Light bulb moments are what inspire Dr. Carrie Bucklin, assistant professor of biology at Southern Utah University, and those moments of keen understanding from her students remind her why she became an educator.
“I am motivated to keep going and trying to become a better educator every time I see that moment in a student's eyes,” said Bucklin. “Every time, it makes me want to become better.”
Bucklin graduated with her Bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from the University of Missouri in 2008. Bucklin later earned her Master’s degree from the University of Southern Mississippi in 2010 in science and mathematics education and also a Ph.D in biological sciences.
This mindset of teaching others to learn has always been present in Bucklin’s life. In high school she worked on a ranch as a horseback riding instructor and as an undergraduate she was a peer advisor. After graduating from the University of Missouri, Bucklin worked as an intern for the Saint Louis Zoo and their educators. When her internship ended she returned to the university to gain more experience. It was there that she had a life changing revelation after speaking with her teaching assistant.
“My TA was talking with me about her research,” said Bucklin. “She was trying to understand why students had a hard time understanding plant systematics. I had a mind-blowing moment, I didn't realize people could do research about how to educate students. I realized that the best way to research how to help people learn, was to help them by becoming an educator.”
She brought her love of education with her to SUU in August of 2016, where she has since taught many introductory biology courses. She currently teaches the following classes:
- BIOL 1010: Introduction to Biology
- BIOL 1015: Introduction to Biology Lab
- BIOL 1020: Human Biology
- BIOL 1025: Human Biology Lab
- BIOL 1610: General Biology
- BIOL 1625: General Biology Lab I
- BIOL 1620: General Biology II
Bucklin is working on multiple research projects including animal movement patterns after the Brian Head forest fire, how to reduce pollution through behavioral changes, and how to keep students in STEM fields in the U.S. Virgin Islands as part of the Supporting Emerging Aquatic Scientists (SEAS) Your Tomorrow program. The SEAS Your Tomorrow project, which received over $280,000 in grant money from the National Science Foundation with $19,000 specific to SUU, targets students in the Virgin Islands, a place with a very diverse demographic student population, and gathers data on what engages students in STEM fields and what may turn them away. This is one of 37 programs that make up the "Inclusion Across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science" program -- or NSF INCLUDES.
“At the end of the day, if I can reach just one student, then I feel like that day was a success,” said Bucklin. “I believe that students need to be given the tools to build their own knowledge by connecting new information with things they already know. I am always looking for students to want to get involved with education research. Sometimes the best way to become a better learner is to research what makes people better learners.”