Archive for the ‘News’ Category

New Publication Alert!

Researchers have identified patterns of intuitive thinking that are commonly used to understand and reason about the biological world. These cognitive construals (anthropic, teleological, and essentialist thinking), while useful in everyday life, have also been associated with misconceptions about biological science. Although construal-based thinking is pervasive among students, we know little about the prevalence of construal-consistent language in the university science classroom. In the current research, we characterized the degree to which construal-consistent language is present in biology students’ learning environments. To do so, we coded transcripts of instructor’s speech in 90 undergraduate biology classes for the presence of construal-consistent language. Classes were drawn from two universities with very different student demographic profiles and represented 18 different courses aimed at nonmajors and lower- and upper-division biology majors. Results revealed construal-consistent language in all 90 sampled classes. Anthropic language was more frequent than teleological or essentialist language, and frequency of construal-consistent language was surprisingly consistent across instructor and course level. Moreover, results were surprisingly consistent across the two universities. These findings suggest that construal-consistent language is pervasive in the undergraduate classroom and highlight the need to understand how such language may facilitate and/or interfere with students learning biological science.

Click here to read more about this publication.

Betz, Nicole, et al. “Cognitive Construal-Consistent Instructor Language in the Undergraduate Biology Classroom.” CBE—Life Sciences Education 18.4 (2019): ar63.

Tiffy Nguyen

Current Position: Professor of Biology at San Jose City College
Degree: Master’s Degree in Biological Sciences
Advisor:  Kimberly Tanner, Ph.D.
Advise what you are up to now…
Tiffy is instructing full-time as the lead Human Anatomy professor at San Jose City College, where she also serves as the Human Anatomy Lab and Cadaver Room coordinator. 

Harrison, CD, Nguyen, TA, Seidel, SB, Escobedo, AM, Hartman, C, Lam, K, Liang, KS, Martens, M, Acker, GN, Akana, SF, Balukjian, B, Benton, HP, Blair, JR, Boaz, SM, Boyer, KE, Bram, JB, Burrus, LW, Byrd, DT, Caporale, N, Carpenter, EJ, Chan, YM, Chen, L, Chovnick, A, Chu, DS, Clarkson, BK, Cooper, SE, Creech, CJ, de la Torre, JR, Denetclaw, WF, Duncan, K, Edwards, AS, Erickson, K, Fuse, M, Gorga, JJ, Govindan, B, Green, LJ, Hankamp, PZ, Harris, HE, He, ZH, Ingalls, SB, Ingmire, PD, Jacobs, JR, Kamakea, M, Kimpo, RR, Knight, JD, Krause, SK, Krueger,Terrye, LE, Light, L, Lund, L, Márquez-Magaña, LM, McCarthy, BK, McPheron, L, Miller-Sims, VC, Moffatt, CA, Muick, PC, Nagami, PH, Nusse, G, Okimura, KM, Pasion, SG, Patterson, R, Pennings, PS, Riggs, B, Romeo, JM, Roy, SW, Russo-Tait, T, Schultheis, LM, Sengupta, L, Spicer, GS, Swei, A, Wade, JM, Willsie, JK, Kelley, LA, Owens, MT, Trujillo, G, Domingo, C, Schinske, JN, and Tanner, KD. Investigating Instructor Talk in Novel Contexts: Widespread Use, Unexpected Categories, and an Emergent Sampling Strategy. CBE—Life Sciences Education, 18(3), ar47. (2019) pdf

María Jose Pastor-Infantas



I am still trying to find my current project, but I know that I want to work with K-12 educators and provide them insight on how to build a more conducive, exciting, and equitable science classroom. 

About me

I was raised in San Diego, CA and came to San Francisco State University for my Bachelor’s. As a freshman, I was determined to pursue a career in animal behavior, but then found my passion for education and entomology. In 2014, I was a mentor of a pilot biology mentoring program called B.U.M.P., where first year students were paired with higher level undergraduate students. That same year, I also joined the “Zombee laboratory” and examined the parasitism preferences of the parasitoid fly, Apocephalus borealis. After I graduated in 2015, I was involved in multiple after school K-12 programs where I created science clubs and experiments based on active hands-on learning models and techniques. While at these programs, I found myself assisting some K-12 teachers by teaching them how to replicate and implement these science activities in their own classrooms. Now, I have returned to S.F. State to join SEPAL, so I can further my knowledge and be a better advocate for K-12 educators!

Investigating Instructor Talk in Novel Contexts: Widespread Use, Unexpected Categories, and an Emergent Sampling Strategy

Kimberly D. Tanner, along with thirty-seven faculty, staff and students featured, identifies the importance of teaching methods in classrooms and how this “Instructor Talk” greatly impacts the students’ capacity to retain knowledge lectured.

Tanner challenges the notion of only providing information for students that strictly follow the material of the lecture, insisting that it is also important to leave room for encouraging the student in order to better promote intellectual growth.

Click here to read more about it on the San Francisco State University website and here to read the published article!

Sahar Miry – UCSF

Sahar Miry, an SFSU Biology alumna (BS Physiology) and Bio699 HHMI FEST participant focusing on diversity and inclusion, has recently secured a new professional position as a Clinical Research Coordinator at UCSF!

As a Clinical Research Coordinator Sahar’s role consists of coordinating single/multiple clinical research studies, managing and reporting on study results to investigators, managing databases and comprehensive datasets, overseeing data integrity, and participating in reviews of study protocols.

