Meet our Graduate Students

Ph.D. Candidates

Jayme Simlin Del Mario (2019)

Jayme earned her bachelor’s degree in Biology from Oklahoma State University (2010) and began working at a Bariatric surgery clinic in 2012. After exploring her interest in medical education, she began her Medical School Post Baccalaureate program in New York. Jayme thoroughly enjoyed her time in the medical field but always felt like she belonged behind the podium rather than in a clinic.  Thus, after earning her master’s degree in Biological interdisciplinary Studies from Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine, she took a leap of faith into K-12 education, teaching Medical Microbiology, Anatomy and Physiology and Pathophysiology at Duncanville High School for 5 years. Since then, Jayme has served in a variety of educational roles and settings within higher education and K-12 institutions. She currently serves as a Campus Instructional Coach at City Lab High School in Dallas ISD.  Jayme enjoys collaborating with secondary educators to support engaging teaching and learning strategies. She is honored and excited to be a TCU PhD student. Jayme’s interest includes analyzing the ironic disparities among higher education entrance examinations and success in academia.

Savannah Graham (2019)

Savannah graduated from the University of Arkansas in May 2019 with a Master of Science in Biological Sciences (research: Local adaptation in Enallagma exsulans populations), after previously graduating from Lyon College in Batesville, Arkansas with a Bachelor of Arts in Biology. She had intentions of pursuing a career in the field of biology, but this changed once she taught introductory biology labs during my time at Arkansas and participated in science outreach programs. She created her own lab exams and became interested in the methods of teaching and ways of testing students’ knowledge. She also worked with the lab coordinator and other teacher assistants to improve the course and student learning each semester. This led her into the field of science education that she have become very passionate about the last few years. She is interested in the methods of teaching science and student learning in science, especially in the field of ecology.

Lara Kuhlman (2019)

Lara attended Texas A&M University and received a Bachelor of Science in Animal Science (2004) as well as a Master of Science in Physiology of Reproduction (2008). While attending A&M Lara worked in the field of Animal Health with various researchers on campus. Upon working toward a master’s degree, she became a teaching assistant for the undergraduate class Reproduction in Farm Animals for 3 years. This sparked a love of teaching and Lara pursued an Alternative Teaching Certificate in Life Sciences (6-12th grades). After graduating with a master’s degree, Lara began teaching Biology and Advanced Placement (AP) Biology at Paschal High School for five years. She has also taught three years of Middle School Science including Earth Science, Life Science, and Physical Science. Beginning in 2013 to present, Lara has been an adjunct professor at Tarrant County College, teaching Anatomy and Physiology II. She is also a Certified ISR Self-Rescue Swim Instructor. Lara was born and raised in Fort Worth and is excited to begin the Science Education Doctoral program at TCU.

Megan Clawson (2018)

Megan earned her bachelor’s degree in Biology here at TCU (2002), and began teaching in 2003. She loved her time in the science classroom and decided to pursue graduate work in science education. She received her Master’s degree in Math, Science, and Technology Education from The Ohio State University (2009). Since then, Megan has served in a variety of educational roles and settings including both K-12 education and higher education. She currently is a faculty developer in TCU’s Koehler Center for Instruction, Innovation, and Engagement, and enjoys working collaboratively with the TCU community to support teaching and learning. Prior to joining the Koehler Center, Megan worked as a Science Curriculum Specialist in Fort Worth ISD, and as an Assistant Course Coordinator in the Center for Life Sciences Education at The Ohio State University. She is thrilled to be a TCU student again. Her interests include discipline-based educational research, and the development of pedagogical content knowledge.

Tonie Domino (2018)

Tonie earned her bachelor’s of science in biology (2008) at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland, and went on to graduate with her DVM from the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University (2013). After a short time as an associate in an equine/farm animal practice, she returned to Cornell in 2015 for a residency in ambulatory and production medicine (the specialty of preventative care and welfare for farm animals). She loved her teaching responsibilities as a resident and decided that she wanted further training in the field of education. Her research interests include how learning occurs at different phases of the veterinary curriculum (early basic sciences vs. later clinical reasoning), how veterinary students might use writing to study/learn, and how veterinarians communicate with their clients.

Alex Tolar (2018)

Alex graduated from Southern Methodist University in December 2017 with a Master of Arts in Molecular and Cell Biology (research: Complex I formation in Escherichia coli), after previously receiving her Bachelor of Science in Biology from Baylor University in May 2016. Her research interests include understanding the nature of science and improving scientific relations with the greater community. Her viewpoint of science and her research goals are best expressed through the words of Dr. Robert Sapolsky, who said, “I love science, and it pains me to think that so many are terrified of the subject or feel that choosing science means you cannot also choose compassion, or the arts, or be awed by nature. Science is not meant to cure us of mystery but to reinvent and reinvigorate it.”

Callie Price (2017)

Callie Price earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees in Biology from Tarleton State University and is now a full-time instructor and lab coordinator for their Biology department. She came to TCU to further develop her passion for education into defined research skills and become a more effective researcher and educator for students.

