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Welcome to the 2024 SABER Elections

Candidate List for President-Elect


Jamie Jensen

Melanie Melendrez-Vallard

Michael Moore


Candidate List for Secretary

Kristy Daniel

Sheela Vemu


*Clicking on a candidate's name will take you to that candidate's information*
Candidate's names are listed in alphabetical order by the candidate's last name.

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Candidate Bios

*Listed Alphabetically by Last Name*



Jamie Jensen (candidate for president-elect)

Professor
Brigham Young University
https://biology.byu.edu/directory/jamie-jensen

History of SABER Involvement

I have been attending SABER since its third meeting (I believe) in 2013. I have presented numerous times (short talks, long talk, posters). I also served on the Abstract committee for several years and as chair for a couple years, as well. I now serve on the Data Analysis & Stewardship Committee. I consider SABER the premier organization of my discipline. From my first meeting, I have considered SABER the place where I hone my skills, discover new methodologies, improve my understanding of the latest pedagogical principles, and rub shoulders with like-minded people. It has played a critical role in my development as a DBER scholar. However, recently, I have felt that less so.

Professional Activities Aligned with SABER Mission

Currently, I practice DBER as a Full Professor in the Department of Biology at Brigham Young University. I am heavily involved in research on science teaching, science communication, and faculty development. I have expertise in a variety of research methodologies and educational theories. I regularly publish in educational journals and contribute to the scholarly field. I have also been on several committees and leadership positions at SABER so I am very familiar with the organization.

Rationale for Interest in SABER Leadership

I will be honest and up front about this. I was actually NOT seeking a leadership position at SABER. I feel like I have donated a lot of time to SABER and I am happy to let others lead. However, I am seeing a gradual shift away from the “Show Me the Data” mentality that Mary Pat painstakingly established and perhaps even a shift away from our original goal as a community dedicated to the scholarship related to the teaching and learning of biology, specifically. I would like to see the organization return to its roots, where participants come away with better ideas, refined methods, new instrumentation, new theoretical rationales, more collaborators, and greater frameworks for pursuing the scholarship of biology-based education research.


Recent Scholarly Contributions in Biology Education Research

My recent publications have focused on the scholarship of effective science communication (mostly within the undergraduate biology classroom) on controversial science topics with foci on evolution and vaccines, specifically. I have published 9 articles and a book in the last year and a half and have an additional 6 articles in review currently. I also regular receive and contribute to NSF grants on DBER topics. I present regularly at SABER, along with my graduate and undergraduate students.

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Melanie Melendrez-Vallard (candidate for president-elect)

Instructor of Biology

Anoka Ramsey Community College

www.anokaramsey.edu

History of SABER Involvement

I first attended SABER in 2019. Since then I have attended the annual SABER meeting every year and participated in the Community College SIG and PEER SIG. In 2023, I took on the role of interim SABER secretary. Serving as the SABER secretary has been very rewarding, learning about everything that goes into running a society as big as SABER. SABER 2019 was my first introduction into BER and the community has served as support and motivation as I explore this field. I am starting my first education study in Fall 2024 looking at the impact of prerequisites and student demographic data on success in upper division biology courses, specifically in Microbiology.


Professional Activities Aligned with SABER Mission

I am an active community college member of SABER and the American Society of Microbiology (undergraduate education focus). At ARCC I am faculty development co-chair and manage opportunities for 300+ faculty. I work on ARCCs equity initiative and have served as interim SABER Secretary since September 2023 allowing me to learn and contribute to societal governance. I am Co-PI on a NSF grant: Biological Data Science Education that will provide curricular modules, train, and mentor faculty from community colleges and MSIs in data analysis techniques to facilitate teaching and research. These are all skills that will facilitate the role of SABER President elect.

Rationale for Interest in SABER Leadership

I am committed to seeing an increase in 2-year college representation, which is currently underrepresented in the SABER membership, within leadership of all societies which is what drew me to this role initially. I want to participate in recruiting, advocating, and creating opportunities that encourage 2-year faculty to take an active role in education research at their institutions and seek mentorship opportunities. I am very organized and believe in providing the 2-year perspective to help mold what SABER offers so it can expand its membership to faculty that may not have otherwise considered the society as relevant to their professional development.

Recent Scholarly Contributions in Biology Education Research

NSF Grant 2316223 - RCN-UBE: Sustainable, nationwide network to promote reproducible big-data analysis in biology programs within community colleges and minority serving institutions (2023-2028); ARCC SoTL Project: The difference in student performance in a microbiology course before and after changes in the biology prerequisite (2023-2025; IRB pending); Curriculum applications in microbiology: Bioinformatics in the classroom (Frontiers in Microbiology Editorial, 2021);  RCN: Case-Based Active Science Education (CASE) Fellow 2024-2025

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Michael Moore (candidate for president-elect)
Director of Undergraduate Research and Mentoring
University of Arkansas at Little Rock

History of SABER Involvement
Being a part of SABER means two things to me, being part of a community that: 1) is caring, supportive, and prides itself on helping each other become the best versions of themselves they can be and 2) that unapologetically pursues equity and justice for our students and colleagues in our colleges and universities. I am fortunate to have been a SABER member since 2016. I have experienced SABER as a graduate student, a postdoc, and now as a professor giving me a wide-ranging perspective on how SABER strives to serve these groups and how we can do better. I have been an active SABER member serving on the inaugural SABER steering committee, the growth and development committee, a conference abstract reviewer, and a SABER buddies team leader.

