Ph.D. Student Combines Passion in Science with Curiosity of Learning



Moraima Castro was inspired to study education by her experience as a student guide in a physics museum where she had many opportunities to introduce students to new topics in science. Now, as a Ph.D. student at the Rutgers Graduate School of Education (GSE), Moraima is combining her interests in science and education to explore the process of learning.

After receiving her undergraduate degree in genetics from the University of Puerto Rico, Moraima came to Rutgers University to pursue her master’s degree in immunology and gained teaching experience as a teaching assistant (TA) for undergraduate courses in biology. As a TA, Moraima taught students ranging from non-science majors to upperclassmen pursuing science degrees and by doing so she became interested in how students learn at varying levels of development.

With some guidance from a friend who was a doctoral student at the GSE, Moraima met with Dr. Ravit Duncan who encouraged her to consider pursuing her Ph.D. at the GSE. Beginning in 2010, Moraima began the Ph.D. program specializing in Learning Sciences.

Moraima works closely with Dr. Duncan on her research which focuses on learning progressions and modelling. She is also researching conceptual change and how peoples’ understanding change overtime as they are exposed to a new topic.

Moraima plans to graduate in 2016. Following graduation, she hopes to become a professor and teach at a small university. She hopes to continue teaching and encouraging students to explore STEM careers.

Despite her demanding academic responsibilities, Moraima finds time to maintain an active lifestyle.  In her free time, she enjoys participating in Rutgers recreation activities including yoga, whitewater rafting, and rock climbing.

Moraima notes that one of the most valuable aspects of the Ph.D. program is collaboration and interaction with other students. Despite having different research topics, she finds that interacting and connecting with fellow students enhances her overall academic experience as she learns about what other students are studying.

“I really enjoy the sense of community at the GSE,” says Moraima. “It’s nice that students are always interacting and learning from each other.”  


To learn more about the Ph.D. programs at the GSE click here.