Cassandra Cartmill (2017)

Cassandra Cartmill received her Master in Public Health at the University of North Texas Health Science Center (UNTHSC) in Fort Worth.  Prior to attending UNTHSC, she taught Advanced Placement (AP) biology, Pre-AP biology, and chemistry in Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD for ten years. For the past six years, she has been a consultant for the Colorado Education Initiative, where she facilitated Pre-AP biology teachers to increase the inquiry and rigor in their classrooms.  Cassandra has also assisted Dallas ISD biology teachers by introducing them to innovative and interactive lessons for all levels of students through the UT Southwestern Science Teacher Access to Resources (STARS) program. She has also presented at the annual Conference for the Advancement of Science Teaching (CAST).  Her research interests include professional development and pedagogical practices in the university.

Shelly Wu (2016)

As a biologist, Shelly has always been interested in the macro, real-world applications of microscopic algae. For her undergrad research at Loyola University New Orleans, she studied algae growth on human hair as a forensic application. For her master’s research at the University of Oklahoma, she assessed diatoms on freshwater turtles. During her time at OU, she originally had no intentions to change her career path from biology to education. However, through her involvement in science outreach programs, she became interested in bringing ecology activities to K-12 students. She also enjoyed teaching introductory level biology labs. Whether she was teaching in a lab classroom or outdoors, one common theme she found herself striving for was inquiry-based learning. She believes this mode of learning is a powerful tool that inspires students to realize their full potential as growing scientists. One of her goals at TCU is to research how students understand ecology concepts, with the hope that her findings can be used to develop ecology activities and/or curriculum. Ultimately, her lifelong goal as an educator is to foster appreciation and stewardship for the environment.

Stacy Vasquez (2016)

While completing her Master of Science in Biology at Texas A&M University-Kingsville, Stacy was fortunate enough to hold a research position in a microbiology based laboratory. My research involved the biochemical & molecular identification of methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus. In addition to carrying out research, he was also responsible for teaching introductory biology and microbiology labs to students, which quickly became his favorite part of the program. His interest in microbiology, education, and population health led him to pursue a foundation in public health at the UNT-Health Science Center in Fort Worth. While completing the core competency courses, he began working as an adjunct instructor of biology at Mountain View College and Tarrant County College. In the future he hopes to use his experiences and knowledge to get involved in education policy, develop meaningful reforms and publish research. His passion for education, strong interest in the pedagogical aspects of science and dedication to improving science instruction really attracted him to the Andrews Institute of Mathematics & Science Education. Stacy considers himself extremely lucky to be working under such an experienced faculty and look forward to getting involved.

Monica Amyett (2016)     

Monica’s love for science began in her early childhood. Her grandmother raised quarter horses and she spent my summers on her North Texas farm, learning the processes of raising and training these beautiful animals. In working with horses, she gained leadership skills and an applied understanding of biomechanics and athletic performance. As she grew, she gained an appreciation for logic and reasoning. The sciences appealed to her idealized process for the acquisition of knowledge. She decided to study biology because, to her, all biological processes and the results thereof were a remarkable feat of nature. Simply put, biology inspired her. Teaching was an easy fit for her. As she worked in education, she found that she easily transitioned from one content area to the next. She successfully taught biology, anatomy and physiology, chemistry, physics and engineering. She also teaches a research and design class where she has successfully mentored many students in science fair competition. After years of teaching science, she finally came to terms with her personal ambition to undertake a research project of her own. Her research project will be a culmination of my teaching in physics, engineering and biology. Monica hopes to spend her doctoral research efforts in developing a problem-based learning model whereby students can gain an appreciation and understanding of biomechanics and the physics and engineering principles that enable animal and human motion.          

Daniella Biffi (2015)

Daniellla is a marine conservation biologist from Peru. In 2014, she completed a M.Sc. at TCU, where she used non-invasive genotyping to estimate local population sizes of marine otters in Peru. Developing research and conducting field work in Peru gave her the opportunity to interact with fishing communities, non-profits, government agencies and low-income public schools. These experiences have broadened her research and professional interests to four areas: ecology and conservation of marine otters, marine education, environmental and conservation communication, and sustainable seafood initiatives. In the future she wants to continue working in Peru, developing effective long-term environmental programs for students and the community that promote science thinking on a daily basis.

Heather Thompson (2015)

John Cordell (2014)

John graduated from Texas A&M University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology. He then moved to New York and earned his Master’s Degree in Physics from Hunter College of the City University of New York. He taught physics, earth science and mathematics at Talent Unlimited, a high school in the New York City public school system, for four years. He has taught physics, honors physics, AP Physics C – Mechanics and E&M, psychology and AP Psychology for the past 12 years at Fort Worth Country Day School. He really loves trying to take difficult concepts and make them easier for students to understand. He loves surprising students in class with a demonstration or a thought that induces them to reconsider the world. And he loves it when the students surprise me with a demonstration or thought that induces me to reconsider the world, which happens quite often. He is currently enrolled in the Science Education Ph.D. program. With the degree, he would like to be part of the national conversation about what we teach in science and how we teach it.


