Biographies: University of Arizona

David Byrum, 2002-2004

ByrumThe academic year 2003-04 was my 32nd year of teaching. The majority of these years I taught Chemistry and Physics, but I've also taught General Math, Introduction to Physical Science (IPS), Earth Science, 2nd year Chemistry, and Intro. to BASIC Computer Programming. I taught for a city (Tucson) Catholic H.S., a rural (Globe) public H.S. and a city (Tucson) public H.S., all in Arizona. I was science department chair for two of these schools, coached cross country & track for one, and was a track coach for another. I've been a high school track & field official for 25 yrs. and a college official for 8 years. My undergraduate degree is from Arizona State University, a BAEd in Chemsitry and my graduate degree is from the University of Arizona, a MaED in Secondary Education. This allows me to cheer on both schools in any sport or academic endeavor!

For most of my teaching career (27 yrs.) I've also taught CHM 130 - Fundamentals of Chemistry for the allied health fields for the local community college and for the last 6 yrs. I taught a dual-enrollment General College Chemistry course in the morning at the high school. Students earned both high school and college credit, at no cost to themselves!

I've been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to teach for two of the three major state universities in Arizona! For four summers I was a Co-Associate Investigator and Co-Instructor for the National Science Foundation grant creating the "Southwest Regional Program for Excellence in Precollege Chemical Education" at Northern Arizona University, and for a total of 9 yrs., prior to being the PhysTEC TIR, I taught at the University of Arizona for the Chemistry Department, CHM 244a & CHM 244b "Honors Organic Chemistry Laboratory", and CHM 433/533 "Chemistry Demonstrations", and for the College of Education, TTE 338-H, "Teaching Secondary School Science". These have all been a great experiences for which I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to work in these departments.

During my teaching career, I've had the good fortune to have worked with many supportive and creative colleagues and many, many neat students. As a result, I received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching Science (1988), had the chemistry program that I created selected as a National Exemplar in Chemistry by the NSTA-CSSS-NSSA Search for Excellence in Science Education, as well as being selected by the Arizona School Board Association for their Golden Bell Award, and received a GTE Gift program award. The best award has been the five times that I've been nominated by former students for inclusion in the Who's Who in Education publication.

For the past seven years I have been the feature editor for the "View from my Classroom" feature in the Journal of Chemical Education and for four years was also for the feature editor of the column "Apparatus Review" in the JCE. This past year I was the President of the Arizona Science Teachers Association and I am now serving as the Past-president of ASTA.

I have a son who lives in the San Francisco area and is both a tennis pro and an accountant. He has been ranked nationally on the 30 and older tennis circuit and is fun to go and watch play. My wife has been a teacher for 29 yrs and is currently a math teacher at a high school here in Tucson. We enjoy traveling and have had some fantastic trips in the past four years, and we hope to have many more!

Teaching has been a great career for me, and with the opportunity that being PhysTEC Teacher in Residence, as well as being part of the College of Sciences Teacher Preparation Program, has afforded me to continue in the field by helping to prepare the next generation of science teachers has made the decision to be a teacher even better!

Phil Gilbert, 2004-2005

GilbertI graduated from Miami University in 1970 with a BS in Aeronautical Engineering and entered the US Air Force that year. (Vietnam era) I became a jet fighter pilot and enjoyed flying so much I stayed for twenty years!

I retired from the Air Force in 1990 and pursued a teaching certificate. Fortunately, I was hired immediately after my student teaching by Tucson High Magnet School as a Physics/Math teacher. I was accepted into the Physics Modeling program at Arizona State University and finally learned how to teach! I met Ingrid Novodvorsky there and together we conducted two Modeling workshops here at the University of Arizona. It was through Ingrid that I learned of PhysTEC and applied for the position of TIR.

Julia Olsen, 2005-2006

OlsenDuring my teaching career (15 years in middle school science) I have taught all areas of science (life science, physical science, earth and space, oceanography, etc) and developed engaging/challenging curricular materials and methods suited to the diverse needs of my at-risk/inner city student population. As I was teaching, I became involved in educating new science teachers through programs through both the University of Arizona' College of Education and College of Science teacher preparation programs, and Prescott College's Adult Degree Program in Elementary Education. I also worked with the University of Arizona Extended University's SEEK Program as on-site administrator for their Middle School programs for ten years, and expanding on my experiences and qualifications as a Master Teacher in two programs: ASSET (Arizona School Services for Educational Technology) / NTTI (National Teacher Training Institute), and Intel's "Teach to the Future" Master Teacher program for bringing technological training to other classroom teachers within the school district.

Besides my teaching degree in elementary education (BA, '89), I have a minor in Computer Science and an extensive practical background in that area. While pursuing a master's degree in Deaf Education, my graduate studies focused on the uses of technology with special needs and at-risk students. I am an avid learner and make it my practice to regularly expand my scientific knowledge by participating in science related activities such as underwater digital photography. I am nearly completed with my PhD in Science Education, and a minor in Special Education. My dissertation research is focused on development and testing of a computer based resource for inclusion science students in middle school classrooms, in the area of astronomy/space science. I am most excited to be a full-time member of the College of Science teacher preparation program as a TIR this year. It is in many ways a culmination of where I have been prior to this time in my career, but also a first step on my path towards future science education practice.

Thais Cunha, 2006-2007

CunhaI began teaching in 1985, having just arrived four years earlier in this country. That year, I secured a job at a multilingual elementary school in the Boston area. This was my first job in a new country, and I was speaking and teaching a language that I did not grow up with. My students were immigrants from Europe, Africa, and South America. It was then that I first confronted the issue of teaching science for students from very disparate schooling experiences as well as students who shared the same language but who had very different cultures and social economical status.

Soon after, I started participating in professional development classes and workshops aimed to enhance my science teaching in elementary school. After I moved to Tucson in 1990, I continued using science topics as teaching units in my classrooms. Between 1995 and 1997, I was invited to help training elementary and middle school teachers across the country in a curriculum designed by the Center for Insect Science at the University of Arizona. Upon my return to my school district, I started teaching middle school science. During my 20 years of teaching, I have taught all areas of science -- at the elementary and middle school level -- and I was asked to be the science facilitator in some of the schools I worked.

As my career has progressed, two areas of interest in education have become apparent - the science education of immigrant students and teacher preparation programs. In order to advance my knowledge, in 1992 I earned a master's degree in Bilingual and Multicultural Education at The University of Arizona. At this moment, I am close to finishing a PhD in Teaching and Teacher Education with a minor in Science Education at the same university. As a graduate student, I taught Methods of Science for Elementary School Teachers and supervised secondary science teachers at the University of Arizona's Teacher Preparation Program. This the past spring, I was invited to join the Teacher in Residence program at the College of Science at the University of Arizona were I will be again involved with the training of pre-service teachers. There, I hope to share my experience with future science teachers.