With a passion for science education, Dr. Meredith Kier brings more than a decade of experience as an educator and researcher to the School of Education (SOE). After receiving a bachelor’s degree in biology as well as a master’s degree in science teaching (grades 6-12), Kier taught high school biology to English language learners when she “developed a passion for motivating students who were unsure if they were passionate about science and for making science relevant to students’ real-world experiences and home lives.” She later relocated to Raleigh, North Carolina in order to continue teaching science at the high school level and eventually to pursue her doctorate at North Carolina State University (NCSU).
During Kier’s time at NCSU, she had the opportunity to serve as a graduate assistant on a NSF ITEST grant. The grant involved the development of student interventions to build awareness of and interest in STEM careers among rural, African American middle school students in North Carolina. In addition to an opportunity that she had to collaborate with colleagues from East Carolina University to develop a science concentration for preservice teachers, these experiences eventually led Kier to pursue a tenure-track position at Howard University in Washington, D.C.
At Howard, Kier developed and taught courses in elementary science methods, English as a second language (ESL), and technology. She was also involved with the recruitment and retention of African American students in the STEM fields. After two years, the culmination of her experiences brought her to the SOE, where she started as an assistant professor of science education earlier this fall. Kier’s current areas of research interest include teacher professional development “to encourage the motivation of underrepresented minority students in the STEM disciplines,” as well as “building the motivation and identity of elementary pre-and in-service teachers to teach science through inquiry and problem-based learning.”
As she embarks upon her next journey at William and Mary (W&M), Kier will continue to work with other STEM educators at Howard through a three-year NSF ITEST award to conceptualize the incorporation of design thinking into math and science classrooms. Following in the footsteps of Dr. Juanita Jo Matkins, Kier has also joined the Noyce project – a grant aimed at recruiting and retaining elementary and secondary science teachers to teach in high-needs districts – as co-PI.
With regards to becoming a part of the W&M community, Kier is most looking forward to the relationships which she hopes to cultivate with her colleagues and the community. “The innovation, passion, and talent exhibited by the people in this institution inspire me. I feel so fortunate to be able to work with them to facilitate meaningful learning for teachers and students,” Kier wrote.
Beyond the classroom and her research efforts, Kier enjoys spending time with her two young daughters, husband (Nick, who also works in the SOE), and adopted black retriever. She also loves to read, shop, participate in group fitness classes, and go to the beach.