published June 6, 2012

Nine Elected to SENCER Leadership Fellows Program


The National Fellowship Board recently concluded the review of a strong group of applications for election to the SENCER Leadership Fellows Program. Nine faculty members and administers have been selected to join the Fellows, serving 18-month terms completing projects of their choosing to advance STEM education and teaching. Included here are summaries of each Fellow's intention for their work:


Erin Argyilan

Associate Professor of Geosciences, Indiana University Northwest

Erin became involved with SENCER through her role as cluster coordinator for the northwest Indiana and northeast Illinois region in the GLISTEN program. She has since adapted three courses (Global Environmental Change, Field Methods, Principles of Hydrogeology) to the SENCER model and integrated SENCER-based components in to an introductory course in Earth Science.

As a Fellow, Erin plans to promote SENCER on her campus by giving seminars through the Center for Innovation and Scholarship in Teaching and Learning and presenting on the courses that have resulted from combining the GLISTEN and SENCER models. She will also serve as a resource for the integration of SALG as an assessment tool for the university and give seminars at other institutions in the region that have expressed interest in her cluster's work including community colleges and 4-year institutions in Illinois and Northwest Indiana. She will work with other GLISTEN clusters to synthesize a list of key issues that students would be exposed to in GLISTEN-SENCER courses, and aims to increase development and adoption of GLISTEN-SENCER courses on campuses throughout the Great Lakes by presenting at scientific conferences. Erin will mentor fellow faculty members in implementing these approachs and will connect with future STEM teachers through IUN's teacher preparation program.


S. Monroe Duboise

Associate Professor, University of Southern Maine

Monroe has been involved with SENCER since 2003, when he and colleagues implemented a series of seminar courses on the human body for the USM Honors Program. Additional work has emphasized interactions with K-12 teachers and their students and has brought classroom molecular biology based studies of microbial and viral biodiversity into high school classrooms in rural Maine. Through NSF funding, an electron microscopy core facility has been established at USM for use both in research and in science education outreach projects for K-12 teachers and students. A NIH Science Education Partnership Award has allowed supported increased teacher professional development and science education outreach activities focusing on biodiversity, microbial and viral ecology,molecular biology, and ecological aspects of infectious diseases. Monroe and his colleagues have colleaborated with faculty from the University of Nairobi investigating microbial extremophiles and their viruses in soda lakes of the Great Rift Valley. Currently the genomics aspects of this research has led to applications in vaccine and nanomedicine development which we will incorporate into our educational programs at USM and in teacher professional development and classroom outreach.

During his fellowship, Monroe will promote existing elements such as Saturday morning courses and lab workshops for K-12 teachers, some of which are connected with courses such as the infectious disease epidemiology course taken by bioscience and public health graduate students. Monroe will address the transformation process in bioscience education at the University of Southern Maine by working with colleagues to develop at least one new SENCER course on campus, possibly with emphasis on involving pre-service teachers as well as other science students. A major professional focus for Monroe is the success of a vaccine development project that involves synthetic biology directed toward nanotechnology and nanomedicine applications. This research emphasis, combined with educational goals, has rich possibilities for engaging students and a team of colleagues in a new course built on SENCER principles that will go far in meeting the challenges put forth in the Vision and Change call to action.


Richard Dunning

Instructor, Normandale Community College

Richard has undertaken a sabbatical project to develop student activities around Mississippi River related issues as a way to help students better engage in the class and in key local environmental issues. Over the previous decade he has developed and taught Environmental Geology, a course that relates the science of geology in relation to key environmental issues. Over the past four years, Rick has been the PI for an S-STEM scholarship program, work that has connected him to students from a wider range of scientific disciplines and has helped him appreciate some of the concerns they are dealing with.

As a Fellow, Rick proposes a Scientific Communication and Engagement in Civic Discourse, a project that explores how science is described, used, and misused in public media and in civic conversation. He plans to develop ways to use these portrayals of science to help students think critically about science and better understand the dynamics of the scientific method and the nature of scientific communication. If, collectively, we are interested in the engagement of science in civic responsibility, then the ways that science is communicated to the public and communicated about in public represent an important part of that engagement. Rick's perspective is that we will have better scientists if we encourage science students to look closely at this public discourse about science and begin to think about their own work as scientists in the context of larger civic engagement.


Linda Fuselier

Associate Professor, Minnesota State University, Moorhead

Linda has been involved with SENCER for approximately four years, after first learning of SENCER through a colleague while working on a project that centered around collaboration and women in science. She and her colleague used work from SENCER, particularly the report on the program's effectiveness, to promote SENCER as a tool for increasing participation of underrepresented groups in STEM fields. Since then, she has attended a regional conference and organized a campus visit by Marion Field Fass to train faculty and administrators in the SENCER approach. Linda has incorporated the basic ideas of SENCER courses into her classes with the intention of eventually converting a non-majors biology course fully.

As a Fellow, Linda will continue to facilitate a learning group including faculty from economics, biology, philosophy, physics, and womens and gender studies in their grant-funded project to design SENCER-based course modules for biology and physics courses. The group is working on a SENCER course designed around Red River Valley floods and a SENCER-based module on ultrasound techniques for an introductory Physics course, both of which will be implemented in the next year. Linda will be involved in developing an environmental science course and curriculum next year for which she will be working with faculty from institutions that do not use SENCER and have no experience with SENCER pedagogy. She plans to use this opportunity to engage with and mentor other faculty and to develop a SENCER course.


