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My interests and work are focused at the intersections of science, art, technology, and education. At heart, I’m a curriculum developer. I am driven by the quest to create experiences that engage learners: fostering a sense of wonder and interest that can sustain them through difficult material or questions. There are few things I like better than to work with other faculty to explore the possibilities of educational experiences.

Stephen working with faculty members on course reform
Picture by Brittany Greeson for the Chronicle

Currently, my position at MSU supports these passions in three distinct roles: Assistant Dean of STEM Education Teaching and Learning in the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education’s Office, Digital Curriculum Coordinator for the College of Natural Science, and the Associate Director for the Center for Integrative Studies in General Science. In these roles I support curriculum reform, develop faculty professional development, and help to develop institutional structures to support interdisciplinary STEM education.

For my bachelor’s degree from Denison University, I majored in Biology and minored in Art. This interest in the science/art intersection continued into graduate school as I freelanced as a biological illustrator while earning my masters and Ph.D. at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in Organismal and Evolutionary Biology and Entomology. Since coming to MSU, my focus has shifted from virulence of fungal pathogens of Lymantria dispar to visual communication of science in formal and informal settings and the use of technology in teaching.

I have worked on projects such as the use of comics to reduce subject anxiety in non-major science courses, the development of a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) to teach general science, and augmented reality and kiosk games to engage visitors in science museums. In one of my more recent projects, Drawing to Learn Biology, I have been developing curriculum that has students explore science practices of observation and visual model-based reasoning by keeping a nature journal. In my administrative roles, I have been leading a curriculum reform, developing a laptop loan program for more equitable education, and assisting in centralizing an undergraduate learning assistants program.

I have developed and/or taught ten courses at MSU (5 online and 2 hybrid, and 3 face-to-face), and I have worked as a freelance curriculum developer for various publishers. When not working in digital spaces, I play the banjo, knit random things, and draw comics or other visual narratives.

Comic book cover created by Stephen Thomas
One of the visual storytelling pieces I’m working on.

For more on my work, you can see my full CV.