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Erika Grundstrom

Senior Lecturer
Director of Astronomy Labs

Research Interests

My research interests are strongly focused toward education (especially non-science majors and K-12) and how people learn.  Bringing students to excellent online data sources and databases where they can develop answerable research questions is a strong interest of mine – these inquiry-based activities have been highlighted in the CIRTL MOOC on “Evidence-Based Undergraduate STEM Teaching” (check out this video).  I also examine how utilizing structured in-class activities improves learning and attitudes toward science.  Another interest is investigating perceptions of the huge time and distance scales inherent in astronomical study (be it in the classroom or in the planetarium).

My science disciplinary research focuses on optical spectroscopy of massive stars that are spinning extremely fast - determining WHY they’re spinning so fast (are they born that way or made that way through binary interactions) and examining components of binary systems containing such rapidly rotating stars (including main sequence stars, stripped subdwarfs, and neutron stars).


Dr. Erika Grundstrom (“Dr. G”) loves sharing the wonder of the Universe with everyone young and old!  She is the Director of Astronomy Labs and Outreach in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Vanderbilt University.  Education and outreach have brought her (and often an inflatable planetarium) into over 100 schools throughout the Nashville region as well as provided opportunities to develop and teach curriculum for fifth-, sixth-, and ninth-grade students in public schools.  Since 2009, Dr. G has taught with the Vanderbilt Program for Talented Youth teaching gifted 1st through 12th graders about the awesomeness of the universe.  In addition to her education and outreach activities, Dr. Grundstrom serves on the Vanderbilt College of Arts & Sciences Faculty Council.