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Dr. Karen McNeal

Associate Professor
3139 Jordan Hall
Curriculum Vitae
Research Web Site

M.S. - Oceanography, Texas A&M University, TX, 2003
Ph.D. - Geology, Texas A&M University, TX, 2007

My teaching/research interests are in geoscience education and geocognition where I explore questions concerning human understanding of earth systems. Specifically, my research focuses on student’s conceptual model development of complex environmental systems; assessing people’s knowledge and perceptions of complex earth phenomenon and the interaction of the affective and cognitive domains; and the development and testing of programs that assist scientists and engineers in communicating science and engaging in dialogue with the general public. Conceptual models encompass the theory utilized in my research, assessment of learning is focused on the acquisition of empirical data sets, and scientific communication considers the application of theory and empirical findings to instruction and public discourse.

My current work ties together the affective and cognitive domains of learning through both qualitative and quantitative methods in the context of climate change phenomena.  Specifically, I am interested in measuring participant psychomotor (e.g., eye-tracking and skin conductance) responses to climate information communicated through various pathways (e.g., static and dynamic text and visuals) in order to bring insights to best practices that attract attention and engagement, address expert-novice gaps, and provide appropriate scaffolding to support understanding among a range of audiences. I am interested in understanding the role of participant attitude and the cultural and ideological factors that might influence how people interpret and engage with such climate change information.   Finally, I aim to understand the type of discourse and emotional responses that occur when audiences are engaged in a climate conversation through activities such as dialogue, formal/informal activities, and social media outlets.

My work in geocognition is important as it is a critical time for society and scientists to communicate together effectively and for citizens to be better equipped to understand their complex world and make informed decisions about the planet in which they live.  However, we must understand what people know, how they respond to scientific information, and how to effectively communicate and teach in order to make inroads to achieving a climate/global change literate and engaged populus.

Peer-Reviewed Geoscience Education Publications:
Mitra, R., McNeal, K.S., and Bondell, H. 2014. Can knowledge deficit explain societal perception of climate change risk? Nature Climate Change, in review.

McNeal, K.S., Spry, J., Mitra, R., Tipton, J. 2014. Optimizing The Affective Domain in Teaching and Learning About Climate Change in an Introductory Geology Course. Journal of Geoscience Education: in revision.

McNeal, K.S., Walker, S.L., and Rutherford D. 2014. Assessment of 6-20 Grade Educator’s Climate Knowledge and Perceptions in the Southeast United States: Results from the Climate Stewardship Survey. Journal of Geoscience Education: accepted.

McNeal, K.S., Libarkin, J., Shapiro Ledley, T. Haddad, N., Bardar, E., Ellins, K. and Dutta, S. 2014. The role of research in online curriculum development: The case of the EarthLabs climate change curriculum. Journal of Geoscience Education: accepted.

McNeal, K.S., Hammerman, J.K.L., Christiansen, and J.A, Carroll, J. 2014. Climate Change Education and Faith-Based Communities: Not Just Preaching to the Choir! Journal of Geoscience Education: accepted.

Ellins, K., Gold, A., Haddad, N., Shapiro Ledley, T., Lynds, S., and McNeal, K. 2014. Supporting Teacher Professional Development to Facilitate Effective Teaching of Climate Science. Journal of Geoscience Education: in press.

Walker, S. L. and McNeal, K.S. 2013. Development and validation of an instrument for assessing climate change knowledge and perceptions: The climate stewardship survey (CSS). International Electronic Journal of Environmental Education 3(1): 57-73.

Sherman-Morris, K., Brown, M.E., Dyer, J.L., McNeal, K.S., and Rodgers, J.C.2013. Teachers’ geoscience career knowledge and implications for enhancing diversity in the geosciences, Journal of Geoscience Education 61, 326-333.

Sherman-Morris, K., Rodgers, J.C., McNeal, K.S., Brown, M.E., and Dyer, J.L. 2012. Professional Development Strategies to Enhance Diversity in the Geosciences. The Science Educator 21(2): 31-38.

Ledley, T.S., Haddad, N., Bardar, E., Ellins, K., McNeal K., and Libarkin J. 2012. EarthLabs-An Earth System Science Laboratory Module to Facilitate Teaching About Climate Change. The Earth Scientist 28: 19-24.

Miller, H.R., McNeal, K.S., and Herbert, B.E. 2010. Inquiry in the physical geology classroom: supporting students’ conceptual model development. Journal of Geography in Higher Education 34: 595-615.

Sherman-Morris, K., Schumacher, A., Drobot, S., and McNeal, K. 2010. Hurricane preparedness and response among pet care providers along the Gulf Coast: An investigation of the Ike ad Gustav storm events. International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters 28: 345-367.

McNeal K.S., Miller H.R., and Herbert B.E. 2008. The effect of using inquiry and multiple representations on introductory geology students’ conceptual model development of coastal eutrophication. Journal of Geoscience Education 56: 201-211.

Sell K.S., Herbert B.E., Stuessy C. and Schielack J. 2006. Supporting student conceptual model development of complex earth systems through the use of multiple representations and inquiry. Journal of Geoscience Education 54: 396-407.

