This award was updated in 2023.
The Transformation Award is linked to the advanced career stage, associated with generativity and transformation that represent investments in GER scholars across generations. To be eligible for this award, a nominee must be an active member of the NAGT-GER Division. Furthermore, it is recommended (but not required) that the nominee be 15 years or more into their GER career. This award honors colleagues who have made and continue to make outstanding contributions to GER, GER's applications to geoscience education, and capacity building within the GER community commensurate with an advanced career stage.
Examples of outstanding contributions to GER, GER's applications to geoscience education, discipline-specific research contributions to geoscience education, and capacity building within the GER community commensurate with an advanced career stage may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Contributing to the development of GER as a scholarly field
- Presenting in GER and/or STEM education conference sessions
- Publishing in GER and/or STEM education journals
- Publishing in traditionally non-GER journals
- Improving a sense of belonging, accessibility, justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in geoscience
- Educating others to apply GER and/or STEM education research to course and curriculum development
- Educating others on how to apply GER and/or STEM education research to their teaching
- Developing collaborations that generate productive lines of GER
- Leading capacity-building GER activities
- Educating others on how to mentor a diversity of scholars
- Sharing research expertise with GER and non-GER communities (e.g., mentorship of high school students, undergraduate students, graduate students, and/or peers)
The Transformation Award recipient will receive (1) a complimentary one-year membership to NAGT and its GER Division and (2) a complimentary ticket to the NAGT luncheon at GSA, where the awardee will be recognized. Awardees will also be profiled in the GER Division's newsletter and included in the NAGT newsletter.
Potential awardees can be identified through independent nominations and/or self-nominations. The GER Division particularly encourages nominations of BIPOC scholars and individuals from other groups that have been historically marginalized in or excluded from the geosciences. Nomination packages will be accepted through the online nomination form.
Nomination packets should be compiled into a single PDF document and must include:
- A current CV with the publication record of the nominee
- A nominee-prepared statement that addresses how the nominee (1) conceptualizes their GER program at their current career stage, (2) disseminates their GER, (3) applies their GER and/or other STEM education research to their course and curriculum development and their teaching, (4) benefits from collaborations, and (5) engages in GER capacity-building efforts
- Two letters of support from two different individuals (not the nominee) that discuss the nominee's scholarly contributions to the field of GER, application of GER, research collaborations, and GER capacity-building efforts. At least one letter must be from a current member of the GER Division.
Final awards decisions will be made by the NAGT-GER Awards Committee with input from external reviewers. The NAGT-GER Awards Committee comprises the Past President, Vice President, and Secretary. External reviewers will be active NAGT-GER Division members and GER scholars at the post-doctoral career stage or more advanced career stage. Nominations for this award will be kept under consideration for 3 years.
Nomination period opens: April 1
Nominations due: June 1
Award committee decision: by August 1
2022 Transformation Award Winner: Karen McNeal.
Dr. Karen McNeal is the 2022 Awardee for the NAGT-GER Division's Transformation Award. Dr. McNeal is a Full Professor at Auburn University where she directs the Geocognition Laboratory. Among several honors, she was also previously recognized as the Molette Endowed Professor (2019-2022) in addition to being selected as Auburn University's 2022 SEC Faculty Achievement Award recipient. Dr. McNeal has been conducting Geoscience Education Research for 15 years and has held numerous roles at her university and in several professional societies/organizations. Her motivation and strong desire to improve geoscience education through research is documented through her drive to develop new lines of research, the success of her students and colleagues, and her ability to bring interdisciplinary teams together on a much larger scale.
As one colleague stated, "Dr. McNeal's research has transcended several areas of geoscience education and her scholarship is impeccable." Her research has focused in several areas including how to engage students in geoscience related materials, misconceptions and mental models people hold about complex earth systems (i.e. the hydrological and climate systems), and psychomotor responses (i.e. eye movements, skin conductance) that occur when people are interacting with geoscience-related materials. The several lines of research that Dr. McNeal and her colleagues conduct has been documented through an outstanding publication record and awards for external funding. Karen's awe-inspiring accomplishments include 46 GER publications, 8 book chapters, and over 150 GER published abstracts. She also earned $25.5 million total on 37 external grants and $11 million to home institutions. Dr. McNeal has a strong drive to advance geoscience education by building partnerships across a multitude of areas of expertise that are both internal and external to Auburn University.
At her home institution, she is the leader of the thriving DBER (Discipline-Based Education Research) interdisciplinary community within the College of Sciences and Mathematics and mentors several early career faculty with recent success in winning several extramural grants in geoscience education. She also makes significant contributions to Auburn's Climate, Human, and Earth System Science (CHESS) research focus group. Within the several roles that she has held at her institution, she has trained a number of MS and PhD students by serving as a committee chair or member. Her leadership in the DBER community at Auburn has played a central role in making Auburn a premier DBER institution.
Her non-stop efforts in finding innovative ways to address research problems in geoscience education with great societal impacts is documented with the $3M NSF National Research Traineeship grant. This is a very competitive program at the NSF and this award was the first NRT award at Auburn and in the state of Alabama. In this project, she and her colleagues are addressing resiliency to environment and climate-related hazards and disasters through data-informed decision making. The unique program has drawn many students who want to explore an interdisciplinary approach to framing climate resiliency within their field and learn applicable ways that their research and science communication can be most impactful to growing issues in geoscience education research. This program also shows how Karen's goals have immediate, important impacts for pedagogy, research, and policy-making as this program exposes trainees to different disciplines including agriculture, wildlife biology, engineering, and rural sociology. In addition, her research has not only changed how the new generation of geoscientists are trained, but it has also spawned new interest and attention from the general public regarding earth system change and global change that are highly relevant to human society.
Anyone who has interacted with Dr. McNeal is quick to comment on her generosity and dedication toward mentoring the next generation of scholars. She is always ready to discuss new ways to collaborate with graduate students, early career scholars, and other scholars who are within and outside of academia. For example, she seeks ways to collaborate with scholars who work at institutions that have designations including HBCU and MSI. Her collaborations with scholars at these institutions are one indicator of her dedication to justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in the geosciences. Another example is through her collaboration with the University of South Carolina on the Geoscholars grant which also supported socioeconomically disadvantaged students through their undergraduate careers. This work has also provided opportunities to recruit from partner universities such as Florida A & M University, while aiding trainees in their ability to build partnerships with stakeholders external to Auburn University.
Karen's work has undoubtedly made advances toward broadening participation in the geosciences, geoscience education, and Geoscience Education Research. There are not many who have taken such a comprehensive approach to transforming these fields in a meaningful way, but Dr. McNeal's partnerships with various stakeholders are a clear role model for emerging scholars in GER. Her commitment to teaching, research, and service are remarkable and she will continue to inspire many more scholars in her future. Dr. McNeal continues to have a transformative impact in GER and DBER as a whole in addition to being a huge contributor to the success of all those who are so fortunate to work with her. She has made a permanent footprint in the landscape of Geoscience Education Research and our community is lucky to have a leader in her.
2021 Transformation Award Winner: Renee Clary.