PhD student earns 1st place in poster competition at AAAS and a first-author publication in the same semester

Erika Nadile is a 2nd-year Biology and Society PhD student in Sara Brownell’s Biology Education Research Lab. Originally from the East coast, she attended the University of Massachusetts (Lowell) for both her B.S. and M.S. degrees in biology. She has been studying student participation in large-enrollment science courses and specifically, identifying ways in which participation can be inequitable.

Since arriving at ASU a little over 1.5 years ago, Erika has published two articles in biology education journals. The first article, of which she published as a co-author last spring, examined student perceptions of instructor use of humor in the classroom and found that although instructor humor can be beneficial, humor impacts students from different social identities in distinct ways. This study explored the perceptions of students based on race/ethnicity, political affiliation, LGBTQ+ status, religion, and native language. Notably, non-native English speakers were less likely to find jokes about most topics funny compared to native English speakers, which is probably because of the cultural context of many jokes. For every identity group, they were more likely to be offended by jokes about their own demographic groups.

This semester, Erika is a first-author on an article in the journal PLOS One, “Call on me! Undergraduates’ perceptions of voluntarily asking and answering questions in front of large-enrollment science classes.” In this study, she found that even though most students found it helpful to hear other students ask or answers questions, over half of students reported that they never themselves ask or answer questions. This inequity in participation in front of the whole class seems to stem from their fear of being judged by others. Erika presented a poster on this project at the annual American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) meeting and won first place in her student poster competition! Both of these projects were done in collaboration with ASU Biology and Society Assistant Professor Katelyn Cooper and ASU Biology and Society Associate Professor Sara Brownell.

Outside of her research, Erika is a HHMI Inclusive Excellence Fellow. Last fall she coordinated the Striving for racial justice in academic biology series, which hosted 16 different events ranging from student listening sessions to seminars to workshops. This spring, she is coordinating the RISE Center’s Striving towards inclusion in academic biology seminar series. Outside of research, she enjoys teaching animal physiology in an active learning way, being an active participant in diversity and equity activities in the School of Life Sciences, and hanging out with her cat, Phoenix.