As of February, 2024, I serve as Associate Dean for Research in the College of Education at the University of Texas at Arlington. I am responsible for providing leadership and vision for research activities within the College of Education, fostering a thriving research culture, and elevating the college’s research profile. As ADR, I:
- Develop and implement a strategic vision for research in the college, aligned with the university’s overall research goals.
- Lead and support faculty in their research endeavors, including proposal development, grant writing, and securing funding.
- Oversee and manage the college’s research infrastructure, including budgets, resources, and compliance with research regulations.
- Foster collaboration among faculty, students, and external partners to promote interdisciplinary and impactful research.
- Represent the college in university-wide research initiatives and committees.
- Advocate for the importance of research in education and communicate research findings to diverse audiences.
Prior to this, I served as Chair of the Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction for 2 1/2 years. I continue to lead up the STEM Education Research Collaboratorium and Resource Center. Housed within the UTA College of Education, the STEM Education Research Collaboratorium and Resource Center, also known as STEM-E(RC)2, is designed to help education researchers address questions about the nature and outcomes of education programs for the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics – while also assisting teachers, universities, school districts, and other education stakeholders in refining educational programming in ways that will enhance student learning and engagement. The STEM Collab serves as a hub of innovation for STEM education research, helping synergize STEM education research, nucleate collaboration and partnerships, and better position UTA faculty to pursue and secure extramural funding for STEM education projects targeting diverse audiences in postsecondary, K-12, and informal/nonformal learning environments, particularly those that align with UTA’s strategic plan.
Before moving to UTA in the summer of 2021, I led efforts as Director of the National Collaborative for Research on Food, Energy, & Water Education (NC-FEW) to cultivate a national network of educators and education researchers focused on education grounded in the Food-Energy-Water-Nexus (FEW-Nexus). The potential of the FEW-Nexus was codified in the U.S. through NSF and USDA-NIFA’s collaborative Innovations at the Nexus of Food, Energy, & Water (INFEWS) initiative, which has led to a series of science-focused workshops and funded research projects. However, the education component of these efforts has been underemphasized and underrepresented, despite compelling evidence for the very real and pressing global challenges in the FEW-Nexus, the need to foster science literacy in America’s citizenry, and necessity of meeting ever-evolving needs of the STEM workforce. These challenges provide a rationale for sustained, systemic, and interdisciplinary education efforts focused on food, energy, and water issues in a wide array of contexts, including formal, informal, and non-formal postsecondary and K-12 contexts. Capitalizing fully on this significant opportunity requires transdisciplinary collaborations that can be greatly facilitated by cultivating a community around FEW education and education research. To address this need, we cultivated a national network of scholars committed to educational research grounded in the FEW-Nexus. Two Multistate Research Committees (NCDC231 and NC1207) have served as a nucleus for these efforts. In May, 2018, we held a national invited conference in Washington, D.C., involving over 50 participants representing an array of institutions and disciplines. With funding from NSF, these efforts have continued.
NC-FEW reflects and leverages institutional commitments at UNL. From 2014-2021, I served as Coordinator of the Institute for Agriculture and Natural Resources‘ (IANR) Science Literacy Initiative, providing leadership across IANR for the development of innovative research, extension, and teaching programs that help foster science literacy in formal school settings (PK-12), higher education contexts, both informal and non-formal learning environments, and among the public. At UNL, we defined science literacy as an enhanced capacity, both at the individual and collective levels, to make effective decisions grounded in STEM-informed analyses of complex, real-world challenges associated with food, energy, and water systems. The Science Literacy Initiative was grounded in four underlying principles:
- Feeding 9 billion people
- An emphasis on natural and managed systems
- Linked with standards for STEM teaching and learning
The Science Literacy Initiative involves the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Extension, and College of Education and Human Sciences and is grounded in partnerships with formal, informal, and non-formal educators, institutions of higher education, commodity groups, civic organizations, and a host of other stakeholders.
At the University of Iowa, I served as the science education representative to the Elementary Education program committee and Coordinator for elementary science. I was integrally involved in the redesign of the new elementary teacher education program, which was rolled out in the spring of 2013. I led the development of three new innovative courses for prospective elementary teachers – one each in life, earth, and physical sciences – that integrated disciplinary content and pedagogy.