Sara P. Chavarria
Sara Chavarria has been designing and conducting informal educational programming that creates learner-centered interactive experiences for non-traditional, underserved, and underrepresented students as well as for teachers that serve these populations. She is especially interested in best practices for attraction and retention of low income, first generation undergraduate students. More recently, Sara has been advising university partners on effective design of K-16 academic summer programs to engage and retain underrepresented audiences in their areas of study. She is also busy collaborating with researchers across campus and providing them with Broader Impacts grant writing support for their various large scale NSF grants.
Dr. Chavarria is currently the PI of an innovative Office of Naval Research project using geospatial applications with undergrads to positively affect the STEM fields’ persistence rates of ROTC students. The project is designed to provide students in ROTC, as well as student veterans, with an opportunity to use geospatial thinking in a relevant and hands-on environment. NAVIGATE is an immersive science, engineering, technology, and mathematics, or STEM, training program that will provide students with specialized, defense-related training in geospatial technology.
Other signature activities Dr. Chavarria has been or is involved in include:
The development of Tree-rings and forest fire ecology lesson plans and videos (funded through two NSF awards): These lessons and videos are the result of Teacher Workshops, visits to the Valles Caldera research site in New Mexico, and a Summer Camp for middle school girls, offered at different times the summers of 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 and led by participant teachers. Lessons designed covered topics on dendrochronology (Tree-rings), fire ecology, and/or climate.
An NSF EFRI (Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovations) award in which Dr. Chavarria is coordinating the broader impact efforts of the project (PI Pierre Deymier): Dr. Chavarria is working closely with undergraduate women in engineering to (1) design inclusive mentoring protocols for engineering contexts and (2) envision and design the projects signature Sound Hub space which will host hands-on experiential laboratory activities for students in which they engage with acoustics and sound. This maker space (expected launch date January 2018) is being co-designed with female students to ensure the space is inclusive and reflects diversity of engineering students who will use it.