Invited Book Chapters Geoscience Education:
McNeal, K.S., Steward, A. Brossman, C., Plonski, B., and Spuck, T. 2013. Teacher-Fellow and Fellow-Student Partnerships. In The Power of Partnerships: A Guide from the NSF Graduate STEM Fellows in K-12 Education (GK-12) Program, (Ed. Stoll, K., Ortega, S, Spuck, T.) American Association for the Advancement of Science, Washington, DC. ISBN: 978-0-87168-754-8.

Steward, A., McNeal, K.S., and Godoy, C. 2013. Integrating STEM content and Research in the Classroom. In The Power of Partnerships: A Guide from the NSF Graduate STEM Fellows in K-12 Education (GK-12) Program, (Ed. Stoll, K., Ortega, S, Spuck, T.) American Association for the Advancement of Science, Washington, DC. ISBN: 978-0-87168-754-8.

McNeal, K.S. and Anderson, R. 2012. Adaptation and Development of ITS Learning Ecology Participants: An Individual Perspective. In The New Science Education Leadership: An IT-Based Learning Ecology Model (Eds. J.F. Schielack and S.L. Knight) Teachers College Press, New York, NY. ISBN: 080-7-75343-2.

Peer-Reviewed Biogeochemistry Publications:
Geroux, J., McNeal, K.S., and Templeton, M.C. 2014. Diffusive Gradients in Thin Films (DGT) and Centrifugation: A comparison of porewater methods. Environmental and Engineering Geoscience, in review.

Guthrie, C.L. and McNeal, K.S. 2014. Salt marsh sediment biogeochemical response to the BP Deepwater Horizon blowout. Journal of Environmental Quality, in press.

Puckett, M.K., McNeal, K.S., Kirkland, B.L., Corley, M., and Ezell, J.E. 2011. Biogeochemical stratification and carbonate dissolution-precipitation in hypersaline microbial mats (Salt Pond, San Salvador, The Bahamas), Aquatic Geochemistry 17: 397-418.

Gardner, W.S., McCarthy, M.J., Carini, S.A., McNeal, K.S., Puckett, M.K., and Pennington, J. 2009. Collection of intact sediment cores with overlying water to study nitrogen- and oxygen-dynamics in regions with seasonal hypoxia. Continental Shelf Research 29: 2207-2213.

McNeal K.S. and Herbert B.E. 2009. Volatile organic metabolites as indicators of microbial activity and community composition shifts. Soil Science Society of America Journal 73: 579-588.

McCarthy M.J., McNeal K.S., Gardner W.S., and Morse J.W. 2008. Bottom-water hypoxia effects on sediment-water interface nitrogen transformations in a seasonally hypoxic, shallow bay (Corpus Christi Bay, Texas, USA). Estuaries and Coasts 31: 521-531.

Sell K.S. and Morse J.W. 2006. Dissolved Fe2+ and ∑H2S behavior in sediments seasonally overlain by hypoxic-to-anoxic waters as determined by CSV microelectrodes. Aquatic Geochemistry 12: 179-198.

Gardner W.S., McCarthy M.J., Sobolev D., Soonmo A., Sell K.S. and Brock D. 2005. Nitrogen fixation and dissimilatory nitrate reduction to ammonium (DNRA) support nitrogen dynamics in Texas estuaries. Limnology and Oceanography 51: 558-568.

Morse J.W., DiMarco S.F., Hebert A.B., and Sell K.S. 2003. A scaling approach to spatial variability in early diagenetic processes. Hydrobiologia 494: 25-29.

Morse J.W., DiMarco S.F., Sell K.S. and Herbert A.B. 2003. Determination of the optimum sampling intervals in sediment pore waters using the autocovariance function. Aquatic Geochemistry 9: 41-57.

Morse J.W., Gledhill D.K., Sell K.S., and Arvidson R.S. 2002. Pyritization of iron in sediments from the continental slope of the northern Gulf of Mexico. Aquatic Geochemistry 8: 3-13.

Byrne R.H., Xuewu L., and Kaltenbacher E.A., Sell K.S., 2002. Spectrophotometric measurement of total inorganic carbon in aqueous solutions using liquid core waveguide. Analytica Chimica 451: 221-229.

Hopkins A.E., Sell K.S., Soli A.L., and Byrne R.H. 2000. In-situ spectrophotometric pH measurements: the effect of pressure on thymol blue protonation and absorbance characteristics. Marine Chemistry 71: 103-109.

Invited Book Chapters Biogeochemistry:
McNeal, K.S., Anderson, E., Ezell, J.E., Guthrie, C., and Spry, J. 2013. Microelectrodes in marine environments: The exploration of sedimentary sulfide dynamics in shallow estuaries, salt marshes, and hypersaline microbial mats. In Microelectrodes: Techniques, Structures for Biosensing and Potential Applications (Eds. Lei, K.F.). Nova Publishing, Hauppauge, NY. ISBN 978-1-62948-721-2.

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