February 2023 Researcher Spotlight

Haylie Mikulak

Haylie Mikulak, PhD Student, at Auburn University, is the focus of the February 2023 GER Spotlight. Haylie's research focuses on "sense of belonging" in the atmospheric sciences. Read more below to learn about Haylie's research and interests.


1. What is the focus of your current geoscience education research?

My current research focuses on the influence of sense of belonging (i.e. how a person feels they fit in with a group or community) during undergraduate studies in atmospheric science on a person's career goals. Women and people from other marginalized groups in atmospheric science are less likely to pursue academia as a career path, so I was interested to see if a person's experiences and belonging during their undergraduate career influences the career path they choose. I hope to use the results of this study as an initial first step to develop a deeper understanding of the feelings and perceptions of individuals within the field in order to work towards increasing diversity and inclusion in the future.


2. What is your advice for someone who is interested in starting out in geoscience education research or scholarship of teaching and learning?

My advice for someone interested in starting out in GER is to get involved with organizations like NAGT. Groups like NAGT are an excellent opportunity to meet a variety of people within the field as well as learn about the latest research across the group. I also recommend reading lots of papers from different parts of education research and asking as many questions as possible to absorb as much information as you can. As someone who has only been in this field for two years, my biggest piece of advice is do not be afraid to ask for help because this is an amazing group of people who are willing to help and provide you with advice.   


3. What does GER look like at your institution, in your position? (ex. Are you in a geology department or college of ed? Do you work with other DBER folks? Do you have graduate students? Are you looking for graduate or undergraduate students? Etc.)

At Auburn University, I am a PhD Student in Dr. Karen McNeal's Geocognition research group, which is located in the Geosciences department. Auburn also has a unique opportunity to work with a larger DBER network on campus. We are able to work and collaborate with researchers in each of the departments in the College of Science and Mathematics (Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Mathematics). This allows us the ability to learn and grow from one another and examine education research from a different perspective.

You can learn more about Haylie here.