Post-docs Tashiro and Fullington awarded NSF fellowships

Post-docs Dr. Jenna Tashiro and Dr. Sarah Fullington

Congratulations to Dr. Jenna Tashiro and Dr. Sarah Fullington, post-docs with Professor Sam Pazicni’s lab, for their work to advance understanding in Chemical Education. They have been awarded highly competitive National Science Foundation (NSF) for STEM Education Postdoctoral Research Fellowships (STEM Ed PRF) for $291,780 each.

Dr. Tashiro will use the award to focus on the lived experiences of Black, Brown, and Indigenous scholars during their graduate education. The project aims to deepen our understanding of the systemic issues within academia that cause qualified scholars of color to leave academia for other employment sectors after earning their doctoral degrees and provide recommendations to increase the diversity of the STEM professorate.

Dr. Fullington will use the award to focus on understanding the development and changes in general and organic chemistry students’ cognitive and epistemological ideas about bonding and using bonding models. This work aims to better understand how students evaluate the purposes, limitations, and affordances of commonly used models in chemistry but how their beliefs about models shape their conceptual understanding about bonding.

“It’s difficult for me to put into words exactly how much this accomplishment means to me and my family,” explains Dr. Fullington. “Receiving this award is one of the greatest accomplishments of my career thus far.” Dr. Fullington credits her mentor, Professor Sam Pazicni, and her colleague Dr. Tashiro for encouragement throughout the process. “I’m very thankful for the opportunity to continue pursuing my research and being a postdoc as it’s a job that I truly enjoy.”

Professor Pazicni’s pride is obvious, “I couldn’t be prouder that two of these fellowships were awarded to members of our team,” he states. “The future of chemistry education research is certainly in great hands with Dr. Fullington and Dr. Tashiro!”

According to the NSF, the STEM Ed PRF Program as a whole seeks to broaden the pool of researchers who can advance knowledge regarding STEM learning and learning environments, broadening participation in STEM fields, and STEM workforce development. The Program is designed to support postdoctoral fellows engaged in experiences that will advance their career goals by developing their expertise, skills, and competencies to conduct fundamental STEM education research. In addition, STEM Ed IPRF awards provide direct support to Fellows to enable them to engage in ongoing research, to develop independent research, and to implement an independent professional development plan under the guidance of a sponsoring researcher. Fellows must affiliate with an appropriate host organization and are expected to devote themselves full time to the fellowship activities for the duration of the fellowship.