Emeritus Graduate Professor Gail Jones Named 2022 AERA Scholar

Gail Jones, former professor emeritus of science education at the NC State College of Education and senior fellow at the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation, has been named the 2022 AERA Fellow, the American Educational Research Association’s highest honor honoring outstanding contributions to educational research.

Jones is the second College of Education faculty member to receive this prestigious honor. Fellows are selected on the basis of significant academic contributions or substantial and innovative contributions to the field of education through research opportunities and settings.

“I have been fortunate to be able to work at the cutting edge of several fields, such as virtual reality, nanotechnology and the role of size and scale in science learning. It is an incredible honor to have been selected as an AERA Fellow,” said Jones.

“Gail is a champion of interdisciplinary working and has partnered with colleagues on campus and around the world in her study of learning. It is great to see the depth of her scholarship honored by this scholarship,” said Paola Sztajn, Acting Dean of the College of Education.

Jones said she had been interested in both science and teaching since childhood, and she realized early on that a career in education would give her the opportunity to explore both passions. While working as a science teacher, she developed an interest in researching science education as a way to improve teaching and address equity issues in schools.

“I am driven by a commitment to equity and a strong desire to support the science teachers who teach in our schools,” Jones said. “Teachers face more challenges than ever, and we owe these incredibly hardworking educators our support and gratitude.”

Jones, who received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biology from Appalachian State University and his Ph.D. in Science Education from NC State, studies science learning in a variety of sociocultural contexts and examines how specific subgroups of students, including historically marginalized students and those with visual impairments, learn.

She has been involved in a series of studies that examine the nanoscale in science education and leads the Nanoscale Science Education research group, which studies how people learn about scale, the role haptics in learning and effective strategies for learning nanoscale science.

She also directs the educational research arm of the $25 million NSF Science and Technology Center – Science and Technologies for Phosphorus Sustainability, a national research effort led by and located at NC State to reduce addiction to phosphorus. phosphates mined and the amount of phosphorus leaching into the soil. and water.

The project, Jones said, aims to facilitate a 25% reduction in human reliance on mined phosphate and a 25% reduction in phosphorus losses within 25 years. This reduction, she said, will lead to increased resilience of food systems and reduced environmental damage.

“It’s a huge challenge, but one that we believe can have a real, positive impact on the environment,” she said.

Jones said one of his most rewarding research projects was the National Science Foundation-funded FAME (Familys and Museums Exploring) project, which allowed Jones and his research team to work with three museums to provide family science programming throughout the year.

Through this work, Jones was able to connect community mentors with families. The results show that children in the program significantly increased their interest in science and their aspirations for careers in STEM fields. The program is now a model for engaging families in STEM nationwide.

A 2021 study co-authored by Jones, along with graduate professor emeritus Sarah Carrier, doctoral students Emma Refvem ’22PHD, Kathryn Rende ’22PHD and alum Megan Ennes ’19PHD, also focused on museums, finding that Museum volunteer programs could be an opportunity to recruit high school students into careers in science education and communication.

“It is truly gratifying to see that the educational materials and programs we are developing are making a positive difference in the lives of teachers and students, and it is very exciting to see my team’s recent research on creating interest and career aspirations used to support the development of young scientists and engineers,” said Jones. “I hope my work will be useful to teachers and informal educators as they teach the next generation about new innovations in science and technology. .”

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