COE Doctoral Dean's Research Fellow and SREB Scholar, Educational Psychology
I received my BS & MS from the Georgia Institute of Technology in Biology and Bio-psychology. My current research considers the relation between three constructs that make up ecological literacy: knowledge, affinity, and behavior; and examines how they differ between urban and rural populations. I am also interested in the epistemic shifts that take place for students in science education. I work with the non-profit Captain Planet Foundation to assess inquiry interventions in school gardens, identifying the kinds of prior beliefs, knowledge, and epistemologies students bring to the science classroom.
COE Doctoral Dean's Research Fellow, Educational Psychology
In 2011, I received my BS from Duke University in Biology, with a second major in English. The year after I graduated I served with Literacy AmeriCorps in Palm Beach County. I worked in a preschool forESL students, where I created and implemented individualized lesson plans to increase my students’ English language skills. I also worked at an after-school program serving at-risk students, helping them to achieve at-grade reading levels. I worked for a year as a full-time Research Assistant in Dr. Renken's lab, where I learned a great deal about educational research. I am particularly interested in young child development, especially those children who are considered at-risk within the school system. My masters thesis project examined socio-emotional competency as a mediator of 4 year olds' inhibitory control on a social hypothesis revision task.
I received a Masters in Ed. Psych from Georgia State University in August 2013, and a Bachelors in Psychology from Kennesaw State University in 2011. My previous research revolved around false memories, specifically DRM and imagination inflation paradigms. Currently, I am interested in testing effects in school-aged children and possible differences in these effects across disciplines.
I received my Masters at Georgia State University and Bachelors degrees at Howard University, where I solidified my commitment to underrepresented groups. Throughout my academic career, I worked as a teacher in urban secondary educational environments. My research interests include the cognitive processes and motivational behaviors among children during the acquisition of science knowledge and the development of scientific skills.
COE Graduate Research Assistant, Educational Psychology
I am a first year student in concurrent program after receiving my B.S. in psychology from Georgia State University in August 2015. My undergraduate research primarily focused on inequity in cooperative nonhuman primates and metacognition. I am currently interested in how social dynamics affect cognition.
Melanie Peffer, PhD (former postdoc)
Assistant Professor, University of Northern Colorado, Greeley
Melanie earned her Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from the University of Pittsburgh in 2014. Her dissertation "Analysis of glucocorticoid action in neural stem cells" examined the impact of clinically relevant synthetic glucocorticoids on embryonic neural stem cells isolated from the cerebral cortex and hypothalamus. While in graduate school, she developed a way to simulate authentic science inquiry called Science Classroom Inquiry (SCI). Melanie's research in the Renken lab involved integrating her background in molecular biology with the principles of educational psychology to create a synergistic program of study. She developed and assessed educational experiences that are both enriching and scientifically authentic leading to student development of epistemological processes that are aligned with a scientist's understanding of knowledge and the nature of science. You can read more about her work at: drpeffer.jimdo.com
Judy Orton-Grissett, PhD (former PhD student)
Assistant Professor of Psychology
Department of Psychology and Sociology
Georgia Southwestern State University
I am interested in studying science learning in informal environments, namely the fields of biology and environmental education. I am particularly interested in learning opportunities for children at urban community gardens and within rural settings. As a Master's student in Educational Psychology, I served as a research assistant on a project that investigated children's understanding of the physics domain. During my time in Atlanta, I volunteered regularly at a local community garden, where I worked with young children for over three years.
Martina Nitkova, MS (former GRA)
MS, Counseling & Psychological Services
I am interested in working with children in a clinical setting and my goal is to facilitate their healthy development using a variety of therapeutic techniques. As a research assistant, I have experience working in a developmental research lab where we examined how young children learn through imitation. Additionally, I am interested in child development and different approaches to convey information to children depending on the various stages of cognitive development.