NSF grant funds to RIT postdoctoral fellows in STEM education research

The National Science Foundation has awarded the Rochester Institute of Technology $1.2 million for a cohort of four postdoctoral fellows to implement a STEM-based education program (DBER). Professor Dina Newman from the Thomas H. Gosnell School of Life Sciences led a College of Science faculty team that received a three-year NSF Building a Faculty in STEM Education Research (BCSER) grant.

The postdoctoral researchers will work in RIT’s SCIENCE AND MATHEMATICS Education Research Collaborative (SMERC), a research lab center for advancing scholarship that transforms learning, which includes physics, biology, mathematics, chemistry, science communication and technical faculty. Each will work with two mentors, encouraging extreme research between traditional disciplines.

“This program is designed to help postdoctoral fellows acquire the knowledge and skills to conduct basic research in STEM education,” Newman said. “Jupiter’s interdisciplinary program will also help bring together researchers from different disciplines, breaking down traditional academic silos and thus better prepare partners for interdisciplinary STEM education research.”

SMERC was founded in 2010 by physics, biology, and chemistry faculty to develop research-based education that applies educational research methods and theories to traditional STEM learning environments. The faculty group formed the core of the Center for the Advancement of STEM Teaching, Learning and Assessment (CASTLE), holding journal clubs, research group meetings and hosting external seminars and conference speakers. The group has done many projects, including one of the first and largest NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates programs in DBER, established in 2014 and now in its third round of NSF funding.

Six RIT faculty members from the College of Sciences’ three schools will be collaborating as postdoctoral fellows: Newman and Kate Wright professor of the Thomas H. Gosnell School of Life Sciences; Professor Scott Franklin, Associate Professor Ben Zwickl, and Assistant Professor Yasemin Kalender from the School of Physics and Astronomy; and Assistant Professor Tony Wong from the School of Mathematical Sciences.

Newman said the group will begin to recruit postdoctoral fellows first and will have an open access to recruiting diverse entrepreneurs. Fellows will begin participating in another CASTLE BCSER program in the summer of 2023, Professional Development for Emergence Researchers (PEER). For more, go to the STEM Education Research Postdoc Program at the RIT website.

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