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SABER Executive Committee

Kelsey Metzger, PRESIDENT

University of Minnesota, Rochester


I've been an active member of SABER for the past 11 years, participating in all but one national meeting and recently presenting at my first SABER West. I’ve had the pleasure of working with many of you in my previous roles in the organization on the Steering Committee (2017-2019), co-chairing the inaugural Election Committee (2019), on the Mentoring Committee (2020), chairing the Tenure and Promotion SIG (2018-2022), as the unofficial SABER swag czar, and currently as a member of the Development and Growth Committee (2021-2022).  Show more...

SABER feels like home to me: I have met friends, collaborators, role models, and friendly critics because of SABER, all of whom have been invaluable to me as a DBER scholar committed to seeking and using data to inform practice. My current academic position involves research focused on undergraduate learning; teaching; and service. As a faculty member at a small "startup" campus focused on education innovation that is part of a larger multi-campus university, I have been engaged in an extensive range of service activities across nearly every facet of the institution. Through serving on committees, task forces, and elected positions within university governance, I have cultivated the ability to work effectively alongside colleagues representing diverse stakeholder interests and campus units. These experiences have enabled me to learn a lot about how different groups function and what strategies generally work well to get things done. Over the past several years, I have taken on additional mentoring and faculty development roles, and will begin a new role as Director of Faculty Development at UMR as an extension of my tenured faculty position.


University of North Georiga


Dr. Miriam Segura is a biology professor and the Harry B. Forester Eminent Scholars Chair in Biological Sciences at the University of North Georgia (UNG). She has an A.B. in Molecular Biology from Princeton University and a Ph.D. in Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology from The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. During her seventeen-year teaching career, Dr. Segura has engaged undergraduates in research within a traditional setting, in courses that integrate her scholarly interests, and as part of national initiatives to infuse research into the curriculum.  Show more...

Most recently, her research interests focus on innovative and evidence-based teaching, particularly on methods that promote critical thinking in undergraduates. Dr. Segura's teaching was recognized in 2016 through UNG's most prestigious honor, the Distinguished Teaching Award, and in 2017 through the University System of Georgia Regents' Teaching Excellence Award (Felton Jenkins, Jr. Hall of Fame Faculty Award). In 2017, she was honored to be named one of the Inspiring Leaders in STEM by INSIGHT Into Diversity Magazine. She has been the Themed Issue senior editor for the Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education since 2017. Within SABER, Dr. Segura is invested in continuing to make the society an inclusive and welcoming environment to all. To this end, she helped to create the PEER (Persons Excluded because of their Ethnicity or Race) Network SABER special interest group in 2020.

Marcos E. Garcia-Ojeda, PAST PRESIDENT

University of California, Merced


A founding faculty member at UC Merced, I followed my professional interests and transitioned to a tenured teaching faculty position in 2014, leading me to biology education research. Thanks to Brian Sato and the UC STEM-LEC Network, I discovered SABER, and have been involved with it for 5 years. Since I attended my first meeting in 2017, I have presented 2 research talks (2018, 2020), joined the DEI Committee (Jan 2020), and the PEER Network (Aug 2020).  Show more...

SABER has provided me with a supportive community of scholars who foster and practice BER and fellow professors who use active, inclusive, student-centered, evidence based pedagogical best practices, and has helped me grow into leadership roles in BER on my own campus. SABER's mission to advance BER aligns with my professional activities. Our students at UCM are >50% Latino and >70% 1st gen and face structural barriers to success. I use student-centered, evidence-based practices that benefit these PEERs. I study how different learning spaces influence learning. Dr. Petra Kranzfelder and I collaborated to understand how STEM instructors' discourse moves affect student learning. As co-PI of our HHMI Inclusive Excellence Grant, I design and implement faculty development in Inclusive Pedagogy. I mentor faculty, graduate, and undergraduate students in BER and serve on multiple administrative committees. My teaching, scholarship, and service record makes me a strong candidate for the presidency of SABER. The use of evidence-based practices for inclusive, effective learning is positively transforming the experiences of PEERs and other biology students nationwide. SABER's pioneering work in creating a BER community, and sharing best practices for inclusive, anti-racist education contributes to this transformation. I am committed to sustaining and expanding SABER's impact. As president, I will grow our currently R1/majority-White institution-based membership to include PEER faculty and students at 2- and 4-year Minority Serving Institutions. Beyond the US, I will explore partnerships with BER scholars in Latin America and Asia, extending membership opportunities, hosting transnational exchanges, and building international BER consortia.

