Take 5 with Emily A. Dare, PhD
September 12, 2023
BATON ROUGE, LA - Get to know our new LSU SOE faculty member, Emily A. Dare, PhD!
Tell us about your professional journey and your current research interests. What
do you hope to accomplish in your first year at LSU?
The short(ish) version of my professional journey started when I made the switch from a PhD program in Physics to a PhD program in Curriculum and Instruction – STEM Education. I made this change (and moved halfway across the country from Boston to Minneapolis) after I realized that while I loved research and I loved science, I had many questions about how science (particularly physics) was taught. I was also keen to understand why the young women who came to my office hours as a Teaching Assistant were so negative about themselves when it came to physics learning. I began to more seriously question why there were so few women in physics when somehow I had persisted. What was it about physics and other STEM disciplines that made people not interested in pursuing these fields as a career? Was it related to the way it was taught? Or was it something else? Transitioning my research focus to science education was a natural fit!
While a graduate student at the University of Minnesota, the term STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Education began to rise in popularity due to new reform efforts taking place in K-12 education. The problem was, though, few K-12 educators knew what this meant for their practice, especially when STEM education really meant integrated STEM education. This is what has driven most of the work that I continue to do to this day, which has led to journal publications and has taken me to multiple conferences in the US and around the world (Ireland, Italy, Japan, and Australia). Supporting science teachers as they make changes to their instruction from a science-only perspective to an integrated STEM framework is at the heart of the work I do as a teacher educator and education researcher. As part of this, I’m also interested in how changes to instruction impact K-12 students’ achievement, interests, and attitudes. In the long run, I’m interested in finding ways to encourage girls and other historically minoritized groups to consider science and STEM for their futures. Most of my research is qualitative in nature as I am a natural observer and absolutely love hearing other people’s stories.
In my first year at LSU, I want to continue meeting as many people as possible to discover and forge partnerships and collaborations. I’ve already had some amazing conversations with faculty from all over campus and am excited to make some awesome things happen! Often on university campuses, ideas (along with people) can be really spread out. Being in science and STEM education means I don’t necessarily fit in one place. While it’s important to me to build partnerships within SOE, it is equally important to have conversations with faculty and students across the STEM disciplines. Through all of this, I also hope to make connections with local schools to continue and expand my research.
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 biggest difference - lots of purple and gold! And trees that aren’t just varieties of palm trees! But in all seriousness, what is extremely noticeable to me is the intense school spirit that I see shared all around campus by faculty, staff, and students. It is extremely clear to me just how much pride everyone has in LSU – it's infectious and perhaps accounts for the latest purple and gold additions to my wardrobe...
LSU and FIU are surprisingly close in enrollment with LSU being a little bit smaller. FIU also lacked having a LIVE TIGER (!!!) on campus; they did have a panther statue, but no real panthers on campus despite them being native to South Florida. I’m currently teaching a small graduate level class, so I’m a bit limited in my interactions with students at the moment. However, I have seen so much curiosity and intellect within the students enrolled in my course on Trends and Issues in Integrated STEM Education. I look forward to teaching undergraduate Elementary Education students in Spring 2024!
Tell us about you! What do you like to do in your free time when you’re not working?
Outside of work, I have two main hobbies that fill my time: my dogs and running! Both dogs are rescued German Shepherd mixes, and they are the best of friends. Riley and Eva absolutely love the Burbank Dog Park, so you’ll find us there a few times per week. When I’m not running around with them, I’m putting miles in on my growing sneaker collection! While not new to running as a way to stay in shape, I’ve only recently gotten involved with races. I started signing up for racing events in 2022 and completed 4 5ks, 4 10ks, and my first half marathon that year. I am currently in training mode for my third half marathon. It helps that I also love Disney World and have found much joy in participating in runDisney events! Who wouldn’t want to run through the parks starting at 5am with a 3am wakeup call?!
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?
Everyone that I have met has been so extremely welcoming! They’ve also been great sources of information as I learn my way around campus and navigate policies and procedures. No one seems to have tired of my many questions (and I have a lot of them) as I continue to learn. What stands out to me most is how everyone is such a rock star in their own right. Every single person is so well accomplished in their craft – I hope I can keep up!
What are you most excited for about LSU?
I feel like I’m supposed to say going to a sports event, but I’m genuinely excited to work with such amazing people on this beautiful campus! Corny, I know, but I’m truly jazzed about being here.