Professional Activities Aligned with SABER Mission
To disseminate, support, and grow the footprint of biology education research requires someone with not only experience wiring grants and publications which I have, but also leading local and national efforts to help folks transition into carers that best align with their interests and goals all of which I have done. I have led workshops on such topics as: 1) grant writing, 2) transitioning into DBER research, 3) building and presenting research posters, 4) what you can do with a DBER degree, 4) improving teaching (MoSI), 5) creating inclusive meetings, conferences, and classes (iEMBER), and 6) how to use Learning Assistants in their classes. I’ve also worked across several units within my institution supporting institutional change.

Rationale for Interest in SABER Leadership
The common thread that connects everything I do on a national, regional, and local level all centers on two principles: 1) ensuring those around me have the resources and support they need to be successful in their careers and 2) celebrating them for the success they achieve. I believe these are the primary functions of the president of SABER. If I am fortunate enough to get elected as president, my primary goal will be to listen to the SABER membership as collectively we seek to make SABER a place where all feel welcomed and valued. I have also been fortunate to hold office in several other professional organizations. These service opportunities have provided me with, 1) a network of experts and 2) a wealth of experience to draw on.

Recent Scholarly Contributions in Biology Education Research
Over the past several years, my scholarship has spanned areas such as building inclusive conferences, learning assistant training, 21st-century skill development, motivation for active learning in biology classes, the impacts of flipped learning, and building CURES. My current research interest is in understanding and measuring student inclusion perceptions and behaviors in STEM education. I have published 12 articles, presented 14 referred talks, and successfully co-PIed 3 NSF grants.

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Kristy Daniel (candidate for secretary)
Professor
Texas State University
https://www.bio.txst.edu/faculty-staff/kristy-daniel.html

History of SABER Involvement
Since 2013, I have been an active member of SABER, contributing to 9 presentations at the annual meeting and six sessions at SABER West. My dedication to SABER extends beyond these events. I have been instrumental in sending students to the meetings, encouraging colleagues to join the society, and participating in regional meetings. I have also served as an official mentor for SABER-affiliated research groups. For me, SABER is not just a society but a community that strives to uplift all biology education researchers, making advances within our field and improving the rigor and value of our contributions through research and our network. 

Professional Activities Aligned with SABER Mission
My current professional activities have equipped me with the necessary qualifications for this position. As an Executive Director on the National Association of Biology Teachers and the Informal Science Education Association of Texas boards, I have gained a strong understanding of board service, addressing organizational needs, and policy negotiation within a budget. My experience in successful project management and maintaining auditable records further enhances my suitability for the role of secretary of SABER.

Rationale for Interest in SABER Leadership
I am committed to helping SABER grow as a leader on policy issues and research practices within biology education. I strongly believe in supporting capacity-building and coaching efforts to strengthen the next generation of biology education researchers and provide a professional home for all biology education research scholars. Furthermore, I thrive on facilitating networks among colleagues. 

Recent Scholarly Contributions in Biology Education Research
I explore biology representation through three capacities: exploring representational competence within college biology courses to understand how learners make sense of and use visual depictions of science; improving how scientists represent themselves and their research to others through science communication; and increasing representation in biology by normalizing science within local community activities and broadening participation. My research program has been awarded over $4.5 million in external funding, supported 94 student and postdoc research projects, generated one edited book, nine book chapters, 37 refereed journal articles, 40 refereed conference proceedings papers, ~200 presentations and workshops, & 23 other products. 

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Sheela Vemu (candidate for secretary)
Associate Professor
Waubonsee Community College
www.waubonsee.edu

History of SABER Involvement
I've had the opportunity to participate in five national SABER meetings held in Minneapolis actively. In 2022, I presented a poster on Evidence of an Effective Study Strategy Intervention in a Community College Biology course, which was subsequently published. I was inspired to discuss pedagogical transformation using BER on a Two-Year Section panel at the National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT). In 2023, I co-led a SABER Special Interest Group (SIG) for Community Colleges, which led to becoming part of the organizing committee to lead the first Regional Midwest SABER at St Louis. 

Professional Activities Aligned with SABER Mission
My current academic position as a two-year faculty member in a Hispanic-serving institution with a high % of First generation college-bound students presents unique challenges and opportunities. My involvement with the Community College Anatomy and Physiology Educational Research (CAPER) project and serving as Guest Editor for the special issue of CBE-Life Sciences Education (LSE) on Community College Biology Education Research has been invaluable. These roles have provided me with invaluable insights into how we can change our perspectives and policies to transform the two-year ecosystem into a more inclusive and equitable space.

Rationale for Interest in SABER Leadership
I am excited to contribute to SABER's collective leadership and make it more representative and inclusive for scholars from community colleges, minority-serving institutions, and other underrepresented institutions. SABER can increase its membership and influence other disciplinary organizations to form collaborations that will help disseminate BER findings to classroom practitioners.  My role as a monitoring editor for LSE has allowed me to see the relationship between innovative scholarly work and its application and understanding in an educational context.  I envision SABER as a leading force in promoting inclusive and evidence-based teaching practices, and I am committed to working towards this vision in my elected office.

Recent Scholarly Contributions in Biology Education Research
Supporting biology education research at community colleges: Implementing and adapting evidence-based practices. 2022(199), 201-213.Cotter, R., Kiser, S., Rasmussen, J., & Vemu, S. (2022).  https://doi.org/10.1002/cc.20534 

Moving the Needle: Evidence of an Effective Study Strategy Intervention in a Community College Biology Course Sheela Vemu, Kameryn Denaro, Brian K. Sato, Matthew R.Fisher, and Adrienne E. Williams CBE-Life Sciences Education 2022 21:2  

Gordon Research Conference Fellow for Community College Biology Education, 2019  Presented a research poster titled, Promoting metacognition in STEM for first-year students in a Hispanic Serving Institution to Foster Student Learning.




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