscience education in particular and STEM education more broadly through collaborations within and outside our home disciplines.

Education: B.A. Peace & Conflict Studies, University of California at Berkeley; B.S. Geology, University of Hawai`i at Hilo; four 1-year certificates in pedagogy and Ph.D. Civil Engineering & Geological Sciences, University of Notre Dame.

Teaching Experience: college STEM faculty pedagogical professional development, K-12 science teacher Earth Science content professional development, college courses in the social and learning sciences and the natural sciences.

Professional Experience: Geophysics Science Aide at the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (5 years), Science Teaching Fellow at the University of Colorado at Boulder (3 years), Assistant Professor at Georgia Southern University (1 year), Associate Editor for JGE (2012-2018). Grants: Recipient of funding through NSF-WIDER, NSF-IUSE, and Nebraska Department of Education; external evaluator or advisory member for projects funded through NASA, Space Telescope Science Institute, and NSF-IUSE.

Memberships: AAAS, ACS, AGU, GSA, NAGT, NARST.

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Media Director Emily Geraghty Ward

Emily Geraghty Ward is an Associate Professor in the Geology Program at Rocky Mountain College in Billings, Montana. Her research interests are focused on how places and cultures influence the way people learn about and interpret the physical landscape. Her past projects include working with tribal college faculty, staff and students to develop methods to assess geoscience learning in higher education in the context of different places and cultures. These projects have focused on assessing learning in both formal and informal contexts through place-based instruction and research apprenticeships. Her current work looks at the design and assessment of place-based geoscience classroom interventions and course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs). Student research projects include investigating rockfall hazards, analyzing fracture networks, and mapping local bedrock geology.

Education: B.A. Geology, Whitman College; M.S. Geology, Washington State University; Ph.D. Geology, University of Montana

Teaching Experience: college level courses including Introductory Geology, Geomorphology, Geology of the National Parks and Monuments, Oil and Gas Geology, Geomechanics, and Geology Capstone course.

Memberships: AGU, GSA, NAGT, Geoscience Alliance (GA), Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR)

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Past President

2018 - 2019 Karen McNeal, Auburn University

2016 - 2018 Nicole LaDue, Northern Illinois University

2015 - 2016 Laura Lukes, George Mason University

2014 - 2015 None, first year of division


2018 - 2019 Katherine Ryker, University of South Carolina

May 2017 - 2018 Karen McNeal

2016 - May 2017 Todd Ellis, Western Michigan University

2015 - 2016 Nicole LaDue, Northern Illinois University

2014 - 2015 Laura Lukes, George Mason University

Vice President

2018 - 2019 Kelsey Bitting, Northeastern University

May 2017 - 2018 Katherine Ryker, University of South Carolina

2016 - May 2017 Karen McNeal, Auburn University

2015 - 2016 Todd Ellis, Western Michigan University

2014 - 2015 Nicole LaDue, Northern Illinois University


2018 - 2019 Anne Gold, University of Colorado Boulder

2017 - 2018 Anne Gold, University of Colorado Boulder

2016 - 2017 Anne Gold, University of Colorado Boulder

2015 - 2016 Kim Cheek, University of North Florida

2014 - 2015 Kim Cheek, University of North Florida


2018 - 2019 Leilani Arthurs, University of Colorado Boulder

2017 - 2018 Leilani Arthurs, University of Colorado Boulder

2016 - 2017 Katherine Ryker, Eastern Michigan University

2015 - 2016 Katherine Ryker, Eastern Michigan University

2014 - 2015 Katherine Ryker, Eastern Michigan University