Deb Morrison
I am a scientist, an educator, a mother, a climate and anti-oppression activist, and many other things besides. I share this narrative as who I am is a result of where I have been, what I have experienced, and the people who have been central to my life and inspired me in the work I do in the world. We all have histories, connections, and culture that influence our actions, beliefs and assumptions about the world. It is through the transparency of these lived experiences that we come to know each other better, to trust, and to build towards a better future, one I work towards having grounded in respect, compassion, and cooperation of participants within our rich community cultural wealth.

Family logging camp on East Thurlow Island, BC, Canada
 My amazing grandmother, holding my father...also amazing. Family and Childhood
I was born in rural Canada to a family of loggers and mariners (see photo of family logging camp). I had a fairly idyllic life until I was 9 after which I moved a lot and lived in a variety of urban poverty settings until I was 14. At that point I returned to my childhood home to live with my father and brother. During the time my dad was at sea (coastal freighter captain), my brother and I would live with my grandmother. My father and grandmother taught me about nature, environmentalism, and the deep need to be centered around community and justice. All three of these people have been foundations in my life and continue to provide me unwavering love and support.

My father and I moved to Victoria, BC, Canada when I was 16 for his work as a BC Pilot (marine navigator) and I graduated from high school there. After high school I worked and traveled with Canada World Youth/Jeunesse Canada Monde to Quebec and India for nine months in total. I was paired with a wonderful woman named Geeta Narayan during this time, a Karnatakan low caste woman from the Nilgiri hills region of southern India. She was very multilingual and put us Canadians to shame in our mere bilingual traditions. She taught me about internal strength in so many ways, about hardships and prejudices, and about finding your own path.

Early University Work and Ecology
I worked on a cooperative education degree from 1989-1994, working and studying in alternating semesters. During that time I worked in a number of remote communities in forest ecology and resource management capacities. I also spent two years working full time for the BC Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs as I finished my degree, an opportunity I snatched up as it allowed me to interrogate my negative racial assumptions about First Nations people that had been part of the community narrative where I was raised. I was privileged to work with a wide variety of First Nations colleagues and clients and to come to a more complex and deeper understanding of land claims issues, native rights, and history through these interactions. 

In 1994, I completed a BSc in geography with an honors degree entitled "Use and abuse of the commons: an examination of resource management in the pulp and paper industry in coastal British Columbia." This work was a study of the pulp and paper mill which had loomed large in the life of my hometown all my life. I examined how economic and social forces caused them to alter their technologies and make dramatic changes to the mill shifting it from one of the dirtiest polluters to a nearly pollution free facility. After my degree my partner and I traveled throughout Nepal, India and Thailand together for 7 months. This part of the world calls to me again and again. 

Upon returning to Canada, I worked as a forest resource planner for a consulting company and later a field forest silvicultural technician for another firm. My already deep love of the environment and need to understand the complex nature of scientific processes involved in its healthy functioning blossomed during this time. This naturally led to further formal education in this area.

Science Education
In 1997 I began a masters degree in Victoria but was moved over to the University of Western Ontario as my advisor shifted universities shortly after I started. I went with her as I was only involved due to her field project which had sparked my interest. I worked for two summers in the Noland Divide Watershed within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a Long Term Ecological Research monitoring site. During the winters I took courses in the Plant Sciences & Environmental Sciences departments and processed field samples in the lab. My dissertation was entitled "Nitrogen sink versus source potential of coarse woody debris in the red spruce-Fraser fir forest of the southern Appalachians, USA." 

The most prominent experience I had during this time was the opportunity to teach undergraduate biology laboratory classes for the Population Ecology course run by Dr. Herbert Kronzucker. In my many conversations with him about science and education I came to think of myself as an educator as well as a scientist. I really enjoyed my experiences in the classroom but was a little disheartened at times that not all my students had a love of learning about science...instead some of them were just "playing school" to get to a particular goal such as med school or a high paying job. I love science! I couldn't understand why this was not so central to my students.

In 2000, before finishing my master's thesis, my partner and I decided to move to the US. My partner left Ontario to move to Colorado where he had found work in January of that year and I was able to join him by September of 2000. I spent that year writing my masters thesis, working on publications and trying to decide which direction to take my life in. Education won out.

