Kathleen A. Marrs, Ph.D.

Professor, Biology

SL 330
(317) 278-4551
Research Areas:
Science Education


My faculty area of excellence is in teaching, and I work throughout campus on discipline-based education research (DBER) initiatives. I frame my philosophy and approach to teaching around High-Impact Educational Practices (HIPs), active learning practices that have a strong basis in research about student learning and are known benefit college students from across backgrounds (learning communities, authentic undergraduate research, and capstone courses). I design classroom and lab experiences based on Scientific Teaching, an evidence-based approach to instructional design that actively engages all students in the process of science, as well as Vision & Change in Undergraduate Biology, a framework that incorporates teaching exciting new developments in biology integrated with what we know about how people learn. A successful strategy to increase student involvement in research is accomplished through Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences (CUREs) we have developed for gateway biology courses. CUREs integrate research skills and practices into the course curriculum, providing a large number of students the opportunity to engage in authentic research in the classroom and labs, becoming involved in discovery, collaboration, iteration, and pursuit of broadly relevant or important work related to areas of faculty research in the department.


1993–1995Stanford University, Palo Alto, CAPostdoctoral Fellowship
1991–1993Sandoz Agro Biotechnology, Palo Alto, CAPostdoctoral Fellowship
1985–1990University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, ILPh.D. Biological Sciences
1980–1984Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington, ILB.A. Biology

Academic Appointments

2023–PresentProfessor of Biology, Department of Biology, IUPUI
2021–2022Interim Executive Associate Dean, IUPUI Honors College
2009–2020Director of the Woodrow Wilson Indiana Teaching Fellowship program at IUPUI
2009–2015Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, School of Science, IUPUI

External Funding and Grant Support

  1. Marrs, K. A. (PI), Magee, P. A. (Co- PI), "Indiana STEM Teacher Recruitment Fund Grant Program: Hoosier STEM Academy," Indiana Commission for Higher Education, Sponsored by Ball State University, $924,000.00. (July 1, 2017 - June 30, 2023).
  2. Marrs, K. A. (PI), Marrs, J. (Co- PI), "Research-Based Implementation of CUREs in Biology: Evaluating CUREs as a Model for Persistence and Success in Undergraduate Science Majors and as a Model for Accelerating Departmental Change among Faculty Teams," SEIRI (STEM Education and Innovation Research Institute), IU Internal, $30,000.00. (June 2017 - December 2019).
  3. Allen, T. (PI), Marrs, K. A. (Co-PI), Klyczek, K. (Co-PI), Seitz, H. (Co-PI), "RCN-UBE: Midwest and Great Plains PULSE Network - Building Institutional Capacity for Inclusive Excellence in Undergraduate Biology Education," National Science Foundation Research Coordinated Networks in Undergraduate Biology Education, $483,759.00. (March 2017 - June 2023).
  4. Marrs, K. A. (PI), "WWF Induction Support," Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, Foundation, $669,500.00. (January 1, 2011 - June 30, 2020).
  5. O'Donnell, M. (PI), Marrs, K. A. (Co-PI), Anderson, G. (Co-PI), Scott, W. (Co-PI), "Advancing Undergraduate Chemical Education Through Contextualized Organic Laboratories," National Science Foundation, $220,000.00. (2011 - 2014).
  6. Marrs, K. A. (PI), Rhodes, S. (Co-PI), Crowell, P. (Co-PI), Tedesco, L. (Co-PI), Gavrin, A. (Co-PI), "The GK-12 Urban Educators Program at IUPUI," National Science Foundation, $2,988,355.00. (2008 - 2013).
  7. Watt, J. X. (PI), Marrs, K. A. (Co-PI), Hundley, S. (Co-PI), Gavrin, A. D. (Co-PI), Feldhaus, C. R. (Co-PI), "Central Indiana STEM Talent Expansion Program," National Science Foundation, $1,991,855.00. (2010 - 2016).

