Sherry Herron

Associate Professor of Biological Sciences & Director of The Center for Science and Mathematics Education

Research Interests

As an educator in biological science, I enjoy the benefits of teaching and research in both fields. 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, 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 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. In addition to product-oriented research, I conduct a continuing line of research in students and teachers understanding of the nature of science.

I have taught undergraduate courses for biology majors and courses for non-science majors. These include all of the freshman biology courses at USM; “The Basis of Evolution”, and an upper-level molecular and cell biology laboratory course at UT-Dallas. My science education graduate courses include Biotechnology, Bioethics, and Issues in Human Biology. These 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. An ongoing line of our research involves the phylogeny of the land snail Cerion based on sequence analysis of a mitochondrial DNA fragment of the large ribosomal subunit (16S) gene.

My science education course SME 701 “Issues in Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education” explores the paradigm shift brought about by advances in cognitive and neurological research and how that informs education and the uses of instructional technology. The Center for Science and Mathematics Education Seminar Series SME 789 seeks to broaden and integrate our students’ understanding by tapping into expertise from all departments on campus.

I am the President for the Mississippi Science and Engineering Fair and Director for Region I.

Representative Publications

  • BSCS. (2003). Co-author, Bioinformatics and the human genome project. BSCS and the U.S. Department of Energy.
  • BSCS. (2002). Contributing author, BSCS biology: A human approach, 2nd edition. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company.
  • Herron, S. (In review). “Collaborating with graduate students in educational research: Considerations and challenges.” Yearbook of the National Science, NSTA Press.
  • Lee, A., Hairston, R., Thames, R., Lawrence, T. & Herron S. (2002). “Using a computer simulation to teach science process skills to college biology and elementary education majors.” Bioscene: Journal of College Biology Teaching 28(4), 35-46.