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Savanna Rae Starko

Senior Lecturer

Research Interests

My research interests are in high energy physics – supersymmetry and exotic searches for heavy neutral gauge bosons – and how these phenomena relate to some of the biggest unsolved questions regarding the origins of the universe.  I’m deeply interested in physics pedagogy.  I work with a team of Learning Assistant instructors to understand how Learning Assistants help students to learn and how they create a sense of belonging in the classroom.


Dr. Savanna Rae Starko is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Physics & Astronomy and the Course Coordinator for the Introductory Physics for the Life Sciences sequence (PHYS 1501-1502).  She joined the Vanderbilt faculty in 2020.  She is involved in research with the High Energy Physics group at the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiment of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).  Dr. Starko loves being in the classroom, and as opposed to creating a classroom, she and her Learning Assistants (LAs) assert that they create a true community.  She ensures that students are each seen, heard, and valued.  Dr. Starko has incorporated LAs in each section of PHYS 1501-1502.  She was awarded the College of Arts & Science COVID Innovative Teaching Award for a special focus on inclusivity, engagement, and well-being in Spring 2021.  In addition to her responsibilities in the classroom, Dr. Starko serves on the departmental Climate Committee.  She serves as the Development Committee Chair on the board of a local non-profit, The Edgehill Neighborhood Partnership.  One of her biggest joys is incorporating mindfulness, meditation, and yoga into the classroom because she is a 500-hour registered yoga teacher (RYT) with Small World Yoga in Nashville.

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