MTSU BioTAP Scholar’s research examines biology gr...

MTSU BioTAP Scholar’s research examines biology grad students’ social networks

MTSU graduate student Joshua Reid finds himself in select company this academic year.

Reid, 26, of Murfreesboro, is one of 18 people from across the United States to be named a BioTAP Scholar for 2018-19, collecting and analyzing data with the group for one year.

Joshua Reid and Grant Gardner

MTSU graduate student Joshua Reid, left, is a 2018-19 Biology Teaching Assistant Project, or BioTAP, Scholar. His mentor is Dr. Grant Gardner, an assistant biology professor. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

The Biology Teaching Assistant Project, or BioTAP, is a research coordination network funded by the National Science Foundation to help universities use research to improve graduate student teaching quality.

logo for BioTAP (Biology Teaching Assistant Project), a research coordination network funded by the National Science FoundationReid is pursuing a doctorate in mathematics and science education at MTSU, specializing in biology education. The Cullman, Alabama, native earned his master’s degree from Alabama A&M in Huntsville and his bachelor’s and associate degrees from Athens State University and Wallace State Community College in Hanceville, Alabama, respectively.

The National Science Foundation first funded an incubator project in 2013 to build a network to address graduate teaching assistants’ training and professional development.

The project, soon dubbed BioTAP, received another five years of funding in 2015 to expand the national network, and the network established the BioTAP Scholars program, selecting applicants to participate in five cohorts between 2017 and 2020.

Reid and the other scholars in his group, “Cohort 2,” whose members range from the University of Alaska to the University of Florida and include faculty, administrators and four other grad students, began to enact research projects to identify professional development for biology graduate assistant teaching.

National Science Foundation logoReid said biology graduate students enter graduate school under two developing roles: researcher and teacher.

“I am looking at the social networks of biology graduate students to see how they may reinforce these roles, produce conflicts between these roles or promote positive relationships between these roles,” he said.

To date, Reid said, the BioTAP project is on track.

“The project is one smaller study of my dissertation, which includes three studies,” he said. “I am planning to defend my dissertation proposal in January and begin collecting this data in the spring.”

Reid’s group met online early in their session; groups working on similar projects get together every two to three months.

Dr. Bud Fischer

Dr. Bud Fischer

“We have made collaborations that will last forever,” Reid said.

Dean Bud Fischer of the College of Basic and Applied Sciences praised Reid for his selection as a BioTAP Scholar.

“We are thrilled that Josh is representing math and science education and MTSU as he continues to develop his expertise as a biology education scholar,” Fischer added.

Dr. Mark Byrnes, university provost

Dr. Mark Byrnes

Reid told Fischer he is “truly grateful to have a supportive college, faculty and mentors to support me in my endeavors.”

Provost Mark Byrnes said the honor is great for Reid and the university.

“Joshua’s been tremendous in his role as a graduate teaching assistant, and this certainly is outstanding recognition,” Byrnes said. “We look forward to seeing his progress and results next year.”

Reid, whose mentor is biology assistant professor Grant Gardner, arrived at MTSU in fall 2016.

“I have been provided a lot of opportunities to grow and develop as a scholar,” he added.

— Randy Weiler (