Project team

The Belonging in Field Education project team is an interdisciplinary and cross-institutional collaboration. Read on to learn more about the individuals who make up the project team.

Research Team

Kari O’Connell, Ph.D.

STEM Research Center, Oregon State University

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Kari is a Senior Researcher and Program Lead of Authentic and Field-Based Learning with a background as a forest ecologist, undergraduate field research mentor, and director of a field station. She oversees a STEM learning research portfolio that includes a strong focus on access and inclusion in undergraduate field education as well as collaborative STEM education networks, public engagement in science, and ecological data literacy of K-12 teachers and students. When not at work, Kari enjoys skiing, rafting, trail running, reading, hanging out with family, and anything Harry Potter.

Stephanie Shaulskiy, Ph.D.

ADVANCE Program, University of Michigan

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Stephanie is a Research and Evaluation Specialist at the U-M ADVANCE Program, where she works on program evaluations, research studies, and departmental climate assessments. Before joining the ADVANCE team, Stephanie worked as the Program Evaluation Coordinator for the Transforming Learning Program at the University of Michigan Biological Station, where she evaluated the effectiveness of new courses and field-based programs. She attended the University of Arizona, graduating with honors in Psychology and earned her doctorate in educational psychology in 2016 from The Ohio State University. Her research interests focus on the importance and development of belonging in educational settings.

Alison Jolley (AJ), Ph.D.

Te Puna Ako – Centre for Tertiary Teaching & Learning, University of Waikato, Aotearoa New Zealand

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AJ is a field education researcher and academic developer with a background in geoscience. She is particularly interested in understanding the affective outcomes of field experiences and empowering faculty to support affective outcomes in their practice. When not in the field (or more accurately in front of a computer), AJ enjoys surfing, live music, travel, and watching marathons of The Office. 

Holly Cho

STEM Research Center, Oregon State University

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Holly is a researcher whose interests lie at the intersection of STEM higher education and social justice. In addition to her research portfolio, she also serves as program coordinator for the InclusiveExcellence at OSU program, which provides professional development to STEM faculty fellows seeking to incorporate social justice pedagogy into their practice.


Evaluation for this project is being conducted by Dr. Lucas Hill from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Lucas B. Hill, Ph.D. 

Portrait of Lucas

Lucas is an evaluator and associate researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the Wisconsin Center for Education Research (WCER). His work focuses on complex, collaborative higher education reform, particularly related to systems evaluation, faculty and the adoption of evidence-based pedagogical practices, and broadening participation in STEM education. He earned his PhD in higher, adult, and lifelong education from Michigan State University.

Advisory board

Chris Lorentz, PhD.

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Chris is a Professor of Biological Sciences at Thomas More University and Director of the  Ohio River Biology Field Station. He is currently serving as President of the Organization of Biological Field Stations. He will partner in recruitment of field stations and marine labs (FSML) faculty for both the research and CoP, advise on practicality and relevance of the suite of promising practices, and serve as special advisor to the project as a member of the CoP steering committee.

Erin Shortlidge, PhD. 

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Erin is an Assistant Professor of Biology at Portland State University and runs a Biology Education Research Lab. Her work includes designing and testing outcomes from course-based undergraduate research experiences, and studying the factors that lead to a sense of belonging and integration into science for students underrepresented in STEM. She will advise on research design and development of the promising practices as well as serve as special advisor to the project as a member of  the CoP steering committee. 

Nia Morales, PhD. 

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Nia is an Assistant Professor in the University of Florida’s Wildlife Ecology and  Conservation Department where her research focuses on justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in conservation and outdoor recreation. She has strong expertise in qualitative research methods. She will advise on research design and development of promising practices.  

Emily M. Geraghty Ward, PhD. 

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Emily is an Education and Outreach Associate with CIRES (Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences) and University of Colorado Boulder. Ward’s research focuses on the design and assessment of place-based geoscience interventions and was formerly the President of the National Geoscience Teachers Association – Geoscience Education Research Division. She will advise on project and research design and connect the project to the Geosciences Education Community.

graduate assistants

Holly White

Holly is a PhD candidate at University of Maine in the Ecology and Environmental Sciences program. She has a background in geoscience education research and her current work involves assessing the impact of undergraduate research participation on students’ sense of belonging and self-efficacy. Outside of work, Holly enjoys trail running, climbing, and knitting.

Amanda Morrison

Amanda is a PhD student at Oregon State University in the Science/Mathematics Education program. She has a background in informal science education, K-12 science teaching, and designing and conducting science teacher professional development aligned with current ecology research projects. Her research interest is in teacher participation in research experiences for teacher programs. Outside of work, Amanda enjoys yoga, hiking, and traveling.

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