A better way for children to learn, through nature...
In Memoriam, James Howard Wandersee
(December 21, 1946 - January 24, 2014)
James Howard Wandersee’s career at Louisiana State University was marked with numerous achievements, including Marquette University’s National Distinguished Alumnus of the Year, the William Craig Outstanding University Educator Award, and the Charles Edwin Bessey Medal for lifetime achievement in botanical education. It is notable that both the botanical section of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Linnaean Society of London honored Jim with the recognition of Fellow. His service to the educational community is impressive. He authored books, articles, and professional presentations that not only span more than 40 years and 15 countries, but were also translated into seven languages. Jim Wandersee’s academic record documents outstanding scholarly research productivity in science education.
Jim’s research excellence and professional dedication also have far reaching impacts through the numerous doctoral students he mentored through the 15o Laboratory at Louisiana State University. Not only did he instill research ethics and professionalism, but he also built a community of scholars. He facilitated multiple networking opportunities each year for doctoral students and past graduates, including the annual 15o Lab Banquet. One highlight of the banquet was the announcement of the prestigious Giverny Award winner for the year, given to the outstanding children’s science picture book. However, attendees also acknowledge that discussions of scholarly publications, and the sharing of accomplishments and challenges, were incredibly rich and valuable experiences. The careful mentoring and guidance served former students well: Jim’s students make major research contributions in both national and international forums.
Jim Wandersee chaired my PhD committee, and we subsequently founded EarthScholarsResearch Group, the primary focus of which is to enhance the integration of geological and biological knowledge in science instruction. To date, EarthScholars Research Group produced 52 peer-reviewed journal articles, 16 book chapters, 49 electronic publications, and 156 research presentations. One research article, “Krakatoa Erupts!” was honored with the 2012 Gold (first prize) Association Media and Publishing EXCEL Award for outstanding feature article. Throughout the twelve years of our research program, EarthScholars presented research by invitation at many international forums, including the International Botanical Congress (Austria, South Africa), the International Geological Congress (Norway, Italy, Australia), and the Delta Research and Global Observation Network (Cambodia). EarthScholars also served as official interpretative science signage consultants for Missouri Botanical Garden’s Doris I Schnuck Children’s Garden, and designers for the Palmetto Trail at Barton Arboretum.
Jim Wandersee was highly respected around the world for his incredible research productivity, immense knowledge, and incredible insight on the state of science education research. Although EarthScholarswill maintain his research program and Jim’s impact will continue, the science education research community mourns the loss of a truly great leader in science education.