Hello BioTweeps! My name is Amanda Glaze and I am an Assistant Professor of Middle Grades and Secondary Science Education at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Georgia. I am taking over BioTweeps for Darwin Week 2017, one of my favorite weeks of the year and a topic that is on the top of my favorites to research and share.
I study the intersections of science and society, specifically public controversy surrounding topics such as evolution that are seen as “controversial” by the public. I also research and design programs to help other scientists and teachers improve public perceptions of evolution, and science in general, through formal and informal interactions. I have the benefit of walking in two worlds, as both a bench-trained biologist and a science teacher educator and have done research in both fields prior to the blending in which I presently engage. In addition to my present exploration of science, beliefs, and controversy, I have worked on a number of projects across related fields (B. thurengiensis protein, in situ callose biosynthesis in A. thaliana, β-Glucosidase and insulin potentiating factor IPF in Bitter Gourd, M. charantia, proteins) and am working in evolutionary ichthyology over the next year with my colleague Emily Kane as we use Guppy Kits to help students visualize evolutionary change!
If I could have a slogan for what I do it would be #ScienceForAll because, to me, being scientifically literate is one of the most empowering and important tool sets we can foster in the next generation and in others who are not so scientifically minded. We have all had conversations with people who don’t trust scientists or who have misconceptions about what it is that science does and how it gets done. Similarly, many of us are familiar with misinformation that is devastating to the social fabric, things like rejection of climate change, horror at the use of stem cells, and vitriol at the very mention of evolution. While these may not all seem equally meaningful, the key to understanding why the public rejects and, in some cases, fears science and scientists and taking steps to positively impact the communication and connections between the scientific community and the public transcends these topics in many ways.
A large part of what I do involves spending time talking to people about their experiences with science, whether in or out of school as well as their beliefs and how they intersect, diverge, and sometime conflict with scientific ways of knowing and explaining the world. In many ways I am a historian of the publics’ scientific stories. I am also actively engaged in quantitative research and frequently connect back with my roots in collaborations with fellow biologists whose own evolution research leads them to venture into the public and education arenas. My goal is to build relationships that foster understanding of the areas where science and beliefs diverge and develop means to bridge those gaps in ways that are true to science. What I am doing—seeking to meaningfully counter anti-science and anti-evolution mindsets, working with teachers in the United States (and heavily in the South) to more accurately and consistently teach evolution, and supporting outreach and communication with the public—is my personal effort to impact the future of science understanding, trust, funding, and support in the future for all of us!