Recruiting biology education research Ph.D. students at Cornell


My name is Michelle Smith and I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Cornell University ( I am hoping to recruit several Ph.D. students who are interested in biology education research.

I focus on questions such as:

  1. What are the origins of student conceptual difficulties in biology and how can instructors support students in overcoming these difficulties?

  2. What aspects of peer discussion make it an effective learning tool?

  3. What factors influence instructors’ decisions about teaching?

I am affiliated with the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB) field. However, the topics of study can be quite broad and one of the things I really enjoy about this program is that graduate students are given the opportunity to independently explore research questions that interest them.

Ph.D. students receive five years of TA support and are encouraged to teach for most of their program ( My research group participates in a weekly discipline-based education research journal club with over 20 attendees from many departments. We also have regular lab meetings with Dr. Natasha Holmes who is a Physics Education Researcher (

Also, Cornell has a new campus-wide Active Learning Initiative (

Discipline-Based Education Research is a growing area at Cornell; it is an exciting time to be involved.

Applications are due December 1, 2018. You can select either the ecology or evolutionary biology field on the application. Please also make sure to select my name from the drop down menu.

Several of the EEB faculty are interested in a co-mentoring model where part of the dissertation would be focused on biology education research and part would be focused on an ecology/evolutionary biology laboratory or field research question. If you are interested in this approach, please contact me and let me know what additional mentors are of interest to you.

Please let me know if you have any questions: If you are interested in the Ph.D. program, it would be great to briefly chat with you.

Thank you,

Michelle Smith, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Cornell University