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Adrian A

- Research Program Mentor

PhD candidate at University of Utah


Botany, ecology, developmental psychology, educational psychology, learning sciences


I'm a fourth-year Ph.D. student in learning in cognition at the University of Utah. I currently study how students interact with data in undergraduate lab settings. I graduated from the University of Tulsa in 2020 with bachelors of science in biology and psychology. Between those areas of study, being a teaching assistant for the introductory biology labs my senior year of undergrad, and spending three of my four undergraduate years tutoring in biology, chemistry, English, and psychology, I found my passion in learning sciences. I've been involved in research in biology, psychology, and education for a total of seven years. My current research focus is on scientific practices in lab course and field course settings. I study how students in these courses engage in skills like observation, data analysis, and experimental planning. Currently, I'm working on projects studying student observation skills in field and lab settings. I've been mentoring undergraduate students as a graduate student for three years in a variety of projects related to education research and biology. I always appreciated it when I had older students mentor me, so now I intend to pay it forward for the next generation. When I'm not nose-deep in research, I'm probably doing something related to nature, whether I'm out in the mountains of Utah, gardening or tending my houseplants, or at a birding outing. I also enjoy baking, reading a good book, and engaging in a variety of art (painting, crafts, music). A healthy work-life balance is very important to me.

Project ideas

Project ideas are meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

Why do some plants hate tap water?

This project will explore plant physiology by studying the effects of different water sources and filtration methods on house plants. Important topics will include: how do plants process minerals and chemicals in tap water? What solutions can home gardeners use to help their plants thrive? Learn how to conduct controlled experiments to test hypotheses.

How do school start times affect students' grades?

This project involves exploring current research on child and adolescent development as it relates to sleep. What do we know about children's and teen's sleep needs? How have some schools responded to this information? Learn how to gather quality information from different sources and synthesize to make a conclusion.

How do we know what we know?

This project will explore current theories on the nature of knowledge, how people acquire new knowledge, and how these theories impact education. Do teachers view knowledge similarly? Learn how educational researchers use interviews to understand how people think by using those interviews to gather information.

Teaching experience

I tutored undergraduate student-athletes in biology, chemistry, English, and psychology for one years. I was an undergraduate teaching assistant for the introductory biology labs for one year. As a graduate student, I have mentored four undergraduate summer interns on educational research projects and one undergraduate student with their senior thesis project on biology education.


Work experience

University of Utah (2020 - Current)
Graduate Research Assistant
University of Tulsa (2019 - 2020)
Undergraduate Teaching Assistant
University of Tulsa (2017 - 2020)
Undergraduate Research Assistant
University of Tulsa (2017 - 2020)


University of Tulsa
BS Bachelor of Science (2020)
Double Major in Biology and Psychology
University of Utah
MS Master of Science
Learning and Cognition
University of Utah
PhD Doctor of Philosophy candidate
Learning and Cognition

Completed Projects

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