A better way for children to learn, through nature...
Background Information on the EarthScholars
Associate Professor Renee M. Clary, of the Department of Geosciences at Mississippi State University, and the lateW. H. "Bill" Leblanc Alumni Association Departmental Endowed Professor Emeritus Jim Wandersee, of the School of Education, College of Human Sciences and Education at Louisiana State University, co-founded the EarthScholars Research Group in 2003.
Their research group's primary focus is the integration of geological AND biological (chiefly botanical) knowledge during science instruction, in both formal and informal settings. Current areas of their research include (a) the incorporation of the history of geology/biology to improve science understanding, (b) the improvement of visual geology/biology learning through innovative visualization strategies, (c) the maximization of geology/biology learning opportunities and experiences in informal educational settings and at field sites, and (d) the monitoring and improvement of public understanding of geology/biology.
Both Dr. Renee Clary and, until his death, Dr. Jim Wandersee, remained close to their respective sciences by continuing to conduct, present, and publish geological and botanical scientific research, as well as to attend major scientific professional meetings world-wide.
In 2012, they won the Gold Excel Award from the nation's Association Media & Publishing for their co-authored professional journal feature article, "1883 News Report-Krakatoa Erupts! A Biology-Geology Integration Inquiry."
Dr. Renee M. Clary was a Geology Instructor at South Louisiana Community College and an Assistant Professor of Geology at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette before advancing to her current associate professorship in the Department of Geosciences at Mississippi State University.
Dr. Clary is the Director of the Dunn-Seiler Museum located on the campus of Mississippi State University. It houses mineral and rock collections, meteorites, and extensive fossil displays that facilitate viewer understanding of the 4.6 billion year history of Earth.
Professor Clary is a both highly experienced nation-wide teacher in and an expert researcher of on-line geology courses--a veteran and frequent presenter for the Teachers in Geosciences Program at MSU's Center for Distance Education.
She was appointed as a Research Fellow of the Geosystems Research Institute at Mississippi State University.
She received her Ph.D. in Science Curriculum and Instruction from Louisiana State University in May 2003, as a member of the 15-Degree Laboratory Research Group, working in the area of geology education. She currently serves as the Director of the 15 Degree Laboratory Research Group.
Her dissertation on the visual geology education contributions of British geologist Henry T. De la Beche, founder of the British Geological Survey, was conducted in leading UK and US historical archives, using a carefully identified and targeted set of geological manuscripts.
She is an expert on the use of illustrations in early geology textbooks during the Golden Age of Geology. She holds master’s degrees in both geology and science education.
Her microfossil research on a USGS Arctic Ocean core identified Pleistocene layers through benthonic foraminiferal zones, as well as unusual trends in dropstone deposition and calcareous dissolution. Her micropaleontological research skills and accomplishments led to her being named the University of Louisiana at Lafayette's "Outstanding Graduate Student" as part of the Richard G. Neiheisel Phi Beta Kappa Endowed Award. She was also previously named the "Outstanding Graduate in the College of Sciences" there. Dr. Clary was awarded a prestigious Louisiana Board of Regents Fellowship in geology.
In addition to her EarthScholars educational research, Dr. Clary conducts geology research in paleontology and geochemistry, and she has led field trips to Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, and numerous Western US fossil sites. She is the editor of textbook chapters on the Geology of Louisiana, and serves as a consultant to and ancillary author for several geology textbook publishers.
She is highly adept at using learning technologies such as digital microscopy, electronic classroom response systems ("clickers"), online course management systems, SMART classrooms, and visualization media to teach geoscience to 21st-century students, and she has been highly successful in receiving grant support for such projects.
She received the the Outstanding College Science Teacher Award from the Mississippi Science Teachers Association, and the 2015 Outstanding Science Teacher from the Mississippi Academy of Science.
Dr. Clary served as the Chair for the History and Philosophy of Geology Division of the Geological Society of America, and as a Councilor for the History of Earth Sciences Society.
She is the Mississippi Representative for the National Earth Sciences Teachers Association, the National Association of Geoscience Teachers, and the Society for College Science Teachers, and is a member of the Advisory Board for NSTA Reports.
