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Dr. DolanErin Dolan, Ph.D


Eldolan at

Erin Dolan is a Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and Georgia Athletic Association Professor of Innovative Science Education at the University of Georgia. As a graduate student in Neuroscience at University of California San Francisco, she volunteered extensively in K-12 schools, which prompted her to pursue a career in biology education. She teaches introductory biology, and her research group works to delineate the features of undergraduate and graduate research that influence students' career decisions, including the influence of research mentorship.

Alexandra (Lexie) Cooper, Ph.D

Postdoctoral Researcher

Alexandra.Cooper at

Lexie Cooper is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Georgia. Funded by a National Science Foundation STEM Education Individual Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, her work investigates pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) in Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences (CUREs). Prior to joining the SPREE Lab, she earned her Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of Arizona where her dissertation focused on investigating instructor reasoning behind science practice-based instruction. Lexie also has her M.S. in Biology where she conducted phylogenetic research in mycology through bench science work.

Marie Delcy                                                                              

PhD Student

Marie.Delcy at

Marie Delcy is a PhD student in the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology program at the University of Georgia. She earned her bachelor’s degree in biology with a concentration in Health Science at Fort Valley State University in May 2023. In the SPREE Lab, she is continuing the work of former postdoc, Mariel Pfeifer, on students’ development of a researcher identity in the context of natural science disciplines. In addition, she is also evaluating novel Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences offered through the Center for Chemical Currencies of a Microbial Planet to determine whether and how these CUREs influence participating students’ educational and professional development. 

Terri Dunbar                                                                              

Postdoctoral Researcher

Terri.Dunbar at

Terri Dunbar is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Georgia. She earned her Ph.D. in Engineering Psychology at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Her work supports departments and faculty as they rethink the ways they evaluate teaching by providing professional development, facilitating cross-departmental working groups, and researching new sources of evidence that may better shed light on teaching effectiveness. Terri is an accomplished instructor and workshop facilitator with several years of experience that includes core psychology and interdisciplinary elective courses for undergraduate students, teaching preparation courses for graduate students and postdocs, and professional development workshops for faculty. Her commitment to and leadership in instruction has been recognized nationally by the AACU. In the future, Terri plans to continue her work advocating for the role of teaching in the faculty reward system at R1 institutions.

Christina Leckfor

PhD Student

cmleckfor at

Christina Leckfor is a Social Psychology Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Psychology at the University of Georgia. Her research examines the factors that facilitate and interfere with social connection. Some of her most recent projects investigate what motivates people to talk to strangers or avoid them, how people develop intimacy in different contexts (e.g., face-to-face vs. texting and video chat, dyadic vs. group interactions, wearing face masks vs. no masks), and how the psychological experience of being ghosted differs from being directly rejected. Ultimately, Christina aims to understand how people can maximize the benefits of social relationships to lead happier and healthier lives. In her research with the SPREE Lab, Christina is working on the MARLE and Lab Talk projects to better understand how students’ relationships with their instructors and peers in course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs) and traditional undergraduate research experiences (UREs) are related to their emotions, satisfaction, and persistence in research. Christina is also dedicated to being an effective teacher and mentor, as demonstrated by her acceptance into UGA’s Future Faculty Fellows program and receiving the Richard L. Marsh Research Mentoring Award from the Department of Psychology.

Fama Sarr

MPH Student

Fama.Sarr at

Fama Sarr is an MPH student in the Department of Health Promotion and Behavior at the University of Georgia. She earned her B.S. in Biology from the University of Georgia in May 2023. Her research focus is on the Lab Talk project in the SPREE lab, where she investigates instructor talk that influences student retention. Her research interests are in student mental health affecting student retention in STEM majors and mentoring relationships that provide an emotional and academic support system for students.

Trevor Tuma

Postdoctoral Researcher

Trevor.Tuma at

Trevor Tuma recently completed his PhD as an National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow in Forestry and Natural Resources at the University of Georgia, with co-advising from Drs. Erin Dolan and CJ Tsai. His research in the SPREE Lab focuses on the mentoring experiences of graduate researchers in the life sciences. Mentorship is an essential component of graduate STEM graduate education, as high-quality mentorship contributes to the development and training of graduate students. However, mentoring relationships can also have dysfunctional elements. His work seeks to understand how these mentoring experiences contribute to the personal and professional outcomes of graduate students. His research interests broadly include mentoring and relational processes, the work-life interface, and career decision making in STEM fields.

C.J. Zajic

PhD Student

CJZajic at

C.J. Zajic is a PhD candidate in the Biochemistry & Molecular Biology department at the University of Georgia. His research is focused on what makes undergraduate research experiences (UREs) effective and how students gain access to UREs. He is currently working on the Lab Talk project, comparing what instructors talk to students about in course-based UREs (CUREs) vs. traditional life science laboratory courses to determine whether and how this effects students' experiences. He is also working on a project aimed at better understanding how undergraduate students leverage their social connections to gain access to UREs. This second project is being funded through his National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.



The Lab Talk Team

During Fall 2022, the Lab Talk Team worked to qualitatively code transcripts of audio recordings from lab class sessions. Here is one of our weekly team meetings where we share research progress, discuss analytic challenges, and make decisions about next steps for the research. Pictured from right to left: Elizabeth (Liza) Wolfson, Avery Brotzman, Zarae Allen, Brandon Yoon, Arnav Adulla, C.J. Zajic, Fama Sarr, Kenneth Walton, Ashley Han, Ethan Keairnes, and Erin Dolan. Not pictured: Joon Kum and Claire Schneider.




MARLE Decisions team

The MARLE Decisions Team

During Fall 2022, the team working on the Momentary Assessment of Research Learning Environments (MARLE) project completed qualitative coding of the decisions undergraduates made as they engaged in life science research. The team is transitioning to writing up our results for publication! Pictured from right to left: Mariel Pfeifer, Sabrina Haider, E.D. Tisano, Jana Alkhatib, Meghan Blitchington, CJ Jain, and Erin Dolan.