In 2001 I began working for John Dewey Middle School in Mapleton Public Schools as a middle school science teacher. While I didn't know it at the time I had landed in one of the best supported, most dedicated and innovative settings available to me. I was coached by two senior special education teachers on how to teach and so learned science teaching as a fundamentally differentiated practice, with attention to the needs of each individual student. I was surrounded by collaborative grade level peers who co-planned across subject areas and worked as a team to understand and support each of our students. I was guided by a principal who had assembled one of the most dedicated staffs and stood behind them while also pulling them aside to give clear concise advice when needed. 

I was in a classroom with a widely diverse student body who spoke multiple languages, had different ability classifications and challenges, were racially very different from each other and who were at the shift between childhood and adulthood (7th and 8th grades). I saw both anger at schooling and desire to learn in them. I saw curiosity and cynicism  I learned to give respect before expecting it. I learned that teaching was about communication and relationships and love of understanding each other and the world around us. I learned that I loved the classroom, the students, the work of science education. I learned that not everyone saw this enterprise as did I.

In 2004, my partner and I became parents. I thought I would be able to go back to the classroom after my leave but realized quite quickly that I couldn't seem to part with my daughter for the entire week. Somehow the focus in my life had shifted to the care and protection of this little bundle of joy, and again with her brother. I started to see the world in a different way than I had before. I understood the love of my father and grandmother on a deeper level. I found my relationship with my mother more problematic. I began to see my partner in a whole new way.

In becoming a parent, I began to think more deeply and feel more responsible to working towards both a just world for my children and the children of others. I think I started to really understand community responsibility more deeply than I ever had before. This started me questioning my white and privileged positionality and how I could foster opportunities for others, particularly with respect to participation in science and democratic decisions facing us around climate change. I also started thinking deeply about the responsibility I have to raise white children who are themselves agents of change in the world with respect to injustices.

Equity in Science and Science Education - Understanding Roots of Inequity
In 2006 we moved to Montreal, QC, Canada with my partner's work to be able to be close for our green card processing which was occurring there. This was a great opportunity to refresh our french and have the kids surrounded by the Quebecois language and culture. During my time in Quebec, as I came out of the mommy stupor, I began to think more deeply about education and what I wanted to know how to be effective in the teaching and learning. I realized that I was missing a lot of context in the US due to my lack of understanding about American history. I began to read a great deal about the complex institution that is US education. This new knowledge raised many other questions so I decided to apply to grad school and pursue a doctoral degree in science education. 

After returning to Colorado as green card holders, I was able to work part time as a science teacher for the Colorado Options program through Aurora Public Schools. I worked with home schooled students in Boulder, Longmont and Broomfield during this time and was able to think a lot about the wide varieties of beliefs that students bring into educational spaces. 

In 2008 I began my doctoral work at the University of Colorado at Boulder in science education, instruction and curriculum. I came to understand why students, like those I had worked with, who represented some of the most marginalized students across the nation, were getting so short changed by the educational system. Wow was social science graduate work different from scientific graduate work. Apparently there was a whole other language and set of skills I had to learn before I could even understand or begin to work on the things that most concerned me. 

Lucky for me I had fabulous peers. In an effort to survive our first year, (now Dr.) Subini Annamma and I began to work together....she had expertise in qualitative work and I had some in quantitative methods. In addition, I began to get to know (now Dr.) Elizabeth Mendoza, another cohort member, due to frequent side conversations in the hall about the lack of racial analysis in our course conversations. Together these two amazing scholars introduced me to a world of literature and scholars for which I was thirsty. I had so many questions about racism, oppression in general, the lived worlds of students I thought should be succeeding and participating in science but others viewed as unable, unmotivated or deficit in some other way. With these women, and others, I participated in the formation of RISE and continue to participate in a multitude of ways in issues of anti-oppressive education while at the University and beyond into many other aspects of my life. 

My dissertation research, conducted under Dr. Erin Furtak, explored the formative assessment practices of high school biology teachers and the potential of these practices to improve equity in their classrooms. My other research interests included work on critical science pedagogy, teacher learning communities as foci of classroom change, and understanding the intersectionality of race and gender disproportionality in school experiences and outcomes. I was able to pursue these other research interests through collaborations with peers and project work with other faculty. I taught in a wide variety of university teacher education based courses (see vita) with fantastic co-teachers and/or mentors such as Dr. Craig Schneider, Dr. Erin Furtak, Dr. Valerie Otero, Julie Andrew, Dr. Victoria Hand, Dr. Sue Hopewell, Dr. Ben Kirshner, Dr. Shelley Zion, Dr. Elizabeth Mendoza, Dr. Adam York, Dr. Susan Buhr, and Emily Kellagher. 

