Ron Gray, PhD
Associate Professor, Science Education
Graduate Programs Coordinator
Science & Health Bldg. (#36), Rm. 526
Ph.D., Science Education, Oregon State University, 2009
Masters of Arts in Teaching, secondary science, Willamette University, 2001
Bachelors of Arts, Biology, Willamette University, 1998
My work focuses on providing secondary science teachers the tools to design and implement learning experiences for their students that are highly effective and authentic to the discipline. Much of this work has been centered on model-based inquiry and the integration of scientific practices in a supportive and structured way. I am also interested in the history of science and science studies which, taken together, help to provide a background for understanding what “authentic” scientific practice in the K-12 context might look like. Framing this work are the ideas of practice-based teacher education and ambitious science teaching. Please see the ‘Research‘ page for more details. I am also the graduate programs coordinator for the MAST and MAT-S programs for inservice and preservice teachers.
In addition to my research and work with science teachers, I am interested in conservation education. While a middle school science teacher I worked in the summer as the education coordinator of the Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia. That experience led to work with other international conservation organizations and, more recently, with Earth Expeditions of Miami University. Through Earth Expeditions I have facilitated field courses in conservation hot spots around the world. These courses have included Namibia, Trinidad and Tobago, and, most recently, Malaysian Borneo. I plan to continue this work at NAU with international courses in tropical ecology and biodiversity in the near future.
Before coming to NAU, I coordinated a graduate licensure program in mathematics and science education at Oregon State University where I received my doctorate in science education in 2009. Previously, I was a middle school science teacher in Salem, Oregon, and in South Central Los Angeles. Before I became a teacher I conducted research in pharmacology at Oregon Health Sciences University, immunology at the Scripps Research Institute, and ecology in the Chiricahua National Forest of southern Arizona.
Selected scholarly activities
GP EXTRA: Exploration of recruitment of earth scientists (EXPLORES). Awarded $534,314 to examine a series of interventions in introductory chemistry courses to recruit students into geoscience majors. Funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) IUSE:Geoscience (#1801768). Role: Co-Principal Investigator. PI: James Sample. Co-PIs: Mary Reid, Brandon Cruikshank.
Tuchscherer, R. & Gray, R. E. (Co-PI). Reshaping Engineering Classroom Norms to Diversify the Profession. National Science Foundation, Award #1640328, September 2016–August 2018.
Innovative Collaborative Research Experience and Technical Education (iCREATE). Awarded $840,514 to test of model of community involvement in career and technical education courses to increase the bioscience workforce in Northern Arizona. Funded by the National Science
Foundation (NSF) ITEST program (#1513198). Role: Principal Investigator. Co-PIs: Kenric Kesler, Danielle Ross, Dave Engelthaler, Brent Neilson. 2015-2018
Teaching Organisms Through Modeling and Argumentation in Science (TOMAS). Awarded $510,454 to develop and deliver professional development to the Peoria and Gilbert School Districts. Funded by the Arizona Department of Education Math and Science Partnership (MSP) program. Role: Co-Principal Investigator. PI: Jane Kirkley. Co-PIs: Lori Rubino-Hare, Amy Gingell, Judy Meredith. 2015-2016
Henderson, D., Rothenberg, N., & Gray, R.E. (in press). Chimborazo then and now: Using historical data to demonstrate the effects of global climate change on plant communities. Science Scope.
Boerner-Mercier, J., & Gray, R.E. (2020). Investigating land ethics: Exploring land usage through historical case studies and a student symposium. The Science Teacher, 87(5), 36-42.
Campbell, T., Gray, R.E., Fazio, X. (2019). Representing scientific activity: Affordances and constraints of central design and enactment features of a model based inquiry unit. School Science and Mathematics, 119(8), 475-486.
Gray, R.E. & Rogan-Klyve, A.M. (2018). Talking modeling: Examining science teachers’ modeling-related talk during a model-based inquiry unit. International Journal of Science Education, 40(11), 1345-1366.
Davis, A. & Gray, R.E. (2018). Understanding earthquakes through investigating the Great Sumatran Earthquake of 2004. The Science Teacher, 85(4), 40-47.
Baze, C. & Gray, R.E. (2018). Modeling Tiktaalik: Using a model-based inquiry approach to engage community college students in the practices of science during an evolution unit. Journal of College Science Teaching, 47(4), 12-20.
Askew, J. & Gray, R.E. (2017). The science of Little Boy: Investigating the chemistry behind the first use of a nuclear weapon in warfare. The Science Teacher, 84(8), 45-51.
Askew, J. & Gray, R.E. (2016). Settling the score: Exploring the historic debate over atomic bonding. The Science Teacher, 83(8), 46-54.
Gray, R.E. & Rogan-Klyve, A. (2016, September). Investigating Axial Seamount: Using student generated models to understand plate tectonics. Science Scope.
Rogan-Klyve, A., Halsey Randall, M., St. Claire, T., & Gray, R.E. (2015). Bringing historical scientific arguments back to life: The case of continental drift. Science Scope, 38(7), 25-33.
Gray, R.E. (2014). The distinction between experimental and historical sciences as a framework for improving classroom inquiry. Science Education, 98(2), 327-341.
Gray, R.E., & Kang, N.H. (2014). The structure of scientific arguments by secondary science teachers: Comparison of experimental and historical science topics. International Journal of Science Education, 36(1), 46–65.
Ross, D.K. & Gray, R.E. (2018, April). Influenza-like illnesses and communities: Utilizing partnerships to increase high school students’ interest in STEM careers. Paper presented at the 2018 annual conference of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), New York, NY.
Gray, R.E., Tuchscherer, R. & Gray, C.A. (2018, March). Improving classroom community in an introductory engineering classroom through targeted micro-interventions. Paper presented at the 2018 international conference of the National Association for Research in Science Education (NARST), Atlanta, GA.
Ross, D.K. & Gray, R.E. (2018, March). Increasing high school students’ interest in STEM careers through participation in a project-based bioscience course. Paper presented at the 2018 international conference of the National Association for Research in Science Education (NARST), Atlanta, GA.
Gray, R. E., & Ross, D. K. (2017, August). Examining the role of community partners in STEM education projects. Paper presented at the 2017 international conference of the European Science Education Research Association (ESERA). Dublin, Ireland.
Gray, R.E. (2017, April). The development of a secondary science teacher preparation program framework centered around core practices. Paper presented at the 2017 international conference of the National Association for Research in Science Education(NARST), San Antonio, TX.
Gray, R.E. & Rogan-Klyve, A. (2016, April). Examining teacher responsiveness to student ideas in model based learning classrooms. Paper presented at the 2016 international conference of the National Association for Research in Science Education (NARST), Washington, DC.
Gray, R.E. (2015, March). The role of experimental and historical sciences in classroom inquiry. Presented at the CREATE for STEM Institute Science Seminar Series at Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI.
Gray, R.E. (2015, February). Epistemic practice or glorified worksheet: The role of modeling talk during a model-based inquiry unit. Presented at the Korean Association of Science Education annual conference, Busan, South Korea.