With endless thanks to Dr Henry Woo, we now leave Australia for Texas, USA, to meet Dr Amanda Glaze (@EvoPhD) of Texas A & M University System, who works in science education. Dr Glaze featured on this website last year, talking about Ada Lovelace and her contribution to science on Ada Lovelace Day.
We chatted to Amanda to find out what brought her to science, and why she stays.
I actually started out in the legal field studying constitutional law, not science. I have always been curious and asked a million questions, but that led me to question legal issues more than anything. During my path through college, I got involved in some programs that got my back to my scientific roots, as I grew up between two family farms, and got me involved in more scientific pursuits again. That love of all things outdoors, and interest in the natural and physical world sparked in me a renewed interest in the sciences. After a very meandering path through many hardships and with the help of an amazing family, both growing up and in my own husband and children, I was able to follow my love of biology and physics to pursue and complete my Ph.D. to teach science and study in a field for which I have a deep passion.
Why did you choose your current field/what keeps you there?
I don’t know that I chose my field so much as it chose me. There are so many aspects of the sciences that I truly love and enjoy, from the basics of living things to the complex workings of genomics. My studies in population genetics led to many late discussions and debates with colleagues regarding the perceptions and ideas held by the public regarding evolution and those conversations led me down the rabbit hole that opened up a very unorthodox research avenue for me to begin my research into these intersections of science and society, such as the controversy surrounding evolution, and more specifically to understand the experiences that underlie these conflicts in the places where they are most pronounced, namely the deep South (United States).
Tell us about your work?
My focus of study over the years has “evolved” (pardon the pun!) from scientific processes and change, to the realm between science and society – specifically, the processes of acceptance and rejection of evolution and how we might bridge the growing gaps between the scientific community and the general public in this, and other realms of scientific study. I have spent the past four years embedded in various communities in the Southeastern United States, studying the process of acceptance and rejection, the worldviews that connect with and diverge from evolutionary understandings, and cataloging the lived experiences surrounding the teaching and learning of evolution in a region where the science/religion conflict is quite volatile.
You can read the rest of this in my Ada Lovelace post on RealScientists and ErrantScience from October!
I do this for science, but not just for the concept of science, but because of the need for a truly scientifically literate and logical society, for the education of my own children and yours, for the hope of having leaders one day who follow the path of evidence and logic instead of mongering fear and ignoring what the data is telling them. Our society relies more and more each decade upon science for technology and solutions to problems, and yet it seems that each decade, more and more people grow suspicious of science or get lost in the jargon and lectures of science class, failing to see the big picture of what science is and how it relates to each of us.
Do you have any interesting external/extracurricular obligations?
Well, I do spend a lot of my free time out in communities trying to talk to creationists about evolution and studying their lived experiences with evolution. Does that count?
Any interesting hobbies you’d like to share?
In true Southern fashion I have a lot of old Southern hobbies that I learned as a girl from my mother and grandmother growing up. These include things like crochet, needlepoint, cooking/baking, canning, and knitting.
I am the worst golf player in the history of the game but still love to play when time and weather permit. I also enjoy running on the incredible trails that criss-cross the Southern United States.
And of course, scientists are people too who do things other than science, so here is Amanda’s ideal day off:
My ideal day off is spent outdoors with my family. For summer it is any day on the river being lazy and water skiing, in the winter it is curling up with a good book near the fire…at least when it does get cold enough for a fire down here. There is nothing like live music, good company, and Southern hospitality!
Please welcome Amanda to Real Scientists!