Dr. Clary served as Chair of the Science Education section officer of the Mississippi Academy of Sciences, 2013-2014.
She was elected as a prestigious lifetime Fellow of the Geological Society of London (FGS) at Burlington House in 2006 and she has been an invited presenter at numerous UK scientific conferences.
Dr. Jim Wandersee (1946-2014) was LSU’s first William LeBlanc Alumni Association Professor of Biology Education.
In 2003, he was named as the first recipient of the William W. Craig Outstanding University Educator Award, administered by the Louisiana Science Teachers Association.
In 2004, he was the first science educator ever to receive the Louisiana Certificate of Commendation from Governor Kathleen Blanco and the Louisiana Legislature at the state capitol for his efforts to improve science education in the State of Louisiana. For example, he authored the founding draft of the Louisiana Science Framework and servednumerous times as an educational research presenter for the Louisiana Board of Regents.
In 2006 he was named an IBC Scientist of the Year (Cambridge, UK) for his contributions to research in botany education.
He received the university-wide 2008 LSU Rainmaker Award for excellence in research..
He served as the associate editor of the Journal of Research in Science Teaching for 5 years and another 3 years as the North American Editor of the International Journal of Science Education.
He was elected to the Board and as the Secretary-Treasurer for the National Association of Biology Teachers.
He has chaired the Science Education Research Program of the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association.
He served on the Publications Committee of the National Science Teachers Assocciation.
He was the 2006-2008 elected Chair of the Teaching Section of the Botanical Society of America.
Dr. Wandersee produced more than 250 peer-reviewed publications and presentations--with publications translated into 6 languages.
He was named as one of the top 50 most-established science education researchers in the world by the NARST. A co-authored research paper of his was voted one of the 12 most influential science education research papers ever published by the most-cited Journal of Research in Science Teaching (out of the thousands of articles) at the journal's 40th anniversary celebration in 2003.
He received the 2007 Charles Edwin Bessey Award from the Botanical Society of America for lifetime contributions to botany education research.
He was appointed to and served on the High School Biology Commitee of the National Research Council in Washington, DC.
He received the AAAS rosette pin from the noted Harvard University professor and AAAS President, Stephen J. Gould, to symbolize his election as a lifetime Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (FAAAS), within the Biological Sciences Section, in Washington, DC.
He served as a science education research consultant, evaluator, and presenter for the Harvard University Science Media group in Cambridge, MA for over 20 years.
He served through 2013 on the editorial boards of these journals: Science and Education (the Netherlands) and the Science Education Review (Australia).
In 1989, he founded LSU Science Talk, a quarterly science education newspaper which he edited for 21 years.
He was the founder of the 15-Degree Laboratory, which was the largest biology education research group in the US ((http://www.15DegreeLab.com).
In addition to his educational research, his botanical research on the phytomorphology and ecophysiology of Louisiana native dwarf palmetto plants (Sabal minor) was conducted on a 3-acre woodland plot at the LSU Agricultural Center's Burden Research Station.
Dr. Wandersee served as an external doctoral examiner for the University of Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), The University of Kwa Zulu-Natal (South Africa), and the Queensland University of Technology (Australia).
He received the 2011 Marquette University Alumnus of the Year Award.
He received the the 2013 Samuel L. Postlethwait Award from the Botanical Society of America for lifetime contributions to botany teaching.
Dr. Wandersee passed away on January 24, 2014. He will be greatlyl missed by his colleagues, his students, and his friends.
Dr. Renee Clary and Dr. Jim Wandersee also served as science educational consultants to botanical gardens and fossil parks. Most recently, they helped design the signage system at the new $5 million Doris I. Schnuck Children's Garden at Missouri Botanical Garden. They have developed and erected a 25-station Palmetto Trail for children at the Barton Arboretum within Burden Research Center.
Their innovative research and development work bridged multiple categories: namely, their two research universities; their two science disciplines (geology and botany); the historical archives of those two sciences; biological and geological science societies; 5 continents; visual and verbal research methods; bio-geo classrooms, field sites, laboratories; public informal science education sites; and the gender gap.
The guiding motto of all their work is: "A better way for children to learn, through nature."