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Associate Professor



Debra earned both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Biology from the University of Akron. She earned her Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolution in 1999 from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey working on optimal foraging theory in benthic polychaetes. Debra taught as an adjunct at Rutgers for three years before moving to a post-doctoral research position in biology education at Michigan State University working with Dr. Diane Ebert-May. She then accepted a faculty position at Cuyahoga Community College in Parma, Ohio and taught there for two years before joining the faculty at Central Michigan University as a fixed-term faculty member in 2006. She also taught as an adjunct at Mid-Michigan Community College for several years before accepting a tenure-track position in at CMU in 2009. Her research focuses on biology education and science teacher training.

  • Postdoctoral Researcher, Michigan State University, 2002-2004
  • Ph.D., Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, 1999
  • M.S., University of Akron, 1992
  • B.S., University of Akron, 1990
My research is focused on biology education at all levels. I conduct research in undergraduate biology education, including testing the effectiveness of inquiry-based instruction, cooperative group work, undergraduate research experiences, and newly designed instructional modules in promoting student learning in biology. I am currently Co-PI on an NSF-funded RCN-UBE grant working to integrate biodiversity data literacy into undergraduate biology curricula. I also work on improving K-16 teacher quality in the life sciences through research on preservice teacher training.

Courses Taught

  • Foundations of Evolution and Diversity (BIO 111)
  • Life Science for Elementary Teachers (BIO 165)
  • Foundations of Form and Function (BIO 212)
  • Teaching Biology (BIO 502)
  • Teaching Integrated Science in Secondary School (SCI 400)
  • Teaching Integrated Science K-8 (SCI 410)