Biology professor receives award for excellence in science education

SF State Professor of Biology Kimberly Tanner

SF State Professor of Biology Kimberly Tanner is committed to increasing diversity in the sciences.

SEPAL director Kimberly Tanner recognized by American Society for Cell Biology for excellence in science education

SF State Professor of Biology Kimberly Tanner received the American Society for Cell Biology’s (ASCB) 2017 Bruce Alberts Award for Excellence in Science Education. The award is given to individuals who have demonstrated innovative and sustained contributions to science education. ASCB is a network of about 9,000 cell biologists in more than 62 countries dedicated to advancing scientific discovery, advocating sound research policies, improving education, promoting professional development and increasing diversity in the scientific workforce.

Tanner directs the Science Education Partnership and Assessment Laboratory (SEPAL) at SF State, which studies how science is taught and learned in classrooms. The goal of her research is to positively change the experiences of students in science classrooms and to increase the diversity of students pursuing professional careers in the sciences. 

“We train scientists to be outstanding researchers and then we parachute them into college and university classrooms with no training in how to effectively communicate their expertise to others,” she said. Consequently, the majority of students who are initially enthusiastic about science leave the field, “with disproportionate losses for women, students of color and first-generation college students.” Through evidence-based teaching, Tanner strives to make science classrooms more equitable and inclusive of students from diverse backgrounds and perspectives. “If we as scientists want to solve the complex problems, we must make our learning environments inclusive so as to retain the incredible talent from diverse communities,” she said.

Tanner will officially accept the award at the Dec. 4 ASCB meeting in Philadelphia.