Meet the Rock Stars, Part 5: Dr. Jeff Thomas

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Name: Jeff D. Thomas

Title: Associate Professor

Year Started at CCSU: 2008

Courses Taught: Severe and Hazardous Weather, Introduction to Meteorology, Elementary Earth and Physical Science, Teaching Science in Secondary School, History and Nature of Science; Research in Science Education; Projects in Science Education

Current research projects:  Presently, I am working on two major projects.

The first project I am working on is NESSLIENext Generation Earth and Space Science Literacy Instruction & Expertise. I am the Principal Investigator and Project Director of this federally-funded Teacher Quality Partnership grant which involves Central Connecticut State University, the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology, and ten local school districts including Bristol, Cromwell, Colchester, East Hartford, Hartford, Meriden, New Britain, Portland, Southington, and Waterbury. The goal of this project is to improve teachers’ understanding of the new Earth and Space Science Next Generation Science Standards (e.g. climate change), the instructional shifts associated with these standards such as encouraging students to construct science models, and for teachers to embed reading and writing strategies as part of their instruction to improve students understanding of science

The second project I am working on is about better understanding secondary science teachers’ implementation of literacy practices with Dr. Sally Drew from the School of Education and Professional Studies. More specifically, this study examines the extent to which teachers are implementing the science literacy practices articulated in the (Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The significance of this project is to identify practices that teachers struggle with in order to provide suggestions for professional development opportunities.

Favorite book: How People Learn (educational) and Kate Remembered (for fun). Yes, these are both nonfiction

Favorite film: This is far too hard to select one movie as my favorite film, so here is my short list: The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, X-Men, and The Birdcage.

Favorite scientific term: Fogbow—Google it!

Something my students don’t know about me: A bear at Sequoia National Park chased me—I escaped.

CCSU Geology is Everywhere at GSA!

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[Drs. Yinka Oyewumi and Jeff Thomas at their poster on preparing in-service teachers to successfully integrate the Next Generation Science Standards]

It’s three days into the National Meeting of the Geological Society of America in Baltimore, MD, and the faculty and students of the CCSU Geological Sciences Department have already accomplished more than enough to make any Blue Devil proud. Five of the seven full-time department faculty have presented their original research (with an additional faculty member fielding their first presentation of the conference today, and two faculty presenting additional work today and tomorrow). But it’s the students who have taken the Baltimore Convention Center by storm. Already five students have presented their work and gotten copious compliments from the international experts assembled here, and there are more presentations to go! “You’re just an undergraduate?” one geologist exclaims, then quickly offers a business card to one student as he eagerly expresses an interest in working with her in graduate school in the future. Other students also talk graduate school, one on one, with faculty from prestigious programs, or with representatives from industry. The common thread is that, while CCSU may not be a household name in the big wide world, once he or she meets one of our students at their poster presentation, or speaks with them about graduate school, professionals sit up and take notice. They are impressed with our intelligent, articulate students, the high quality and sophistication of their research, and recognize that we are providing our students with a superior academic preparation  and mentoring experience that will serve them well in their future endeavors, whether that be in graduate school or industry. So here’s to the students! Everyday you remind me why I am so singularly fortunate to be a faculty member in this department.

— Kristine Larsen

Geologists Invade Baltimore!

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[Dr. Jen Piatek masquerading as the Apollo Program at the opening reception]

After a long train ride, faculty and students from CCSU arrived in Baltimore, joining the thousands of “geologi” and practitioners of related fields converging on the unsuspecting city for the National Meeting of the Geological Society of America. Several of our group were already at the convention center, having arrived the day before in order to take advantage of short courses, seminars, and other educational experiences. After picking up our registration materials, the only official order of business was the opening reception. Attendees were encouraged to dress in Halloween costumes, and most of the CCSU crowd obliged. Students dressed as Olivine, Bedrock, Superman, Pikachu and Ash, Randy “Macho Man” Savage, and we even had two eerily realistic Wednesday Adams! Faculty were not about to be left out of the fun, with Dr. Piatek dressing as the Apollo Program and Dr. Larsen as water on Mars.

The high point of the reception was not the costumes, the refreshments, or even Young Frankenstein playing on the huge video screens, but rather being reunited with department alumni Shawn Mines, Amanda Delisle, and Keenan Golder. After the reception the five faculty in attendance went off to dinner (after a very long wait), and momentarily debated having a department meeting (since we had a quorum) but decided that this evening was about camaraderie and basking in the success of our students and alumni. If you are reading this blog, know that we are giddily proud of each and every one of you!

With Saturday drawing to a close, it was time to prepare for the conference in earnest – talks begin at 8 AM sharp on Sunday and posters need to be hung up as well.

 

— Kristine Larsen