Selected Peer Reviewed Publications - IUPUI

  1. Dasgupta, A., Sarmah, S., Marrs, J., & Marrs, K. A. (2022). Engaging Students with Experimentation in an Introductory Biology Laboratory Module. In Trends in Teaching Experimentation in the Life Sciences (p. p.263–p280.). Springer Nature Switzerland AG.
  2. Muralidharan†, P., Connors†, C. T., Mohammed†, A. S., Sarmah, S., Marrs, K. A., Marrs, J. A., & Chism, G. W. (2017). Turmeric Extract Rescues Ethanol‐Induced Developmental Defect in the Zebrafish Model for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). Journal of Food Science, 82(9), 2221–2225
  3. Sarmah, S., Chism, 3rd, G. W., Vaughan, M., Muralidharan†, P., Marrs, J., & Marrs, K. A. (2016). Using Zebrafish to Implement a Course-Based Undergraduate Research Experience to Study Teratogenesis in Two Biology Laboratory Courses. Zebrafish, 13(4), 293–304.
  4. Feldhaus, C., Bunu‐Ncube, L., Mzumara, H., Watt, J., Hundley, S., Marrs, K. A., & Gavrin, A. (2015). Using Mini‐Grants to Create Sustained Faculty Buy‐In for Student‐Centered Pedagogy and Assessment in STEM Foundation Courses. Assessment Update, 27(2), 3–14.
  5. Scott, W., Denton, R., Marrs, K. A., Durrant, J., Samaritoni, Abraham, M., Brown, S., Carnahan†, J., Fischer, L., Glos†, C., Sempsrott†, P., & O'Donnell, M. (2015). Distributed Drug Discovery: Advancing Chemical Education Through Contextualized Combinatorial Solid-Phase Organic Laboratories. The Journal of Chemical Education, 5, 819–826.
  6. Watt, Sorge, B. H., Fore, G., Gavrin, A. D., & Marrs, K. A. (2014). The Effects of Implementing Recitation Activities on Success Rates in a College Calculus Course. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 14(4), 1–17.
  7. Adler†, J., Judd, M., Marrs, K. A., & Wells, C. D. (2013). Day as a Pathologist: Utilization of Technology to Guide Students in Exploring Careers in Breast Cancer Pathology. American Biology Teacher, 75(8), 559–565.
  8. Blazek†, J., Cooper, G., Judd, M., Roper, R. J., & Marrs, K. A. (2013). Trying out genes for size: experiential learning in the high school classroom. American Biology Teacher, 75(9), 657–662.
  9. Redelman†, C., Hawkins†, M., Drumright, F., Ransdell, B., Marrs, K. A., & Anderson, G. (2012). Inquiry-based Examination of Chemical Disruption of Bacterial Biofilms&. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education, 40(3), 191–197.
  10. Allen†, J., Buckingham, J., Roper, R. J., & Marrs, K. A. (2010). How Middle School Students Come Face to Face with Down Syndrome Research. Science Scope, 33, 20–25.

Professional, Administrative, and University Service

Selected School/Department Service

  • 2020–2021, School of Science Faculty Steering Committee, Officer, Past President. Elected
  • 2019–2020, School of Science Faculty Steering Committee, Officer, President of the Faculty. Elected
  • 2018–2019, School of Science Faculty Steering Committee, Officer, Secretary. Elected
  • 1999–2021, IUPUI Biology Club, Advisor, 22 years

Campus Service

  • 2022–Present, Indiana University Vision 2024 Services for Purdue Students Task Force, Member, Invited.
  • 2022–Present, 2030 Committees: Pillar 1: Student Success. And Pillar 3: Service to the State of Indiana.
  • 2022–Present, IUPUI Office for Women, Advisory Board, Member, Invited.
  • 2018–Present, STEM Education Innovation & Research Institute (SEIRI), Faculty Associate, Invited.
  • 2017–2020, Indianapolis Faculty Council (Executive Committee) IFC-EC Member, Elected.

Community and National Service

  • 2021–Present, Girl Scouts of Central Indiana, member, Board of Directors, Elected
  • 2019–Present, Women4Change Indiana, Member, Invited Board of Directors, Appointed.
  • 2018–Present, Ivy Tech Community College-Indianapolis, Biology Advisory Board. Member, Invited.
  • 2016–Present, PLTW Project Lead the Way Training Partner – Director, Appointed.
  • 2015–Present, PULSE Partnership for Undergraduate Life Sciences Education, Fellow, Invited.

Honors and Awards

  • 2023, DUE Epitome Award, Division of Undergraduate Education, IUPUI
  • 2023, Jagathon 2023 Supporter of the Year Award, IUPUI
  • 2022, Advocate for Equity in Accessibility Award, IUPUI Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
  • 2021, Outstanding IUPUI Woman Leader, Office for Women (nominated by students)
  • 2021, Sarah Baker High-Impact Practices Teaching Award
  • 2020, IUPUI School of Science Innovative Educator Award
  • 2019, Herron-Bodner-Boschmann Award for Scholarly Work in Science Education
  • 2019, Women's History Month Honoree, Women4Change Indiana
  • 2017, Norman Brown Diversity Scholars Program Mentor of the Year

IUPUI Athletics Favorite Professor - Recent Recognitions

  • 2022–2023, Cross Country & Track, Soccer, Softball, Swimming & Diving.
  • 2021–2022, Women’s Basketball, Soccer, Swimming & Diving.
  • 2020–2021, Cross country & track, Soccer.
  • 2019–2020, Cross country & track, Soccer, Swimming & diving, Tennis.
  • 2017–2018, Cross country & track, Soccer, Softball, Swimming & diving.
  • 2016–2017, Cross country & track, Softball, Swimming.
  • 2015–2016, Cross country & track, Soccer, Volleyball.

Full CV