Sherry Herron

Associate Professor & Director of Science and Math Education

Teaching Interests

BSC 495/L Application of Biological Science in Teaching
BSC 504/L or SME 702 Graduate Field Courses
SME 700 Science Curriculum
SME 789 The Center for Science and Mathematics Education Seminar Series

As an educator in the biological sciences, I draw on years of secondary and postsecondary teaching experience; developing and conducting laboratory courses, field courses, student science camps, and teacher workshops; curriculum development and assessment; and classroom research and evaluation. Some of the early experiences that impacted my career included participating in NASA’s Teacher in Space program; developing a marine biology high school course; coaching Science Olympiads and Science Fairs; and taking students on field trips throughout the Southeast. At USM during the 1990’s, I facilitated the transformation of the Frazier Museum of Natural Science into the interactive Biological Sciences Learning Center and developed the campus Biology Trail. The Learning Center continues to provide a dynamic, technology-rich, artfully designed site for hands-on learning.

While a staff biologist at Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS) in Colorado, an Assistant Professor at the University of Texas at Dallas, and at USM, I authored various forms of curricula including: laboratory manuals for university courses, high school biology textbooks, supplemental units, informal science education units, and professional development programs. Oversight by review and advisory committees, pilot testing, field-testing, and analyses of data generated by qualitative and quantitative assessments and evaluations direct these processes. In every endeavor, I embrace the challenge of developing learning experiences that are inquiry-based and innovative while, at the same time, meeting the criteria of reliability and validity.

My courses are inquiry-based and technology rich: students engage in bioinformatics, genomics, and proteomics; and conduct laboratory investigations that include transformations, amplifications, and electrophoresis. I also teach field-based courses in such places as the Florida Keys, Galveston Bay, New Mexico, Big Bend National Park, and the Virgin Islands. Field-based biology courses enable teachers enrolled in the Science Education M.S. and Ph.D. programs to conduct original scientific research, broaden their understanding of the world, deepen their content knowledge, and add excitement and relevance to their classrooms.

I have taught undergraduate courses for biology majors and courses for non-science majors. These include all of the freshman biology courses at USM and an upper-level molecular and cell biology laboratory course at UT-Dallas. My science education graduate courses include Biotechnology, Bioethics, and Coastal Ecology. SME 700, Science Curriculum, explores how cognitive research has informed the development of educational materials and the uses of instructional technology. SME 789, seminar, seeks to broaden and integrate our students’ understanding by taping on expertise from all departments on campus. During my time at Southern Miss, I have been instrumental in assisting my department achieve national recognition through the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) for the BS in Biological Science initial licensure program. I have also been involved in the re-accreditation process for the Southern Miss Professional Education Unit¹s accreditation with the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).

I am the President of the Mississippi Science and Engineering Fair and director of the Region I Science and Engineering Fair (http://www.societyforscience.org/isef/).  I enjoy serving as faculty advisor of the USM chapter of Roots & Shoots and the USM Wesley Foundation.

Research Interests

I study the impact of various forms of professional development programs for teachers. I am the education liaison for USM on the Mississippi EPSCoR project “Innovations in Computational Science” which provides a summer workshop for high school science teachers (http://www.msepscor.org/). Formerly focused on bioinformatics, last summer’s workshop focused on forensics science. I am the internal evaluator of the USM Summer Mathematics Institute for middle school math teachers.  Dr. Haiyan Tian, Associate Professor of Mathematics, is the PI of this program funded by the No Child Left Behind Act from the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning (http://www.math.usm.edu/smsmi/index.htm). Through funding from the NSF GK-12 program, I work with Drs. Sarah Morgan, Sabine Heinhorst, Jeff Wiggins, and Rich Mohn on “Molecules to Muscles: Making Classroom Connections” (http://www.usmgk12.org/). The program puts graduate students in the sciences in high school classrooms. I work with Dr. Shelia Brown on ecology workshops for middle school teachers and field-based experiences for their students through funding from the EPA Gulf of Mexico Alliance and NOAA B-WET programs. We work with schools in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama implementing field studies using GLOBE protocols and facilitating service-learning activities (http://globe.gov/). Through finding from the NOAA GLOBE Program, I will lead a teacher workshop on climate change in 2012. Teachers will conduct field studies based on carbon cycling in the Long Leaf Preserve and at Lake Thoreau.

Doctoral Student Graduates

Kathryn Hampton, Ahmad Shatila, Douglas Magomo, Kari Everett, David Bramlett, Nina Ye, Betsy Sullivan, Consuella Davis, Candice Carter, Carl Drake, Sarah Wheeless, Aimee Thomas, Thomas Sumrall, Tamilselvi Gopal, Paula Gossard, Allison Downing, Felicia Thadison, Christy Philippoff, Jacob Dasinger, and Houbin Fang.