Meet the REUs

Meagan Sundstrom

Home Institution: University of Connecticut
Research Project: Research-based Instructional Strategies for Teaching Physics
UW Mentor(s): Peter Shaffer

Q: What are your physics/science interests?
Although I am fascinated by both classical and quantum mechanics in general, my research interest pertains to Physics Education. Particularly, I am interested in how different cognitive concepts and teaching instruction strategies impact student learning at the undergraduate level. At my home institution, I am working on an investigation of how the teaching style of Studio Physics fosters Intellectual Humility (IH) within students as compared to a traditional lecture-style learning environment.

Q: What are your other interests?
I love all things related to sports, and I play on the UConn Women's Club Lacrosse team. I also love traveling and discovering new places, cooking and coming up with new recipes, using different types of media to create artwork, and learning the Spanish language.

Q: What would you like to do after college?
After completing my undergraduate education, I would like to pursue Physics in a doctoral program doing Physics Education Research.

Q: Tell us one strange but interesting fact about yourself.
I have never drank a cup of coffee or eaten a salad in my life.

Q: What first sparked your interest in Physics?
On the first day of AP Physics in high school, my teacher sent us in groups to lab tables covered in random equipment and said "Okay, now figure out the spring constant of this spring." He did not give any equations, instructions, or direction, and I think the experimental curiosity and critical thinking that this problem solving activity demanded really drew me into scientific inquiry, particularly in Physics. I have always been interested in Mathematics, and after taking a few Physics classes at the college level I fell in love with how the natural world can be explained numerically. In terms of my research interest in the field of Education, I have always loved learning and the academic environment.

Q: If you could have any pet what would it be?
My favorite exhibit at the aquarium has always been the seahorses. There's something about their intricate, unique figure that fascinates me.

Q: If you had a free month and unlimited funds, how would you spend your time?
I would definitely travel to as many places as possible. I specifically would love to see the Swiss Alps, dive the coral reefs of Australia, try all of the food in Italy, hike the Grand Canyon, and embrace the nature of Ireland.

Q: If you could get a grant to study anything what would it be?
I would continue my exploration of Intellectual Humility (being aware of and acting according to one's intellectual limitations) in regards to learning Physics. IH is a rising field of interest in a lot of disciplines, and it has not really been investigated in the realm of Physics. In this sense, I think there is a lot of experiments and analysis that can be done in different Physics classrooms through the lens of IH to improve Physics Education.