College of Natural and Health Sciences
Gender in STEM education, particularly transgender issues; feminism, queer theory, and other critical perspectives; equity; equity in mathematics curricula; philosophy and history of mathematics; sociological perspectives on mathematics and mathematics education.
Dr. Elizabeth (Betsy) Kersey conducted her dissertation on the experiences of postsecondary transgender students in STEM fields under the guidance of Dr. Rachael Kenney at Purdue University. This study revealed specific issues unique to transgender students, as well as illuminating ways that STEM fields are gendered for all students. She proposed a model of gender refraction, in which an open, accepting environment that supports all identities serves as a prism to reveal a full spectrum of gender identities that only appeared to be a binary under the restrictions of a conservative, heteronormative society.
Dr. Kersey has worked on the NSF-funded Preparing to Teach Algebra project, focusing particularly on the opportunities that preservice secondary mathematics teachers have to learn about equity. She is currently working on the HHMI Inclusive Excellence program to help faculty in science education to make their classrooms more equitable and increase the retention of women and people from marginalized groups in STEM.
Dr. Kersey plans to continue her research by expanding upon her dissertation findings into a book and further exploring the experiences of transgender people by looking at teachers and people of color. She will continue to utilize critical perspectives such as feminism, queer theory, and intersectionality, applying these to the foundations of mathematics as well as in mathematics education.