Meet our Graduate Fellows

If you are interested in applying for a CMSE graduate fellowship, please submit your application here.  If you have further questions, please contact our Associate Director, Dr. Alice Steimle, by emailing: asteimle@olemiss.edu.

Whitney Jackson

Graduate Research Fellow – Science
Jackson Avenue Center, Suite Q
wjackson@go.olemiss.edu
662-915-6621

After graduating from Mississippi College, Whitney began teaching second grade at Raymond Elementary  School in Hinds County.  After relocating to North Mississippi, she found herself at North Pontotoc Middle School where the student population was growing.  She initially divided her time between seventh grade science and eighth grade reading.  Over the next four years, Whitney taught a mix of science and language arts at the middle school level.  After several years of attending a NASA sponsored workshop led by the Center for Mathematics and Science Education (CMSE) at the University of Mississippi, she applied for the graduate fellowship which allowed her to pursue a graduate degree as a full time student. During this time, Whitney has led professional development sessions both locally and nationally as well as participated in multiple teacher workshops and conferences offered through the CMSE.  She currently coordinates the Astronomy Week program in which facilitators bring space activities and a mobile planetarium to schools across the state.

Her research interests focus on improving student perceptions of scientists in order to promote STEM careers as viable options for Mississippi’s students. Whitney hopes to continue influencing teachers by leading statewide professional development sessions. She is also interested in developing district-wide science curriculums, focusing on supporting teachers in primary grades.

Justin Ragland

Graduate Research Fellow – Science
Jackson Avenue Center, Suite Q
jcraglan@go.olemiss.edu
662-915-6621

Justin Ragland is a Graduate Research Fellow for the Center for Mathematics and Science Education. He has a B.A.Ed. from the University of Mississippi and is currently working towards his M.Ed. in Secondary Science Education. His research interests include the implementation of new pedagogical strategies and the development of cross-curricular content. He is currently a member of the Science Fellow team that has created and implemented the “Knuckle Down on the New Standards: MS College- and Career-Readiness Standards for Science” series of professional development workshops for grades K-12. He also travels statewide with our portable planetarium providing students with an opportunity to see the Earth, planets, stars, and more in an entirely new way. In addition, Justin works with K-12 students at STEM excursion days by creating physical science-based demonstrations and activities for the students to take part in. Justin has presented at both local and state conferences. He is certified to teach physics and is looking forward to entering the high school classroom after graduation in May 2018.

Paige Johnsen

Graduate Research Fellow – Science
Jackson Avenue Center, Suite Q
mpellenb@go.olemiss.edu
662-915-6621

Paige Johnsen is a Graduate Research Fellow for the Center for Mathematics and Science Education. She has a Bachelor of Science degree from the Mississippi State University in Elementary Education and is currently working towards her M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction. She is currently a member of the Science Fellow team that has created and implemented the “Knuckle Down on the New Standards: MS College- and Career-Readiness Standards for Science” series of professional development workshops for grades K-12. She also travels statewide with our portable planetarium providing opportunities for students to see the Earth, planets, stars, and more in an entirely new way.

Sarah Wildman

Graduate Research Fellow – Mathematics
Jackson Avenue Center, Suite Q
slwildma@go.olemiss.edu
662-915-6621

Sarah Wildman is a Graduate Research Fellow for the Center for Mathematics and Science Education. She has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Mississippi in Elementary Education and is currently working towards her master’s degree in Elementary Education with an emphasis in mathematics and science. At the CMSE, she primarily works on the “Creating Continuity and Connections across Content” Project (C4 Project) that aims to help K-8 mathematics teachers gain a deeper understanding of the progression of mathematical content across the elementary and middle grades specifically with regard to numbers, operations, and algebraic reasoning.  Sarah also works with K-12 students at STEM excursion days by creating hands-on math and science activities for the students to take part in. Sarah has presented at both local and state conferences.

Audra Polk

Graduate Research Fellow – Mathematics
Jackson Avenue Center, Suite Q
afpolk@go.olemiss.edu
662-915-6621

Audra Polk is originally from Mobile, AL. She found her passion for teaching at the age of 16, and has always been interested in the complexities of mathematics. She completed her B.S. in Mathematics at Mississippi University for Women and Men in 2016, and is currently working on her Master’s in pure mathematics at the University of Mississippi while working as a graduate research fellow at for the Center for Mathemathics and Science Education.