Q&A with Alumnus Eric Geimer

Eric Geimer is a December 2013 graduate of the College of Arts and Sciences at USF Sarasota-Manatee. Geimer recently had his research published in The STEAM Journal (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics and plans to pursue a Ph. D.

Eric Geimer

What kind of research are you most interested in?

I am really interested in a broad range of research. Education, as well as how human minds learn, is fascinating to me. Luckily, educational research is considered to be immensely important! At the same time, I have always been interested in history and am greatly intrigued by the wonders of science and technology.

What is your paper “The Efficacy of Mathematics Education” about and how did the opportunity arise for it to be published this month in The STEAM Journal (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics)?

The paper explores whether mathematics education could be improved, why improving mathematics education could be important, such as the socioeconomic impact, and how such an improvement could be implemented. The same regions of the brain that process artistic, spatial beauty seem to be activated while conducting mathematical tasks. We may be able to establish a strong mathematical foundation for students in early grades, one that persists longitudinally, by linking basic arithmetic and geometric principles with artistic principles such as linear perspective and proportion in the curriculum. The mind also seems to be more ready to learn about things it finds interesting, and children seem to find visual art production interesting. Thus, introducing children to math via the visual arts may be a powerful way to introduce the subject. The really nice thing about this is that the hypothesis is a genuine one that can be tested for falsification. Methodologies and the curricula they inspire seem like they should be based on scientifically testable premises. This paper hopefully advances education in that direction even if only infinitesimally.

Regarding the second part of the question, the road to publication began after I went a bit overboard on an ISS intro course’s main research paper. Dr. Trent taught that course and she was very supportive, even spurring me on. Christa Fowler, USFSM’s librarian helped to locate some of the initial data sets and joked that I was attempting Ph.D. level research. After receiving a high grade on the final assignment, I kept working on it, expanding and refining it. After inquiring with some other professors about the work’s potential academic worth, I was encouraged to seek publication. Particularly important was Dr. Sloan, who suggested some potentially relevant journals.

What process did you undergo to have your paper published?

The process toward publication had many steps. The first thing was writing a sound paper, which was an extensive and time-consuming process. The next step was consulting USFSM’s faculty about whether the pursuit of publication was worthwhile. Dr. Trent, Dr. Sloan, Dr. McBrien. Dr. Perry, and Dr. Rose, USFSM’s Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences were all helpful in this regard. The step that followed was a review of publications that might fit the content of the paper. Once that was determined Dr. Perry, on top of all his other work, went out of his way to proofread the paper. He saved me a great deal of embarrassment by finding some key errors I had been oblivious to.

I remember sending the paper off knowing that peer review is not always a friendly process, and that rejection occurs all too often. As a first timer, I didn’t expect that there was much chance of publication. When I received news that publication would occur I was so excited I told everyone! This included a mass email to every USF faculty member I had consulted. Then the revision process began; there were four main sets of extensive revisions requested by the editors at the STEAM journal. The revision process was both difficult and time consuming. Yet, the experience landed me a new friend and mentor, Sara Kapadia, editor in chief at STEAM. Her guidance and the positive support she has continually provided are out of this world. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or to make friends and mentors! Relationships are what will allow you to grow and succeed in both the academic world and in life. On another note, the night before the paper was to be officially published I noticed that for over a year in the “running head” (title) I had been using the word “analyses” when the intended word had been “analysis.” This just goes to show that there will always be room for refining and improving everything in life.

What would you like to do for a career upon graduation?

I had the honor of graduating with my second bachelor’s degree in December 2013 alongside a great group of other students. Since before graduation, I have been applying to graduate programs. My goal is to earn a Ph.D. At this point, I have applied to both masters and doctoral level programs. Very recently I was the recipient of some exciting news from a great graduate program in one of the most exciting locations imaginable. I cannot wait to start! The faculty at USF was supportive, again, in helping direct me toward embarking on such a course and in helping me through this course’s beginnings. Whatever experiences the future may hold, I know that I look forward to continuing the relationships that I started at USFSM.