Gary Halada

Associate Professor, Stony Brook University

Gary and his colleagues from the four engineering departments have established an annual Socially Responsible Engineering Design Award as a result of their SENCER involvement. The award is presented each year to a student team from each program whose capstone design project and report best consider the potential impacts of their project on the community and society in general. In particular, the award has focused student attention and creativity on addressing and providing solutions to pressing problems in socio-economically disadvantaged communities in the US as well as globally. Gary and his colleagues have also developed an annual one day symposium on the "Ethical, Legal and Societal Impact of Nanotechnology," an event that includes outside experts in areas from value sensitive design to bioethics.


As a Fellow, Gary will continue to advocate for the incorporation of values and ethics in undergraduate study and research in nanotechnology and other emerging technologies. He currently teaches a very popular ethics-related course (Learning from Engineering Disaster) to students from over 20 majors, as well as an enrichment course on how both reading and writing science fiction can help us understand the societal concerns which impact the development, use(or misuse) and regulation of emerging technologies such as nanotechnology and synthetic biology. Gary will further disseminate the educational models he has developed and their results in terms of how students can incorporate value-based decision making into their STEM learning. As co-P.I. on a project to evaluate electronic portfolios for enhancing engineering education and assessment, he plans to use the electronic portfolio model to continue building SENCER-related learning experiences into existing coursework. Also, as one of the leaders of a seven campus regional consortium focused on developing a new multi-institutional, multidisciplinary undergraduate program in energy education, the Leadership Fellow position will allow Gary to immediately incorporate and broaden the impact of SENCER-influenced coursework not only through his efforts in curriculum development and through recruitment of faculty throughout the region.


Robert Holm

Assistant Director, Sponsored Programs Education, Auburn University

Bob has been actively involved with SENCER since 2006. While at Butler University, he was a member of a team that received the Bennett award and was one of the founding co-directors of the SCI-Central Plains. He also taught SENCER-oriented courses in water quality and environmental biology and helped faculty design a number of SENCER-oriented courses. With his recent move to Auburn University, Bob plans to continue to lead SENCER initiatives by introducing the approach to his new colleagues, many of whom are interested in experiential learning. Exchanging ideas with other fellows will also allow him to bring the information gained from this cadre of experienced individuals to the Auburn campus.


Gerald Kobylski

Academy Professor, United States Military Academy

Jerry has become a leader in the SENCER community after coordinating team participation by the United States Military Academy (USMA) in the SENCER Summer Institute. For six years, he has directed a freshman calculus course at USMA that on average involves 1,000 students and 20 instructors per year. He is currently leading an interdisciplinary effort that which will include seven different courses in the fall of 2012 (and possibly an additional 10 in 2013), all of which will involve several thousand cadets. Jerry and his colleagues initiated a SALG based survey for nearly 14% of the entire student population to create a baseline. He has already presented on these efforts and the team's process at the Washington Symposium and Capitol Hill Poster Session and at a SCI-Midatlantic meeting in March 2012 at Monmouth University. In addition to leading the interdisciplinary effort, as a Fellow Jerry will continue to support regional efforts and consult with institutions or faculty interested in learning more about USMA's work in interdisciplinary collaboration.


Cynthia Maguire

Senior Lecturer, Texas Womans University

Cynthia (pictured) has been involved with SENCER since 2008, both individually and as a part of the Texas Woman's University (TWU) team. Her scholarship of teaching and learning research has focused on increasing success in a below-college-level science course. Cynthia has also made great strides in the development and piloting of a dual poster project at TWU to increase student understanding of the civic consequences of their work. This project requires students to create a public version of their research posters that so that an educated, but not expert in the field, is able to easily understand the implications of the research and work.


As a Fellow, Cynthia plans to organize at least one SCI-Southwest workshop annually on various topics of interest. She will also further develop the dual poster concept and attended an International Institute for SoTL Scholars and Mentors (IISSAM) workshop for that purpose in May. The dual poster pilot study results have indicated students who develop a public version of their technical poster are significantly more capable of understanding and communicating the importance of their work. Cynthia has been heavily involved in TWU's Science Society and Sustainability certificate program, teaching both the foundation and capstone courses. The program is designed to teach sustainability issues from many perspectives and culminates in a civic project to improve the sustainability of the local community. It is her intention to continue this work and build a strong interdisciplinary program within the College of Arts and Sciences.


Farahnaz Movahedzadeh

Assistant Professor, Harold Washington College

Farah has been an active participant in the SENCER community for several years, and has presented the results of her work through poster presentations and journal articles. As a Fellow, Farah will continue to promote SENCER principles in her classes, department, and the college at large through presentations and by encouraging SENCER curriculum and activities. She is planning not only to expand the existing projects that her students are currently working on, but also to start new ones including the use of Project-Based-Learning to promote SENCER principles and students engagement. Farah intends to collaborate with faculty from the biology department and other departments in this regards. She will also connect with other Chicago-based Fellows to collaborate with them in SENCER projects that will benefit regional activities and growth.


Farah plans to continue to develop and publish about strategies that promote student involvements in SENCER courses early in their academic careers (especially among women and minority students). She will continue in conducting scholarly research and publish the learning activities and teaching strategies that promote SENCER principles in and out-side the classrooms. She will continue to encourage her students to come up with creative ideas and alternative strategies and solutions for SENCER activities that help them not only to learn, but also to present and publish their work.