UNC Scholar Earns National Science Foundation Award

A University of Northern Colorado student recently was awarded a prestigious graduate research fellowship from the National Science Foundation.

Yeni Violeta García, a second-year UNC graduate student pursuing her doctorate in Biological Education with a minor in Statistics, will receive $40,000 awarded annually for each of the next three years. She's one of about 2,000 students in the country offered the fellowship and the only scholar studying Biology Education. She's the first UNC student to earn the award.

García, a former secondary teacher, will focus on blending her research on stream ecology with interdisciplinary approaches to teaching biology with an emphasis on inquiry-based learning in middle school. Her faculty adviser is Assistant Professor of Biology Richard Jurin.

García earned her bachelor's degree in Biological Sciences from California State-Fullerton and master's degree in Education from the University of California, Los Angeles. Born in El Salvador, García is a first-generation college student who has traveled to 29 countries - most recently as part of UNC Professor Lisa Rue's statistics class to South Africa in May to provide survey and assessment tools for a nonprofit agency. She'll travel to Costa Rica later this summer to study and trace water pathways using algae and phytoliths — silica residue left behind by the plants.

García just completed an NSF GK-12 fellowship, alongside Professor of Earth Science Bill Hoyt. As a GK-12 fellow, she worked at the Poudre Learning Center and Dos Rios Elementary School in Greeley and helped teachers develop inquiry-based lesson plans for exploring science.

Also at the Poudre Learning Center, she developed a summer research program for girls ages 10-13 that required them to ask a research question, form a hypothesis and complete the research. This year it's being offered to girls and boys, ages 10-13, beginning June 21. More information, including how to sign up, here.