Take 5 with Joshua Ellis, PhD
September 26, 2023
BATON ROUGE, LA - Get to know our new LSU SOE faculty member, Joshua Ellis, PhD!
Tell us about your professional journey and your current research interests. What do you hope to accomplish in your first year at LSU?
I started my educational career as a K-12 science teacher in the Twin Cities, working
at high-needs schools in the Saint Paul Public Schools, Minneapolis Public Schools,
and Robbinsdale Area Schools districts. I witnessed the successes and challenges that
both students and teachers experience in these environments, and I became increasingly
interested in ways to support teaching within and beyond the K-12 classroom. I enrolled
in a Ph.D. program in Curriculum and Instruction – STEM Education at the University
of Minnesota, where I explored the potential for online/distance education to bring
together K-12 teachers that are separated by large geographic distances. At the time,
it was a novel idea to involve these teachers in online communities of practice and
support them even if they’re geographically far apart...clearly, the value of that
idea has only grown since then!
As an associate professor, I continue to engage in research that facilitates the development of pre-service and in-service teachers’ professional practice in online, blended, and face-to-face learning environments. I’m interested in the role of technology-mediated learning experiences for both K-12 and adult learners in STEM education environments. In my first year at LSU, I hope to continue using research to inform the design of new, innovative pedagogical strategies that can benefit our students at LSU, our local K-12 teachers, and future Tigers!
You just started working at LSU after five years as a professor at Florida International University. What is your biggest takeaway about the difference? What do you notice about the difference in school size, culture, and students?
The first thing that I noticed from simply walking around campus is the energy that students and faculty bring to what they do. As I walk through the Quad, I can hear rich conversations happening all around me – people are asking meaningful questions, wanting to learn from each other, and having a good time doing it. (Some people are cramming for exams, and that’s okay too.) A campus culture like that draws you in and makes you excited to be a part of what’s happening here, and I don’t think you can put a price tag on that feeling. Students in my course this semester (Knowing and Learning in Mathematics and Science) are curious, knowledgeable, and not afraid to take some intellectual risks...it doesn’t get any better than that.
Tell us about you! What do you like to do in your free time when you’re not working?
My two primary hobbies are music and biking. Piano is my primary instrument, but I play a little guitar for variety sometimes. I played in some small bands in the Twin Cities during my undergraduate and graduate years to make a little spending money – although we didn’t get rich and famous, it was a wonderful experience to play live with other talented musicians and make the crowd happy! I enjoy biking on trails (paved or dirt), but you’ll most likely see me riding around campus on a commuter bike that I built from old parts. It’s a great way to exercise, and it sure beats parking a car on campus!
What is your favorite thing so far about being at LSU? What stands out for you after
only being at LSU for a few short weeks?
The people here are simply outstanding. It’s a privilege to work with students and faculty that are talented, humble, and eager to make a difference. That may sound cheesy, but it’s not something that you’ll find everywhere, and boy does it stand out when you find it.
What are you most excited for about LSU?
I’m excited to be a part of it, plain and simple! I hope to continue making new friends, meeting new scholars, and joining in the exciting initiatives that are underway here.