I am an discipline-based education researcher who studies biology education. My interests in this field are broad, but largely center on identifying scalable strategies in higher education that improve learning for all, and reducing attrition of historically underrepresented groups in STEM fields.

Research in the Ballen lab addresses the role of higher education in creating just and equitable communities – we do this through investigations that reveal causes and consequences of gaps in science literacy, and how educators can design their courses to minimize barriers to success. By developing an integrated experimental and theoretical research program we explore how classroom and social influences shape student learning, personal and professional development, and educational and career trajectories.

Research interests:

  • Active Learning Strategies in Biology

Research interests:

  • What geographic, cultural, or institutional barriers predict patterns of attrition among historically underserved students in STEM at the undergraduate level?
  • What types of scalable teaching strategies can instructors employ to reduce gaps in performance and participation in biology classrooms?
  • How does manipulating small-group gender ratios in active learning courses impact performance and peer evaluations? 
  • How do we define active learning in the context of undergraduate biology education?
  • How can we use measures of physiological reactivity to study engagement in an undergraduate STEM classroom setting?
  • What are the mechanisms that underlie learning and performance gaps observed in introductory biology courses?
Past Affiliations

Postdoctoral Associate, Department of Biology Teaching and Learning, College of Biological Sciences, University of Minnesota Twin Cities (past)

Postdoctoral Associate, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, College of Arts and Sciences, Cornell University (past)

Biological Science
PhD, University of Sydney, Australia, Evolutionary Biology, 2014
BS, University of Minnesota Twin Cities, Fisheries and Wildlife/Biological Sciences, 2008