Heather Lavender, PhD, Recognized for Dissertation

March 25, 2022

BATON ROUGE, LA - The LSU Alumni Association and the LSU Graduate School sponsor the Distinguished Dissertation Awards presented to two doctoral students whose research and writing demonstrate superior scholarship. LSU PhD graduate, Heather Lavender, was named runner up for the Distinguished Dissertation Award. Lavender’s dissertation titled The Young Black Girl: A Narration of STEM Identify through Science Origin in Elementary School focuses on the experiences of fifth grade Black girls in the science classroom and how these experiences shape interest and their belief that they could succeed in academia in STEM fields.
Lavender’s study illustrates that integration of cultural experiences is integral to developing interest and increased success in STEM irrespective of the resources available in school. Factors related to sociocultural identity and race affects Black female’s perception of being able to be successful in STEM. Lavender offers compelling information about ways to leverage resources and incorporate student’s experiences with the curriculum. Lavender’s work shows that culture, race, and identity are critical factors for developing curricula that provides opportunities for all students.

“This dissertation shows the breadth of the College of Human Sciences & Education in its pursuit to improve quality of life across the lifespan. Heather Lavender’s study and academic insights will have an indelible impact in our field," said Roland Mitchell, PhD, Dean of the College of Human Sciences & Education.

Lavender has been invited to present at international, national, and regional scientific conferences. She has multiple reports, book chapters, and manuscripts under review.

Heather Lavender, a Shreveport native and first-generation college graduate, earned her BS in Microbiology from LSU and her MS in Microbiology from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. While working as a researcher in a microbiology laboratory, Lavender often bridged her work in the lab to the K-12 community but did not know how to assess the educational aspect of what she was doing. Since she loved her work, Lavender brought her concerns to the LSU education department, thinking she would just take one class. Lavender later graduated from LSU with a PhD in Science Education in December 2021.

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