UR Biology Professor Kristine Grayson Awarded NSF Grant for Project on Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences

August 8, 2019

Note: The photos included in the text of this release are of eastern red-backed salamanders. 

UNIVERSITY OF RICHMOND — Assistant Professor of Biology Kristine Grayson is the principal investigator on a nearly $135,000 grant from the National Science Foundation.

Lots of red backed salamanders

The three-year grant is focused on applying Grayson’s research on eastern red-backed salamanders to further educational strategies in STEM disciplines. She received the award along with former UR postdoctoral fellow Raisa Hernández Pacheco. Specifically, Grayson, Hernández Pacheco (now an assistant professor at California State Long Beach), and a team of collaborators will explore using CURE (Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences) models to facilitate opportunities across the biology curriculum.

“Reports on undergraduate STEM education continue to call for reform that incorporates active learning strategies,” said Grayson. “Recent evidence suggests CURE models are excellent examples of active learning that engage students in the practice of science and lead to increased persistence of students in STEM disciplines.”

This project will apply the research model of the Salamander Population Adaptation Research Collaboration network, which Grayson has beSingle red backed salamanderen part of for four years, toward creating course-based modules to engage undergraduates in research in the classroom.

The award is part of a collaborative project between scientists and education researchers from five primary institutions: University of Richmond, Michigan State University, Bridgewater State University, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and Pennsylvania State University. The principle investigator at Bridgewater State University is Caitlin Fisher-Reid, who taught at UR from 2012 to 2014.

The researchers will work collaboratively across institutions to develop curriculum and implement field and data modules in a variety of courses with the ultimate goal of increasing opportunities for meaningful research experiences to undergraduate students.

Grayson has taught at the University of Richmond since 2015. She has published widely in professional journals and previously received funding from the NSF for her research in invasion ecology. Her areas of expertise include population ecology, physiological ecology, the conservation of amphibians and reptiles, and the spread of invasive forest pests.


The National Science Foundation is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 to support research and people to create knowledge that transforms the future.