It is with great pleasure that we welcome Dr. Meena Balgopal to the Department of Biology as an Associate Professor of Science Education. Her move to biology (from the School of Education here at Colorado State) completes a long-standing goal for the department, where we have pursued filling a post in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education for more than a decade. Dr. Balgopal focuses her research on understanding how students learn through writing and how teachers develop both their base of knowledge and ability to effectively communicate with students. For the College of Natural Sciences, her hire helps us meet our goal of increasing the number of DBER’s (dee-burrs, Discipline-Based Education Researchers) across departments.
Before changing focus to science education during her doctoral work at North Dakota State University, Dr. Balgopal began her career as an entomologist studying the behavior and evolution of parasitoid wasps (those mostly tiny insects that make their living by destroying other insects… think of miniature “Aliens”). Her interests in education were piqued in graduate school in trying to understand why and how students resist learning about evolution. Understanding this requires knowing how students learn in general, and the nature of knowledge. Since then, Dr. Balgopal has not looked back, applying her experience as a biologist to researching STEM education. She came to Colorado State as an Assistant Professor in 2008. Dr. Balgopal has amassed quite a record of publishing research in science education and in successfully funding her research group. We could not be more pleased!