LSU PhD Student, Heather Lavender, Selected as SEC Emerging Scholar

Baton Rouge, LA - PhD Science Education student, Heather Lavender, was recently selected as an SEC Emerging Scholar. The SEC Emerging Scholars Program is meant to encourage top scholars from historically underrepresented groups and provide them with the opportunity to seek out employment and mentorship within the SEC. After successfully defending her dissertation a week prior, Lavender earned the opportunity to attend the SEC Emerging Scholars Workshop where she was able to visit with representatives of all SEC universities and discuss a range of topics, including the hiring process. When asked what she enjoyed most about the workshop, Lavender replied, “I felt that they [faculty] were honest and presented their authentic selves in answering the questions we asked.” Lavender also discussed with faculty the value of being selected as an SEC Scholar and her goals for the future in the SEC. Lavender says that in the future she hopes to be writing to the SEC Emerging Scholars Program with news of being an Assistant Professor, an Associate Professor, a Professor, and even perhaps a Chairman of her department.  

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 will graduate with her PhD in Science Education in December 2021.

Lavender’s research interests include women in STEM careers, visual presentation through propaganda of STEM to marginalized populations, and the stories of women in STEM. She is also interested in the development of the elementary age child’s science identity, through science exposure and experiences in the science classroom, particularly with emphases on girls of color.  

Lavender has a message for aspiring graduate students: “Go for it! Stay focused. Get in touch with other graduate students and develop your village. Be patient. Don’t rush this process because it is not an easy one. Assess what you don’t know and seek ways to not be in a status of not knowing. Be honest with yourself in what you don’t know and make a path to change that status."

Find out more about the SEC Emerging Scholars program.

Find out more about LSU's PhD in Science Education.