Early in my career at the University of Colorado I began a continuing relationship with the wonderful folks at CIRES around climate science educationThey facilitated and/or collaborated on work with a variety of educators and scholars in more informal teacher education settings including the amazing teachers and educators involved in the MGL and ICEE climate science courses I have taught as well as Wynn Martens, Dr. Linda Molner Kelley, Jeanne McDonald, Sophie Roudane, Dr. Cesar Nufio, Dr. Anne Gold and Dr. Susan Sullivan (Buhr). I appreciate the relationships I developed across the University (CUTeachLMAC; CIRES; UCAR/NCAR; NOAA) and across the nation (AMSE and their association with NSTA; NARST; NASA Outreach) to facilitate this work in teacher professional development on equity and on climate science education (an issue near and dear to me as a scientist and educator). 

Equity in Science and Science Education  - Becoming a Learning Scientist
Between 2014-2016 I had the honor of working with dedicated colleagues at Broomfield Heights Middle School. I deeply enjoyed the days spent with students thinking about how to best foster scientific literacy, critical thinking and equity in science learning. I was sad to leave these colleagues and students when I immigrated back to Canada in May of 2016.

Pender Island

I'm currently working (part time remotely as I now live on Pender Island, BC ) with the amazing crew at the University of Washington's LIFE Center, the Everyday Science and Technology Group, and Institute for Science and Math Education (check out the STEM Teaching Tools produced through here) with Dr. Phil Bell. This is a great opportunity to work with educators, students, and educational leaders around issues of equity in conjunction with the implementation of the NGSS. I am, or have been, involved in several great projects including, the Partnership for Science and Engineering Practices
 (part of the Research and Practice Collaboratory work), the STEM+C Curriculum effort, and the ACESSE collaboration with CSSS. Most recently I have been helping to facilitate the Washington initiative on climate science education, ClimeTime (@WAClimeTime); supporting scientists and educators on the Weather X project in Maine and New Hampshire to collaboratively design climate justice centered curriculum for rural youth; and collaborating with my own local community and the W̱SÁNEĆ nation on the ṮEṮÁĆES Climate Action Project. This work has been feeding into international efforts I am also involved with around education, communication and outreach related to climate action (ECOS) which is supporting UN FCCC efforts to center climate education as a needed goal globally.

In my work I help educators reframe and reorganize learning in ways to build on students' natural curiosity and reduce or eliminate oppressive schooling structures. Learning can occur in respectful environments, content can be taught in ways that engage critical stance to knowledge, and learning should be centered on meaningful problems relevant to the lived worlds of our students in localized contexts. All of my work is centered on the goal of diversifying thought in society and science specifically to foster environmental literacy with the goal of addressing climate change awareness and action. My current work is expanding into ways to support rural educators in STEM, issues of equity and teacher education more broadly. I write collaboratively with a wide variety of scholars on a range of issues that are important to me and those with whom I work. Please see my vita for presentations that indicate forthcoming publication work and for existing publications. 

Science Educators for Equity, Diversity and Social Justice (SEEDS)
In 2017, I worked with colleagues from a wide variety of institutions to create a non-profit centered on supporting researchers, educators and activists (identities which may be all in the same person at times), to work across the research-practice boundary in science education in an effort to foster deeper social justice opportunities for students, teachers, researchers and all those involved in the enterprise of science education.

Consulting - TREE Educational Services
Due to many of my amazing peers and mentors all over the place I've had some great opportunities to consult on issues of science education and equity including working with 500 Women Scientists, Earth Science Women's Network, Aspen Global Change InstituteBVSD, NASATFA and the Billion People Project. Thanks to all those who have participated in this work as it is often difficult, both emotionally and in finding resources, to be able to engage in meaningful equity focused work in science education. I have run most of this consulting work through my own LLC.

Think Globally, Act Locally - The Islands Trust
In the fall of 2018 I became the North Pender Island Trustee for the Islands Trust, a unique form of local governance that has the goal to: 

"The object of the Trust is to preserve and protect the Trust Area and its unique amenities and environment for the benefit of the residents of the Trust Area and of British Columbia generally, in cooperation with municipalities, regional districts, improvement districts, other persons and organizations and the government of British Columbia."

I feel honoured to have this opportunity to represent my community and support thoughtful decision making about local environmental management.