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PhD candidate Gabriela Gonzalez was appointed to chair the new top level National Science Foundation (NSF) STEM Education Advisory panel. Currently in the Human and Social Dimensions of Science and Technology doctoral program at SFIS, Gonzalez is also the deputy director of the Intel Foundation and Corporate Affairs.
The panel was created in October to encourage U.S. scientific and technological innovations in education, as authorized by the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act according to NSF’s announcement. It will look for opportunities to improve the effects of federal investment in STEM education in a new five-year strategic plan being developed by the Committee on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Education (CoSTEM).
An article about Gonzalez’ “improbable” rise to this impressive position was published in Science. Her term began in July and will extend for one year. The 18 member panel also includes Kimberly Scott, ASU professor of women and gender studies.
Professor Clark Miller led a one-day session in Pakistan for students and faculty ofthe National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST) and the University of Engineering and Technology (UET) Peshawar. The interactive session, held in July, was hosted by the U.S.-Pakistan Center for Advanced Studies in Energy (USPCASE) at Arizona State University. Topics focused on energy poverty and a framework was presented for approaching the challenge of providing clean energy in ways that significantly reduce poverty and enable progress. The USPCASE program is welcoming its fifth cohort of Pakistani students to the Tempe campus in the fall semester to engage in applied research relevant to Pakistan’s energy challenges.
Miller’s work with USPCASE on addressing poverty through energy access strategies is featured in this article about how interdisciplinary collaborations at ASU are affecting sustainable energy development in Pakistan.
Students traveling with SFIS professors to Nepal and Greece this summer gained invaluable insight into themselves and intercultural awareness during their experience applying concepts learned during class in real life circumstances.
Challenges in sustainable development were the focus of a Study Abroad trip to Greece led by Mary Jane Parmentier, a clinical associate professor researching the role of technology in global development. “Students looked at the complexity involved in social, economic, environmental, cultural and political contexts as they visited archeological sites and participated in community service projects,” said Parmentier.
Monique Hasbun, a senior in the Innovation in Society program, explained how she was able to apply techniques she had studied while in the field during her study abroad experience. “We used the concept of “future thinking” to analyze emerging trends in a society and possible futures a community might encounter in certain circumstances. For example, how the region of Mani might function with an influx of immigrants or how the community will react to sustainable tourism happening in their village.”
Students traveling to Nepal with the group led by Netra Chhetri and accompanied by Nalini Chhetri, both SFIS professors, learned how communities are integrating local resources with technology to solve challenges. They helped install solar panels for irrigation in two local farming communities and participated in a biochar project that processes invasive weeds in the area into charcoal. The group also conducted STEM learning activities with fifth through 10th grade students to gauge interest in energy and education innovations in community middle and high schools.
“We challenged our students to view issues that communities are facing through a lens of local culture and economic conditions. It was eye-opening for many as they came to understand not just the limitations villages struggle with, but also the incredible capacities and resilience these local communities bring to the table,” said Nalini Chhetri. “For the fourth time, the Nepal program has focused on students from interdisciplinary backgrounds including engineering and environmental science graduate students from Tribhuvan University (TU), Nepal’s oldest and largest university. This type of peer learning has been considered the highlight of the program by students of both universities.”
Justin Haley, a graduate student in the Global Technology and Development program, commented, "I have learned things that no textbook could ever teach me (like the value of empowerment as a transformative tool, and also how to use a squatty potty without falling into the abyss) and forged meaningful relationships with people whose humanity and compassion have offered a renewed faith in the future." Heather Otten, an undergraduate student on the trip said, “I am so grateful not only for this experiential learning opportunity but also for the passion and life it brought back to me.”
Science and engineering communications have been changing rapidly over the course of the past few years. The American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) organized a panel focusing on these developments at their conference for engineering communicators. One of the panelists and frontrunners of the movement for more inclusivity is Darlene Cavalier, SFIS professor and founder of the SciStarter website and Science Cheerleader. Cavalier’s work focuses on opening up the communication channels to the general public, particularly those who may not work in STEM fields but still have a passion for scientific research and discovery. “Scientists often need help with their research, and many curious or concerned people are looking for opportunities to engage in local and global issues,” Cavalier said. “I work on connecting people to projects in need of their help as well as helping people discover and access the tools and resources needed to fully engage in meaningful ways.”
Cavalier, along with the other experts on the panel discussed the past and future of science communications, challenges, trends, and shared their personal stories. “Darlene brings an amazing perspective, deeply understanding how important it is to bring STEM concepts to the public — and she has great examples of how to do it,” said Nathan Kahl, ASEE Communications Director, “I've seen her give many talks, and her presence is always welcomed. She's folksy, approachable, and knows exactly how to speak to her audience.”
You can read more about the panel in this blog post by Discover Magazine, which provides more insight on the discussions by the panelists and audience.