Teresa MacDonald

Associate Director, Public Programs
785.864.2371
Dyche Hall

Teresa MacDonald has more than twenty years of science education experience in museums, science centers, universities and schools from kindergarten to college level on three continents. She holds a bachelor of arts, honors, degree in physical anthropology, a master of science in vertebrate paleontology, and a PhD in science education. Her research interests include evolution and physics education. Teresa is also involved in several grant-funded projects including The Tree Room: Teaching and learning about evolutionary relationships, Understanding the Tree of Life, and Quarked! Adventures in the Subatomic Universe, a physics education project.

Publications: 

PEER-REVIEWED PUBLICATIONS

Novick, L.R., Pickering, J., MacDonald, T., Diamond, J. et al. (2014). Depicting the tree of life in museums: guiding principles from psychological research. Evolution: Education and Outreach, 7(1): 1-13.  DOI:10.1186/s12052-014-0025-0.

MacDonald, T. and E. O. Wiley. (2012). Communicating phylogeny: Evolutionary tree diagrams in museums. Evolution: Education and Outreach, 5:14-28. DOI 10.1007/s12052-012-0387-0.

MacDonald, T., and Bean, A. (2011). Adventures in the Subatomic Universe: An exploratory study of a scientist-museum physics education project. Public Understanding of Science, 20(6): 846-862.

MacDonald, T., and Bean, A. (2009). Get Quarked! NSTA Science Scope, 33(4): 43-47.

MacDonald, T., and Bean, A. (2009). Quarked! Adventures in physics education. The Physics Teacher, 47:38-41.

SELECTED CONFERENCE PRESENTATIONS

Thanukos, A., MacDonald, T., Heiser, D., and Ross, R. (2016). Visualizing Evolution: Reinforcing NGSS’s Unity and Diversity Standards at zoos and aquariums. Presentation at AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums) annual conference, San Diego, CA, September.

Thanukos, A., MacDonald, T., Heiser, D., and Ross, R. (2016). The Tree Room: New tools for integrating the Tree of Life into exhibits and educational programs. Poster at AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums) annual conference, San Diego, CA, September.

MacDonald, T. (2014). Evolutionary Tree Design: An exploratory study of the influence of linear versus branched format on visitors' interpretation and understanding. Poster at NARST (National Association for Research in Science Teaching) conference, Pittsburgh, PA, March (http://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.969649).

 MacDonald, T. (2013). Falling Anvils, Nano-bits, and Photons: Nanotechnology for Renewable Energy K-12 & Public Outreach. Climate Change and Energy: Basic Science, Impacts and Mitigation, Kansas NSF EPSCoR 2013 annual meeting, Oread Hotel, October.

MacDonald, T. (2012). Falling Anvils, Nano-bits and Photons: Nanotechnology for Renewable Energy Outreach. Poster at the Kansas NSF EPSCoR Statewide Conference, Wichita, KS, June.

MacDonald, T. (2012). Falling Anvils, Nano-bits and Photons: Nanotechnology for Renewable Energy K-12 Outreach. Presentation at Kansas NSF EPSCoR Statewide Conference, Wichita, KS, January.

Bean, A, and MacDonald, T. (2011). The Multimedia Project Quarked! Proceedings of the DPF-2011 (Division of Particles and Fields of the American Physical Society) Conference, Providence, RI, August.

MacDonald, T. (2011).  Nanotechnology for Renewable Energy: K-12 Outreach. Poster presented at NSF EPSCoR Program Review Meeting, Manhattan, KS, June.

MacDonald, T. (2010). Communicating Phylogeny: Evolutionary tree diagrams in museums. Paper presented at NARST (National Association for Research in Science Teaching) annual conference, Philadelphia, PA, March.

Donovan, S., Matuk, C.F., MacDonald, T., Diamond, J., et al. (2009). Understanding the tree of life. Poster presented at the National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT) Professional Development Conference (http://www.nabt2009.org). Denver, CO, November.

MacDonald, T., and Kirchner, D. (2008). Quarked! Adventures in the Subatomic Universe. Presentation at SMARTT (Science and Mathematics: Assessment, Research and Technology Together) conference, November.

     INVITED CONTRIBUTIONS

Lampe, B., and MacDonald, T. (2013). Rubber Chicken Science. Keynote Speaker for Women in Science Day, Association for Women in Science, Washburn University, October.

MacDonald, T. (2013). Get Quarked! Adventures in Physics Education. Science Café, Topeka, May.

MacDonald, T. (2013). Time for Evolution: Natural History Style. Keynote Speaker for Darwine event, Great Plains Chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, February.

Lampe, B., and MacDonald, T. (2012). Matter, Mammals and Molecules: Adventures in Science Education. Keynote Speaker for Women in Science Day, Association for Women in Science, Washburn University, October.

Kirchner, D., and MacDonald, T. (2010). Matter, Mammals and Molecules: Adventures in Science Education. Keynote Speaker for Women in Science Day, Association for Women in Science, Washburn University, October.

MacDonald, T. (2008). Fruit-Flavored Folding, RCSB (Research Collaboratory for Structural Bioinformatics) Protein Data Bank Newsletter, Winter, 36: 5-6.

MacDonald, T. (2007). [Review of Dinosaurs Under the Big Sky], Palaios, DOI: 10-2110/palo.207/BR05.

MacDonald, T. (2007). [Review of Ice Age Mammals of North America], Palaios, DOI: 10-110/palo.207/BR06.

Education: 

Ph.D. - Science Education, University of Kansas

M.Sc. - Vertebrate Paleontology, University of Alberta

B.A. Honors - Biological Anthropology, University of Winnipeg

Grants: 

The Tree Room: Teaching and Learning about Evolutionary Relationships (IMLS)

Understanding the Tree of Life (NSF)

Euteleost Tree of Life (NSF)

Nanotechnology for Renewable Energy (NSF EPSCoR)

Adventures at Nanoscale: Superconductivity (NSF)

Quarked! Adventures in the Subatomic Universe (Google AdWords)

Quarked! Adventures in the Subatomic Universe (NSF EPSCoR, Kauffman Foundation)

Blog Posts: 

Friday, May 20, 2011
Teresa MacDonald

Aquatic Biology summer camp


A recent Science article reported by the New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/13/science/13teach.html?_r=5&ref=science&) presented the findings of a study that compared the impact of a traditional lecture format to a more interactive approach to teaching in a large college physics class. The latter approach included soliciting students’ ideas and providing feedback, small group work, and in-class activities — and resulted in improved student learning, attendance and engagement.

The foundation of the ‘deliberate practice’ model and related ideas in educational research is that learners have their own ideas about how the world works, and that we can support learning by actively exploring and connecting with these existing ideas through meaningful, engaging experiences. In short, students are active participants in their learning.
Friday, February 11, 2011
Teresa MacDonald


A recent New York Times article summarized a national survey of high school biology teachers published in Science. Its findings include that only 28 percent of teachers follow recommendations from the National Research Council on teaching evolution, 13 percent advocate creationism in their classrooms, the remaining 60 percent of teachers neither endorse evolution nor any alternate non-scientific explanations.

As the Director of Education at a natural history museum in Kansas, I was forwarded this article many times by friends and colleagues. Sadly, the results of this study are also not surprising; they closely parallel previous studies and my own professional experience. There is no question that evolutionary thinking is a fundamental concept that forms the foundation of modern biological understanding and current research, a point that has been emphasized by evolutionary scientists and educators. Nonetheless, the situation remains relatively static.