She decided to pursue this position because she plans to pursue a Doctorate of Pharmacy degree. With this job, she would be working alongside the FDA and pharmacists as well, which would be a great  way to really experience the field and all that it entails. It also is preparing her to be an even better PharmD applicant!

New Publication Alert!

Science Advances – Evolving roles of scientists as change agents in science education over a decade: SFES roles beyond discipline-based education research 


To what extent have positions for science education specialists as change agents within science departments persisted and evolved over the past decade? We addressed this question by studying a population of Science Faculty with Education Specialties (SFES) first described in 2008. SFES are university science faculty who engage in undergraduate science education, K-12 science education, and/or research in science education. Compared to a decade ago, SFES are now more prevalent and more likely to be formally trained in science education. Many identify as discipline-based education researchers (DBER) but assert that their SFES and DBER roles are nonequivalent. SFES have garnered university administrator support through varied science education activities, and these insights into the evolving role of scientists in science education have implications for many stakeholders.


To learn more about this article, follow this link:


Also see an SFSU press release about the article here:

Dianna Cazarez


About Me

I grew up in Long Beach, CA and moved up north in 2009 to attend San Francisco State University where I graduated Fall 2015 with a BA in General Biology. As an undergraduate I worked with Jumpstart an Early Literacy Program, then with the Boys & Girls Club Afterschool School Program where I am currently employed. In the last 5 years I have moved up from a part time position to now the Director of Programs and Services serving over 3,00 Bay Area youth. In this position I’ve been given the opportunity to survey the impact STEM (emphasis on Science & Tech) programming has had on our youth and staff. My findings made me realize that k-12 schooling is not equipping our youth and future scientist with the tools to be successful in the sciences because it is not representative of what higher education science courses are really like. This is why I sought out a Master’s degree with SEPAL to help me figure out what I can do to change this cycle from continuing to occur and how we can support what happens in the classroom in our after-school programs.

While my research is yet undecided, I do have a couple of focuses that I am eager to explore. One is: how can we bridge the gap between CoSE undergrads and high school/middle school students to help them prepare for college level science courses? And if an infrastructure were set in place could we create a peer advising system that might be able to match compatibility and/or common research interest from current to incoming students? Although, these questions may or may not be my final research topics I think they are highly important and hope to keep them in mind while at SEPAL.

Matthew Boser

Matthew Boser

Degree: Master of Science in Physiology and Behavioral Biology

Advisor: Kimberly Tanner, PhD


About me

I didn’t travel more than a couple hours west of the Atlantic coast until taking a field assistant job in the Black Hills, South Dakota, on a team studying reproductive endocrinology in wild birds. I earned an A.S. from Asnuntuck Community College, and a B.S. in biology from Eastern Connecticut State University and shortly after relocated to Oakland, CA. I enjoy hearing and performing music, building music instrument amplifiers, birding, pets, fantasy and science fiction, and the outdoors.

Teaching and Research Interests

I began my instructional training in adult education for incarcerated people seeking a high school diploma. I’ve co-taught sex-positive sexuality education and discussion and laboratory courses for undergraduate students in nursing, kinesiology, and biology. The research and policy projects to which I’ve contributed include prevention of sexual violence and sexual harassment in educational environments and broadening professional development for graduate students. My current research asks if we can better understand and address the proximate causes of systemic neglect of particular groups of students by institutions of higher education and the sciences.


SFSU Alumni News from Dr. Melo Yap!

About Dr. Melo Yap

She was a first-generation college student. Her interdisciplinary training in Biology, Education, and Ethnic Studies shaped her versatility in using concurrent methodologies to advance research on underrepresented groups in STEM fields. At UCLA, she studied the influences to the scientific thinking of women of color STEM majors in the community college via mixed methods approach of qualitative questionnaire and critical network theory. She is also an alum of SFSU [B.A. Black Studies (now Africana Studies) & B.S. Physiology]—a SEPAL student and MARC Scholar at Dr. Vance Vredenburg’s research lab. She got her M.S. in Biological Sciences at CSULA, building theoretical models of biological systems. 

She is pursuing this project, because she believes that we should center the standpoint and voices of women of color in order to truly support them.  
About the Project
This project proposes to identify national trends in STEM pathways of women of color community college students and contextualize emergent and adaptive dynamics in their networks that influence their scientific thinking and navigational capital. To address the complexity of this understudied group’s academic journeys, we draw from interdisciplinary theoretical frameworks such as complex systems theory and Black feminist epistemology, and from mixed methods approaches such as statistical measures, network analysis, ecological diversity indices, and qualitative interviews. The project’s broader impact will contribute to transforming STEM access pathways for community college students, especially from underrepresented groups like women of color. Findings can inform diversity initiative programs of equitable strategies that center the perspective of an understudied group as primary stakeholders and central voices in their own success.

Jarred Dela Cruz!

Degree: MS Graduate Student | Department of Biology, SFSU
I am from Elk Grove, CA and completed my undergraduate degree in Biomedical Sciences at Sac State. I was heavily involved in various positions within Sac State’s Student Affairs Division and held positions within First Year Experience, New Student Orientation, and Student Services. In addition, I was also a volunteer researcher at The Mulligan Lab where I had the opportunity to use the common fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) to investigate interactions between epigenetic factors and genes during neural development. SEPAL manages to blend two of my interests, science and education, and I’m thrilled to be able to further explore both!
My research topic is yet to be determined.