Meet Celeste Frazier Barthel, a Ph.D. in Education alumna with a focus on science education. Her research in the College of Education was advised by Professor Martin Storksdieck, the director of the STEM Research Center.


For Celeste's Ph.D. research, she looked at scientists' perspectives on learning and engagement in outreach. Her research investigated the relationship between scientists’ personal understanding of learning their role when engaging the general public about their research. But finishing her dissertation was a winding journey.


Celeste is not only a first-generation Ph.D. candidate, but she is also a first-generation high school graduate. Before beginning her graduate studies at Oregon State University, Celeste taught at an all-girls high school in Maryland. As an educator and supporter of women in STEM, she guided a robotics team there. It was this passion and other related work that led her to an interest in Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Eventually, she connected with Dawn Wright, at the time, a geography professor and researcher at OSU, and decided to pursue a Ph.D. in geography with Dr. Wright. Once at OSU, she combined interests in geography and STEM.


Before completing her degree, Celeste was offered a professorship at Wilson College in Pennsylvania. Her committee at the time encouraged her to take the job, so she did. Celeste enjoyed the work there but struggled to complete her Ph.D. After a few years, she and her family moved back to Corvallis to pick up where she left off. But the return was more difficult than expected because administrative procedures had changed. She felt like she was starting over. In addition to the pauses and shifts in her research interests, Celeste said, "There have been other bumps in the road."


Nevertheless, Celeste persevered and managed to work full time, volunteer, and provide care for a child diagnosed with a chronic illness. When she was on the cusp of finishing her Ph.D., Celeste was a recipient of a Dissertation Completion Award from the Graduate School. Celeste explained she feels grateful for all the support she has had throughout her time at OSU.


Photo Credit: Hussain Al Balushi