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We are STEM@UNI

UNI STEM Staff

Aaron Spurr
Aaron Spurr, Field Experience Coordinator & Instructor, Science Education
Department of Teaching, Department of Earth Science


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Aaron's research interests and areas of expertise are integrating technology in secondary science classrooms, earth science curriculum development, 1-to-1 mobile computing initiatives, and Web integration in education.
I became interested in Earth Science when I came to UNI as a freshman in 1985. I can't really remember how I became interested, I suppose it just happened. I have been interested in science in general for as long as I can remember. Science wasn't always my favorite class in school, but it was always my top area of interest.
Alan Czarnetzki, Professor of Meteorology
Alan Czarnetzki, Professor of Meteorology
Department of Earth Science


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I am interested in weather forecasting, K-12 teacher professional development in science, atmospheric thermodynamics, and air quality.
I became interested in weather at an early age. A tornado that passed close to my childhood home in Minnesota sparked an interest that developed further as I read more about weather topics in grade school. I decided to become a forecaster for the National Weather Service, but got involved with teaching while in graduate school and then settled on a career in higher education where I could work with undergraduate students and K-12 educators.

Alexa R. C. Sedlacek, Assistant Professor of Geology
Department of Earth Science


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I am a geologist by training, but I am interested in multidisciplinary approaches to studying past and present climate change, evolution and extinction. I study episodes of climate change in Earth’s past. I do this using carbonate rocks, such as limestone, that are precipitated from ocean water and record some of the chemical signatures of that ocean water. I primarily use carbon and strontium stable isotope ratios of these marine rocks to interpret past changes. I am currently researching two periods of mass extinction in Earth’s history. The first is the Late Permian mass extinction and its aftermath. This was a period of extreme global warming, and I study how Earth’s system responded to a rapid input of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere to reach a new equilibrium point. The second extinction event I study occurred during the Devonian. This period is associated with general cooling, attributed to the radiation of land plants.
I became involved in STEM after taking Introduction to Geology as general science requirement for my B.A. degree.
Dr. Anne Marie H. Gruber
Anne Marie H Gruber, Instruction and Liaison Librarian, and Assistant Professor
Library


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As a library faculty member, I research faculty and student information skills, perceptions, and experiences. This can include asking about how confident students feel searching for and evaluating sources, how aware faculty are of library resources, and even how librarians teach about the ever-changing information landscape. Currently I am beginning a project focused on library support for service learning. Specifically, I want to investigate faculty perceptions of students’ learning and engagement when the library is involved in service learning projects in their courses.
I became particularly interested in STEM issues when I led a grant project at my previous institution to raise awareness of gender biases and stereotypes — lots of examples (positive and negative) came from STEM and it was wonderful to help faculty and students learn how to address such issues.
Ben Schafer, Associate Professor, Computer Science
Ben Schafer, Associate Professor, Computer Science
Computer Science


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I am interested in the impact of BYOD computing in classrooms, ways to interact THROUGH computers rather than WITH computers, and the introduction of computer science as a fluency in K-12 education. I am also interested in the challenges of teaching computer science in un-structured environments (libraries boys and girls clubs, after school programs, Code DoJos, etc).
I started my career as a middle school math and science teacher. Early in that process I became very interested in how computers could be used to improve education (and how they were often being used badly in education). I went back to graduate school to better understand computer science and its impact on its users.
Chad Heinzel, Associate Professor, Department of Earth Science
Chad Heinzel, Associate Professor
Department of Earth Science


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The overall goal of my research seeks to understand and communicate the interrelationships between human civilizations and their environments (landscapes/soils). To discover and characterize these human/environmental connections, I use and collaborate with multiple scientific disciplines (archaeology, biology, climate, and my specialty geology). I have conducted research and taught in southern Italy/Sicily and Iowa for the past twenty years.
I am particularly interested in the Neolithic to Iron Age (7000 to 800 B.C.) and the transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture. It is my hope that by effectively quantifying and communicating the environmental successes and failures of past human civilizations, we can strengthen/improve our own interactions/relationships with the Earth's dynamic environments.
Dawn Del Carlo
Dawn Del Carlo, Assoc Professor, Chemistry & Biochemistry
Science Education