Melanie Melendrez-Vallard, SECRETARY

Anoka Ramsey Community College


Dr. Mel Melendrez-Vallard holds a Ph.D. from Montana State University in Ecology and Environmental Science - Microbiology focus. Following her Ph.D. she worked as a contract scientist for the U.S. Army for 7 years in Thailand and Maryland. In 2016 she moved to Minnesota and started teaching in the Minnesota State system. She currently teaches at Anoka Ramsey Community College (ARCC) and focuses on a competency based educational pedagogy that focuses on the power of practice in the classroom, utilizing open-source materials whenever possible to lower barriers to learning, and ensuring her students feel a sense of belonging in the field.  Show more...

She was most recently recognized as a Minnesota State Board of Trustees Outstanding Educator (2023). Her research used focuses on bacterial community function in contaminated sediment in the St. Louis River Estuary in Duluth, MN and more recently a Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) project which will be investigating science identity of community college students participating in a course-based undergraduate research experience (CURE) in majors level microbiology at ARCC.

Melinda Owens, TREASURER

University of California, San Diego


Melinda T. Owens has been a tenure-track Assistant Teaching Professor in the Department of Neurobiology at the University of California, San Diego since 2018. Prior to that, she earned a PhD in Neuroscience from the University of California, San Francisco and was a postdoc at San Francisco State University in biology education research. Her research focuses, broadly, on developing tools to help faculty understand their teaching and use evidence-based teaching techniques, including active learning and inclusive teaching.  Show more...

She also mentors undergraduates and masters' students in biology education research. Melinda has been attending SABER conferences since her postdoc. Recently, in the wake of George Floyd's murder, she co-led SABER's "Sense of Place" committee to determine where and how we can have the annual SABER meeting to best honor and involve local educational communities of color. As treasurer, she is committed to investigating and implementing ways to lower the cost of participating in SABER activities and broaden SABER's membership to be more inclusive.

Emily W. Grunspan, EX-OFICIO MEMBER

SABER Managing Director


Emily Wojcik Grunspan is Managing Director of SABER. Emily has dedicated her career to the nonprofit sector and has worked in education programs at a museum, zoo, and university as an educator, facilitator, and leader. She holds a master's degree in Nonprofit Leadership and Management from Arizona State University.

Mary Pat Wenderoth, HISTORIAN

University of Washington


Mary Pat Wenderoth is a Teaching Professor in the Biology Department at the University of Washington, Seattle (UW) where she teaches animal physiology courses and conducts biology education research on how students learn biology. Her main research interests focus on assessing implementation of cognitive science principles in the classroom, particularly those associated with conceptual change, use of first principles in constructing conceptual frameworks in physiology and student metacognition.  Show more...

She also does research on academic achievement gaps in STEM and effectiveness of professional development efforts to close those gaps. She received the UW Distinguished Teaching Award in 2001and has served as the co-director of the UW Teaching Academy. She was recognized by the National Association of Biology Teachers as the Biology Education Researcher of 2017. She received the Claude Bernard Distinguished Lectureship of the American Physiology Society Teaching of Physiology Section in 2019. She is co-founder of the UW Biology Education Research Group (UW BERG) and the national Society for the Advancement of Biology Education Research (SABER). She also served as President of SABER from 2010-2019. She served as a facilitator at the HHMI Summer Institute for Undergraduate Biology Education from 2007-2011. Dr. Wenderoth earned her B.S. in Biology from the Catholic University of America in Washington D.C., a M.S. in Women's Studies from George Washington University, a M.S. in Exercise Physiology from Purdue University and her Ph.D. in Physiology from Rush University in Chicago. The Historian role has been created to facilitate communication, both between the executive committee and other SABER committees and with our membership more broadly.

Society for the Advancement of Biology Education Research is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
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