published July 10, 2013

Welcoming New SENCER Centers for Innovation Co-Directors

Amanda Moodie, NCSCE


The National Center announces the appointment of five new SENCER Center for Innovation Co-Directors to support our regionalization efforts. The new co-directors include Drs. Lynn Lotas, Tara Mann, David Rutschman, Robert Seiser, and Winnie Yu.

These appointments arise as several co-directors move on to new paths in their careers and lives. Drs. Laura Behling, Marion Fass, Robert Holm, and Dennis Lehman have provided exemplary regional leadership over the past several years, and while no longer SCI Co-Directors, they will continue involvement and leadership in the SENCER community. Laura Behling, formerly SCI-Central Plains Co-Director, has accepted a new position as dean of the College and vice president for academic affairs at Knox College. Marion Fass and Dennis Lehman of SCI-Midwest have retired from Beloit College and Harold Washington College, respectively. Robert Holm, Co-Director of SCI-Central Plains, is now assistant director of education in Auburn University's Office of Sponsored Programs. Bob has begun leading SENCER efforts on Auburn's campus in collaboration with SCI-South.


The SCI-Midwest host campus will transition from Beloit College to Roosevelt University, an institution with strong SENCER involvement by many members of the faculty. David Rutschman of Northeastern Illinois University and Robert Seiser of Roosevelt University (and member of a team awarded the William E. Bennett Award for Extraordinary Contributions to Citizen Science) will take on the roles of Co-Directors. Bob and David are eager to begin their work together in the Midwest Region.


The SCI-New England welcomes two new co-directors to join Rob Sanford of the University of Southern Maine in supporting regional growth and support, Winnie Yu of Southern Connecticut State University and Tara Mann of Worcester Polytechnic Institute. The host institution for New England will move from Southern Connecticut State University to Worcester Polytechnic Institute, with the special sponsorship from SENCER co-founder, Karen Kashmanian Oates, now Dean of Arts and Sciences at WPI. The new New England team is already planning events for next year.


At SCI-Great Lakes, we welcome Marilyn Lotas (Lynn) to serve as a co-director with Joseph Koonce, professor emeritus of biology at Case Western Reserve University. Dr. Lotas will become a Co-Director of the SCI-Great Lakes in September 2013. She is associate professor in the School of Nursing at Case Western Reserve University and serves as the BSN Program Director. Her research interests include maternal child health, very low and low birth weight infant health issues, and development of biological rhythms in preterm infants. As BSN Program Director, Lynn has led a number of Community-Campus Partnerships and Service Learning initiatives in the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, and she will provide leadership in extending SCI-Great Lakes activities into undergraduate, professional school STEM curricula.


In addition to the five new Co-Directors, we have one Co-Director who is moving between regions. Former SCI-New England co-director Dr. DonnaJean Fredeen will transition to Co-Director of the SCI-Mid Atlantic with Dr. Monica Devanas and Dr. Terry McGuire of Rutgers University as she begins her new position as Provost for Rider University in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. We congratulate DonnaJean on her new position and look forward to Rider University's participation in SENCER.

Please continue reading for biographical sketches and photos of each of the five newly appointed SCI co-directors. For more information about all SENCER Centers for Innovation, please visit the website.

Lynn Lotas

Lynn Lotas is associate professor of nursing and associate dean for the undergraduate program at the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing at Case Western Reserve University. Her research focuses on the effect of environmental light patterns and levels on preterm infant development. She has developed an innovative model to teach BSN students the principles of public health nursing and increased competence in the delivery of culturally competent care to diverse populations from the local level to international locations. Lynn established a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner program at the University of Texas and chaired the group responsible for the establishment of the Ph.D. in Nursing program at Emory University. A Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Nurse Scholar from the University of Pennsylvania from 1988 to 1990, she earned a BSN in Nursing and an MEd in Psychology from Wayne State University and her MSN and Ph.D. in Nursing from the University of Michigan.

Tara Mann
Tara Mann is director of operations in the Office of the Dean of Arts & Sciences at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. She works on a range of projects including support of the Provost's Global Task Force and programs for pre-health professionals. Dr. Mann also supports faculty and graduate student development programs and is excited to launch a 'Preparing Future Faculty Program' on campus this fall that will introduce WPI graduate students to the ideals of SENCER. Prior to joining WPI, Tara was faculty in the department of molecular and cellular biology at Harvard University where she was responsible for course design and laboratory curriculum in undergraduate life sciences courses. Tara is also an instructor at the Harvard Extension School, for which she teaches courses such as medical microbiology and biochemistry. She received her PhD from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where she studied cytoskeletal elements of the protozoan parasite Toxoplasma.

David Rutschman

David Rutschman has been teaching mathematics at Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU) since 1989. He has been associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences since 2007. He and his colleagues at NEIU are very proud of the 'SENCERized' interdisciplinary Environmental Science major that they developed with the inspiration from many SENCER Summer Institutes. David is co-founder and co-director of the Dorothy Stang Popular Education Adult High School in Chicago. This program, under the auspices of two private high schools, is a bilingual high school completion program for adults based on the principles of Popular Education and staffed by volunteer teachers.

Robert Seiser

Robert Seiser is associate professor of biology and chemistry and assistant chair of the department of biological, chemical and physical sciences at Roosevelt University. His teaching responsibilities include courses in cell biology, biochemistry, history of science and introduction to scientific inquiry. In the laboratory, he and his research students study yeast physiology and cellular responses to environmental stress. Along with students and colleagues, he has also presented numerous talks and conference papers on STEM education research. Bob serves as program director for the NIH-sponsored Bridges to the Baccalaureate research training program, a partnership between Roosevelt University and Elgin Community College. He is a graduate of Lawrence University and Duke University, and has worked at Roosevelt since 2004. Bob has been involved in SENCER since 2005 and was named a Leadership Fellow in 2008. He and his colleagues at Roosevelt received the Bennett Award in 2012. As co-director of the SENCER Center for Innovation–Midwest, Bob is particularly interested in welcoming new institutions to the SENCER community. He is excited about the opportunity to make the regional center a hub for information and ideas on STEM education and civic engagement in the many educational, social and cultural settings served by SCI-Midwest.

Winnie Yu
Winnie Yu has been a full-time faculty member of the computer science department at Southern Connecticut State University since 1985. Her research interests include college student retention, STEM education, broadening female participation in computing, and in integrating social and psychological approaches to enhance learning. Winnie also served as department chairperson from 1998 to 2010. Among her accomplishments as chairperson were gaining the initial ABET accreditation of the computer science general undergraduate program and obtaining state approval of the M.S. in computer science graduate program. She was also the driving force in integrating a technological fluency component in the university's new Liberal Education Program. In her work, Winnie seeks opportunities to put learning theories into practice to create the context for significant learning in science and technology. Building relationship, developing esprit de corps among her peers, and fostering her students to learn and thrive are her most important commitments.