Why did you choose the major that you chose?

I returned to university with the intent of preparing myself for graduate school. I initially inquired about pursuing a sociology degree; however the Sarasota-Manatee campus didn’t offer the option. When I was informed that there was an Interdisciplinary Social Science degree including two elective cognates, I was really intrigued. Upon studying the available information, I felt like a degree program was designed just for me! I did end up taking some sociology coursework with Dr. Voelkl, and enjoyed the subject, the instruction, and the discussions had with classmates. If you’re thinking about taking some sociology coursework at USFSM, I strongly recommend Dr. Voelkl’s instruction!

What are some of your interests?

Academically I have interests in education, knowledge production and acquisition, history, science and technology, and research. Personally, I’m interested in staying active through activities such as skim boarding and bike riding. Recently I snowboarded for the first time, that was really fun. Some friends from FSU had moved out to Colorado and I had the honor of being their first houseguest! I’ve been thinking about taking up surfing and scuba diving for quite some time, and may finally have the chance to do so. Ever since USF’s summer 2013 Study Abroad program I’ve been bitten by the travel bug, so I’m happily looking forward to any future adventures that may arise.

What was your study abroad experience like?

I was a member of the 2013 Summer B Florence, Italy USF study abroad program. Essentially, I was in Italy for the month of July. On my own, before arrival I spent a week in London, England and after the program concluded I spent a week in Paris, France before returning home. While in the program I went on a USF-related weekend trip to Rome and another weekend I went on my own trip to Italy’s Amalfi Coast. There, I visited the city of Naples, the ruins of Pompeii, and some of Italy’s beaches. After the program concluded, the weekend before I went to France I visited Pisa, Italy which was fantastic. Pisa was where I had my favorite meal in all of Italy. 

What is something about you that people wouldn’t normally know?

I’m an Eagle Scout, and I traveled throughout the wilderness of southern Alaska as a teen with my scout troop. Scouting was a wonderful experience, and I am hopeful that the Boy Scouts of America will follow the Girl Scouts of the USA’s lead toward becoming more inclusive. When I was very young, I had always seemed to love adventure, yet by the time I was earning my first bachelor’s degree from FSU I had become very shy. That shyness prevented me from engaging in extremely social activities like Study Abroad.

Then, of course, I started earning a degree from USF! Dr. Rose and Dr. McBrien were both helpful in encouraging me to take part in USFSM’s study abroad program and in helping me get through it. My experience over a summer in Europe was amazing. Believe me, the experience had its fair share of hiccups, what experience doesn’t? Yet, the experience is an invaluable one, and I encourage every college student to consider trying study abroad. Jim Pulos, the head of USF’s Florence, Italy program was extremely helpful and as responsive as humanly possible when it came to helping to correct the few hiccups that there were. Again, it has been my experience that USF’s greatest strength is its people.

Why did you choose USF Sarasota-Manatee?

After graduating from FSU, in Tallahassee, Fla., I relocated to the Sarasota/Bradenton area. Upon deciding that I’d go back to school, USFSM was a very convenient option. USF is a great research institution, and so it was easy to see how a second degree from USFSM could really prepare me for graduate school.

Would you recommend USFSM to someone else?

I would and I have! The faculty at USFSM is great. They never lacked the time to meet with me and guide me, in fact, that is really the experience I had throughout the entire USF system. I want to take a moment to again thank everyone at USF who, in ways both great and small, made my overall experience earning a second bachelor’s degree a very wonderful and constructive experience. USFSM, and USF in general was a great experience for many students, myself included. If you’re a prospective student, really consider USFSM! A great collegiate experience like the one so many others and I have had while attending USFSM can be yours, too! What’s your excuse?

For more information on the graduate programs that are offered at USF Sarasota-Manatee, visit our Graduate Programs page.