Favorite STEM Websites


My primary interest is in how students at all levels approach data acquisition in their chemistry laboratory classes. More specifically, how do students approach an experiment, what are their views toward that experiment, and how do their views affect their approach and data analysis. These issues can be directly related to students perceptions of academic dishonesty in the classroom laboratory. Closely related to the first topic, is my second interest in how students' perceptions of laboratory work (both in the classroom and in the research lab) are influenced by the social interactions that occur in the laboratory setting. This includes interactions among group members, professors, and mentors leading to a "community of learners". Most recently this line of research has been expanded to include the research experiences of in-service teachers.
As long as I can remember, I've loved science. One of my favorite shows growing up was 321 Contact and I have a vivid memory of being memorized by liquid nitrogen when a classmate's dad brought it in to school in 4th grade. My interest in science became an interest in chemistry when I hit middle and high school and found that it just made sense to me. I was (and still am) completely blown away by all the fascinating things that molecules are capable of and as a result, dictate us and the world around us. College is where found my desire to share and pass on this fascination to others, but also learn about how people actually learned chemistry. Those questions took me to graduate school where I had the pleasure of not only learning about more chemistry, but also how to best get other people to acquire and appreciate having that knowledge.
Doug Hotek, Professor of Technology Education
Doug Hotek, Professor, Technology Education
Department of Technology


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Ginger L'Heureux, UNI STEM Graduate Assistant
Ginger L'Heureux, UNI STEM Graduate Assistant
UNI STEM, Technology Department


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Ginger is pursuing a Masters of Science in Technology at UNI. She is an advocate and loves to encourage young students, boys and girls, to pursue STEM careers.
Engineering had not been at the top of the list as a possible course of study. Journalism was going to be her major. The beginning of the story of how Ginger came here to UNI took an abrupt turn when she won the Nebraska State Bridge Contest her senior year in high school. The reward for such an honor was a scholarship, though a small one, and the catch was that you had to be enrolled in the College of Engineering at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Soon after the contest, calls were made, the major changed, school started and the classes were hard. Her adviser told her to "follow the flow chart" without looking up from her desk.

Not wanting to be like this engineer and believing she did not have it in her to follow the flow chart's course load, she walked downstairs, defeated, to the Dean's office ready to change her major again. Her supervisor in the Engineering Research Center and the secretary in the Dean's office encouraged her not to quit engineering, so rather than going back to Journalism, which was the intention, she changed to Biological Systems Engineering and picked up a second major of Communication Studies with every intent to NOT be like the adviser upstairs. If engineers can't communicate, Ginger was going to be the exception to the rule. And she wanted to show others that you don't have to be super smart to be an engineer but hard work and determination have their rewards as well.

Since that first year, Ginger has completed her Engineering and Communications Studies degrees, passed the necessary exams to become a licensed Civil Engineer and has worked at a few different companies and a number of various projects in Nebraska, Missouri, Iowa and California. Every project was a new adventure with a tremendous amount of learning, not only about the science, but about people. Ginger stayed active in such groups as Society of Women Engineers, American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, American Society of Civil Engineers and has held leadership positions in these as well. Ginger's career was put on pause to stay home to take care of her three boys but encouragement from a colleague led Ginger to UNI to pursue a Master's in Technology and with her youngest now in preschool... no time like the present! With her family's support and an offer to work with UNI STEM, she could not say no to such an opportunity and is now very excited to be a part of the UNI community.
Jill Uhlenberg, Department Head & Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education
Jill Uhlenberg, Department Head & Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education
Curriculum & Instruction


Favorite STEM Websites


My research area includes toddler Problem Solving and STEM learning; PreK STEM curriculum development. I am interested in all four areas, although technology is probably least addressed in my work.
I am a Sputnik kid. My first encounter with STEM was in a Price Lab School summer program for math and science. Sputnik changed my school's curriculum somewhat so that a group of us were allowed to engage in science-based inquiry classes in high school because we had pretty much taken all the science and math offered in the normal curriculum. I attended ISU as a biochemistry major in a time when women in STEM were not supported or encouraged, so after a struggle with Differential Equations, I changed majors--more than once and eventually left school before graduation. Ten years later I returned to college, but at UNI, and earned my Elementary Education K-9 teaching license with endorsements in math, science, and language. From then on, my goals have been to develop high quality teachers who were not afraid of STEM--either teaching or learning--and providing professional development to enhance teachers' skills.

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