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Retha Meier, Ph.D., Inspires Passion for Science Education in Her Students

Retha Meier, Ph.D. has been teaching at Saint Louis University for over 25 years and her research is more relevant than ever. 

Meier is a professor in the Saint Louis University School of Education. Her research spans the fields of both education and biology. In education, Meier has published on science safety as well as project-based learning. In biology, her area of interest is pollination biology—especially regarding species that are endangered or imperiled. She investigates conservation questions and believes that it is vital to understand these plants and pollinators in order to prevent them from extinction.

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Meier conducting field research.

She emphasizes the necessity of bees for the process of floral reproduction and the importance of the cross-pollination relationships in the lives of both flowers and pollinators. Meier’s most recent research project was on Cypripedium kentuckiense, an imperiled native orchid growing in the eastern and southern United States. The plan for the research paper resulting from Meier’s work is to submit it for publication in 2020. She stresses that people should care about this research, and about pollination in general. “If a species is lost to extinction, it is gone forever. I value the species we have and think it is our job to protect them,” added Meier.

We are all part of the delicate balance within our ecosystem. I believe it is our responsibility to protect biological diversity and serve as environmental stewards."

Retha Meier, Ph.D. 


Meier earned a Bachelor of Science in biology and zoology with a minor in chemistry from Southeast Missouri State University, a master’s degree in biology from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville (SIUE), and a Ph.D. in biology with an emphasis in plant biochemistry from Saint Louis University.

During her first career as a forensic scientist, she realized that to improve our society, we needed to improve our education process. Meier explained that she thought if she became a teacher that she could “serve as a role model and make a difference in the world.” Thus, she pursued a teaching certificate in middle/secondary education from SIUE and became a biology and chemistry teacher.

Meier went on to earn a principal certificate from SIUE. After earning her Ph.D. in biology, she was invited to work in SLU’s School of Education.

"Dr. Meier's mentoring has encouraged me to follow my passion in science education by teaching me the skills to succeed and exemplifying the work ethic necessary to thrive in an evolving academic environment," said Stephanie Hendel, a doctoral student in the School of Education. "She challenges me to discover new methods of inspiring others to love science!" 

Some highlights of her areas of teaching and practice include biology, ecology, forensic biology, chemistry, health for education majors, anatomy and physiology, quantitative and qualitative methods in research, methods of teaching elementary, middle, and secondary school science, curriculum and instruction for elementary education, curriculum theory for graduate students, and the supervisory process for graduate students. She says she serves as a role model in her current position by “helping students in the SOE love science and spread this passion in their classrooms.”