Assistant Professor, Distance-Accessible Astronomy Education Project This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Campbell Hall 483A
(205) 934-8068

Research and Teaching Interests: Astronomy History in the Southeast, Sustainability Education, Critical Qualitative Research Methodologies in Education, Supporting Experiences of PEERs (Persons Excluded Because of their Ethnicity or Race) in Science Teaching & Learning

Office Hours: By appointment

Education:

  • B.A., University of California Santa Cruz, Pure Mathematics
  • M.S., San Francisco State University, Physics
  • Ph.D., University of Alabama, Educational Research Methodologies

I still remember the late summer’s evening when walking home from my friend’s house at the age of 13. I looked up at the night sky and was simply in awe. I felt conviction that studying the stars would be a lifelong endeavor. Thankfully, the local amateur astronomy club welcomed me with open arms. Even though our southern California skies were bright orange due to light pollution and smog, soon I was helping persons, young and old, look through telescopes at objects like Saturn and the Moon. My high school physics teacher helped me start an astronomy club. In these places and spaces, I was typically one of few women.

My goal in teaching astronomy is to create an inclusive environment that values the diversity of learners that come to my class. I aim to publicly acknowledge and support students in contending with oppressions that have persisted in science and astronomy since their beginnings. My research methodology is responsive to this aim. Rather than invoking a scientific method toward the study of education, which typically foregrounds numerical data pertaining to students’ learning (e.g., surveys, quiz scores, quantifying interview responses), my research methodology is sensitive to important ethical and emotional dimensions of learning that arise in often unpredictable circumstances of human interaction.

I also aim to support students in connecting their astronomy learning with their local and global communities. For example, in one project I teach, students identify public light fixtures that can be modified to reduce light pollution. By working together, students can help make the night sky more visible worldwide. I invite students to become science citizens in projects like this one and others, purposed toward cultivating and improving an understanding of the Earth and night sky through the scientific process.

As a recent hire at UAB, I aim to build connections with neighboring institutions that have planetariums and observatories, to support UAB students’ use of important Alabama community resources. In this endeavor, I plan to also seek intellectual support from these institutions’ astronomy leaders to record modern histories of southeastern astronomy.

  • Recent Courses
    • Astronomy of the Universe (AST 101)
    • Astronomy of the Solar System (AST 103)
    • Extraterrestrial Life (AST 105)
  • Select Publications
    • Wooten, M. M., & Ryker, K. (in press). Perturbing current boundary conditions in discipline-based and science education research in the Anthropocene: Implications for research and teaching communities. In J. Bazzul, M. Wallace, M. Higgins, & S. Tolbert (Eds.), Re-imagining science education in the Anthropocene. Palgrave MacMillan.
    • Wooten, M. M. & Corlew, J. (in press, 2021). Engaging Nashville’s youth in farming, food choice, and food access issues: Two programs by a Nashville nonprofit. In A. Patchen, L. Esters, & I. Decoito (Eds.), Designing urban agriculture programs to improve STEM learning and teaching. Springer.
    • Wooten, M. M., Coble, K., Puckett, A. W., & Rector, T. A. (2018). Investigating introductory astronomy students’ perceived impacts from participation in course-based undergraduate research experiences. Physical Review Physics Education Research, 14(1), 010151, 1– 21. doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevPhysEducRes.14.010151