Master’s Candidates

Ronnie Cunningham (2019)

Alyssa Livingston (2019)

As an aspiring educator coming from five generations of teachers, Alyssa feels as if teaching is in her blood. Ever since she was a small child, she knew she longed to be an elementary educator. While in K-12 schooling, she thoroughly enjoyed all of her mathematics teachers and their classes. After obtaining her bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education from TCU, she decided to continue my studies in the Accelerated Master’s Mathematics program at TCU. Upon graduating, she plans on teaching elementary mathematics in a rural school in Texas.

Molly Marek (2019)

Molly obtained her bachelor’s degree in applied learning and development from The University of Texas at Austin (2017) and began her teaching career the same year. She is currently in her third year of teaching at STEAM Middle School in Burleson ISD where she teaches 6th grade Science as well as high school level Biology. She previously specialized in literacy and will integrate her background with a new perspective in the Curriculum & Instruction Science Education Master’s Program. She began engaging in educational research as an undergraduate and worked as a research assistant with the departments of Music Education and Educational Psychology. As a student teacher, she collaborated with doctoral students to conduct action research in her classroom and went on to present the project with her colleagues at NCTE last year. She will be sharing her current action research at CAST this year. She views science as a natural venue to build environmental stewardship and seeks to empower her students as active global citizens. By fostering multiple literacies and sharing stories, she hopes to diversify representation and expand the scope of science for her students. Her research interests include content integration, disciplinary literacy, and scientific inquiry.  She is thrilled to work with the esteemed faculty and stimulating peers at the Andrew’s Institute of Mathematics and Science Education.

Payton Parrish (2019)

Payton graduated from Tarleton State University in December 2016 with a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies. She began teaching third grade in Joshua, Texas in August 2017 and started her third year with the best team in the greatest district. She loves watching students learn and have fun while at school. Texas Christian University has always held a huge place in her heart and she has a family full of generations of Horned Frogs. Her grandparents, Bill and Sue Parrish, have left such a remarkable impact on the school and she would love to be a part of that. As a young teacher, she is still learning ways to improve her skills so that each of her students can learn and work to the best of their abilities. She is pursuing a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Mathematics because she wants to expand her knowledge in order to help her students. She has a love for math that she hopes to pass on to them. After obtaining her degree, she would like to eventually become part of the Curriculum and Instruction team for Joshua ISD and help teachers help their students.

Ali Smith (2019)

Ali received her Bachelor of Science in Education from TCU in May 2019. Her undergraduate degree is in Early Childhood Education with an emphasis in English as a Second Language. Ali is currently in the accelerated Master’s program for Curriculum & Instruction: Math Education. She is dedicated to the mathematics field because of her strong and passionate teachers and professors from elementary school to college. Upon graduation in May 2020, Ali hopes to stay in the DFW area to be an elementary teacher. One of her goals when she enters the classroom is to cultivate a learning environment where her students appreciate and love math.

Chelsey Solomon (2019)

Matt Troyanowski (2018)

Matthew graduated from Western Michigan University in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. He has since taught second and fifth grade in Naples, Florida. From then, he is currently and for the past six years been teaching fifth grade math at Vickery Elementary in Flower Mound, Texas, which is part of Lewisville ISD. With each passing year, he has become even more passionate about teaching elementary mathematics to his students and colleagues. Eager to continue his education in teaching mathematics, he was accepted in to the Curriculum and Instruction: Mathematics Education program and is excited to continue learning and growing his capacity as a mathematics teacher.

Brook Salazar (2016)

Brook’s passion for science began in her first high school Biology class and there was no looking back. She believes that having a “growth mindset” is a fundamental component for academic and social success in her classroom. She also feels that building a nurturing student-teacher relationship is essential for student involvement. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree at Texas Wesleyan University in Life Science. She then went on to acquire her alternative teaching certificate through Tarleton University (TMATE). Her goals, in the foreseeable future, will hopefully be in partaking in some form or fashion of administration position within a high school setting or actually writing a more engaging Biology curriculum for a school district. Essentially, she wants to make teaching fun again for every student and teacher!

Wendy Lamour (2015)

Perhaps it was inevitable that Wendy would go into the family business. Her dad was an Education Professor in South Texas, and her worked in an administrative position in the Education Department at UT Austin. Dinner conversation often centered on education policy, pedagogy and — a personal favorite of Wendy’s — testing and measurement. She spent almost twenty years as an engineer, but eventually gave in to the pull of teaching.  As a student, math always came naturally to her, so she tended to ignore her teachers and rely on her ability to figure things out on my own.  That strategy served her well to a point, but then she realized that by trying to reason through everything from scratch, she was ignoring an enormous body of knowledge that she could build on, rather than trying to recreate everything on her own. She applied to TCU when she reached a similar point in her teaching career.

Her modest aspiration is to save the world through math. Like a lot of teachers, she has an interest in inspiring the curiosity and inventiveness of students with the potential to solve some of the world’s greatest technical problems. But she is also very interested in identifying and cultivating the math skills that students with other gifts will need in order to be productive citizens and rational thinkers capable of organizing information in order to make good decisions. She wants to study the successes that others have had in these areas and then see what she can contribute to the field.