Teacher receives research award

Gissel McDonald was presented with a certificate of the 2018 Tom Steadman Teacher-Research Opportunity Award by Dr. Aron Fenton, professor of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. (Submitted photo)

Gissel McDonald has been named the recipient of the Tom Steadman 2018 Teacher-Research Opportunity Award at the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Department at the University of Kansas Medical Center.

The award is for high school teachers who share hands-on research techniques, and have the opportunity to contribute to original research conducted within the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Department.

McDonald received her bachelor’s degree in biology with a minor in chemistry fro Texas A&M University in 1999. She began her teaching career in Oklahoma, where she taught middle school science, high school biology, chemistry and physics, and was an adjunct proessor at Connors State college.

During her 15 years teaching various levels of chemistry at Spring Hill High School in Spring Hill, Kansas, she started a traveling chemistry magic show targeted for elementary-aged students to promote interest in science, technology, engineering and math fields.

In 2009, McDonald introduced a Material Science and Technology course to expose students to different STEM fields not traditionally seen at high school. Several former students have now gone on to study polymer engineering, metallurgical engineering, and other fields in material science.

Her past efforts have been recognized by being awarded the Spring Hill’s teacher of the year award in 2007 and the American Chemical Society Midwest Regional Award for Excellence in High School Teaching in 2016.

McDonald is now a Master Teacher for ASM International Education Foundation (a partnership program with local material science industry professionals) and travels the country during the summer, teaching other teachers about material science. The goal of this effort is to encourage material science topics in high school curriculums. McDonald has presented material science at a National Science Teaching Association conference. However, McDonald shows little interest in being content with past achievements. Instead, she continues to serve as the science department chair on her campus, as well as being part of a Building Leadership Team, and being interactive with education within her church.

McDonald was presented with a certificate of the 2018 Tom Steadman Teacher-Research Opportunity Award by Dr. Aron Fenton, professor of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

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