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Series Overview

The STEM+IE Speaker Series offers students, faculty, and staff the opportunity to engage with diverse perspectives outside of the JMU community. Speakers are selected from other academic institutions and explore topics related to diversity, equity, inclusion, justice, anti-racism, and related areas.

Next Session

April 23, 2024

When/Where: 2:00-4:00 PM; EnGeo 1301 

Speaker: Dr. Estrella Johnson, Department of Mathematics, Virginia Tech

Topic: Inclusive Teaching & Pedagogy

Abstract: In Fall 2020 we collected 1,064 responses to a survey asking instructors of first-year math and science courses questions about their attitudes, beliefs, and views of diversity, inclusion, and equity. Here I’ll provide descriptive analyses on three aspects of the survey: items aimed at instructors’ views of certain factors that might contribute to disproportionate representation of different race-gender groups in STEM; items that asked participants about their views on strategies for addressing race-gender disparities in STEM; and items about respondent’s personal experiences with discriminatory behavior. As a way to reflect on how these beliefs and attitudes may be shaping our instruction, we will then dive into thinking about how Gutiérrez’s (2009) four dimensions of equity (access, achievement, identity, and power) and how those dimensions might manifest in undergraduate mathematics and science classrooms.

Bio: Dr. Estrella Johnson is an Associate Professor of Mathematics at Virginia Tech. Her research focuses on the pedagogical practices of mathematicians, with the goal of better understanding and supporting high-quality, ambitious teaching in undergraduate mathematics classrooms. Research projects range from investigating and supporting mathematicians as they work to implement inquiry-oriented instructional materials to large-scale national survey projects investigating instructional practice, and influences on practice, in undergraduate STEM education. Recently, her research and professional interests have incorporated issues of inclusion and diversity – both in the undergraduate mathematics classroom and in the sciences more broadly. She currently serves as the Assistant Dean for Inclusion and Diversity for the College of Science.

Previous Events

September 13, 2023

When/Where: 12:30-2:30; EnGeo 1207 

Speaker: Dr. Paul Guèye, Associate Professor, Department of Physics & Astronomy, Michigan State University/FRIB

Title: The (Hidden) Shades of Physics: Physics Impacts from (still) Unsung Heroes

Abstract: Scientific discoveries have historically been rooted in the desire for some to take on a quest to tackle the unknown, often with relentless commitments and efforts. Failures along the way become learning outcomes that eventually shape the directions of the processes leading to solutions. We learn early on that the two camps in science, theorists and experimentalists, not only work in teams but also interact with each other to discuss and brainstorm ideas and pathways to establish meaningful information for the scientific community and the public at large. This relationship/collaboration can only occur if both sides listen carefully, process, and understand the information shared, and then implement the appropriate actions. More recent experiences led to yet other pathways to not only broaden our impact in the science community but also society. My journey in becoming a physicist was mirrored after many similar statements while enduring yet unknown but interesting challenges within and outside the physics community. This talk will provide some personal perspectives in becoming a physicist while belonging to an untapped and hidden pool of talented individuals. 

Presentation Slides

(requires login with JMU credentials) 


April 4, 2023

Speaker: Dr. Sammy Matsaw, Jr.Research Scientist/Principle Investigator with the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes Fish and Wildlife Department

Title: Cultivating Alliances: Indigenous Knowledge, Methodologies, and Research in Natural Resource Sciences

Abstract: In the sciences so much is lost in communication, when communicating is the heart of the work scientists do as managers and researchers in natural resources. The nuance in language is not lost in nomenclature, taxonomy, and so on; however, in everyday speaking with people from different ideas, backgrounds, and ways of knowing there is a lack of understanding. Traditional/Indigenous Knowledge is still practiced today persisting over 500 generations informing a way of knowing to be a part of nature, the land and waterways aka science. Decolonizing and Indigenous Research Methodologies is the critical lens the scientific enterprise needs to interweave different ways of knowing that informs policy towards real climate change action. This presentation will touch on a starting point for ongoing self-work and labor to sustainably lift one's own awareness evolving towards social and environmental justice 

September 28, 2022

Speaker: Dr. Brandon Jones, Program Director for the education and diversity efforts in the National Science Foundation’s Geosciences Directorate

Title: Change in Science: The Method or the Enterprise 

Abstract: For decades the Earth and Space Science (ESS) community has lagged behind other STEM fields in creating a workforce that reflects the diversity of the United States.  As our scientific research community grapples with a myriad of changes in our Earth system, there must also be a reckoning about how to center the “humane” in the enterprise.  But how can we address societal issues more humanely when our workforce and scientific community is not reflective of society?  Our ESS community has a long history of investing in programs and strategies to bring students and scientists from marginalized groups into our classrooms and workspaces.  However, we have not put an equal effort into ensuring those places are where every individual can show up with their full selves.  To make progress on creating a workforce that is truly reflective of the greater population, a cultural transformation is needed.  This transformation requires not only a commitment from our community, but also sound grounding in social science literature on belonging, accessibility, justice, equity, diversity and inclusion. Afterall, scientific research does not conduct itself.

Session Recording

(requires login with JMU credentials) 

April 8, 2022

Session Title: On Becoming Better Mentors and Advocates in STEM

Speaker: Dr. Pamela Harris Associate Professor of Mathematics & Faculty Fellow of the Davis Center and the Office for Institutional Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Williams College

Abstract: In this talk, I discuss some of my past mentoring experiences and their effects on my self-confidence and my career progression. Based on these experiences I share concrete ideas on how to build better mentoring relationships. I also detail how becoming advocates for systemic and cultural changes in STEM fields provides another way to help create environments in which members of groups who have been historically underrepresented and underserved can thrive authentically in the STEM community. 

November 8, 2021

Session Title: From Change to Practice: Using Data to Drive Systemic Changes to Chemistry Curriculum

Speaker: Dr. Benny Chan, Chair/Professor, The College of New Jersey

Abstract: The changing demographics of the NJ student population towards more first generation and students of color was forecasted by decades of census data.  Change is hard.  Change is complex.  Coupling the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen a seismic shift in student preparation that requires a paradigm shift in our teaching. Luckily, The College of New Jersey’s School of Science was already engaged in doing systemic changes to our curriculum to make the courses more inclusive and student centered. The Chemistry Department has developed our vision and mission to be as inclusive as possible so that we can increase the numbers of successful and thriving students in our majors and chemical professionals.

April 16, 2021

Session Title: Equity and Advocating in STEM: There is still more to do

Speaker: Dr. Aris Winger, Assistant Professor, Georgia Gwinnett College 

Abstract: Dr. Aris Winger, Co-author of "Asked and Answered: Advocating for Students of Color in Mathematics will engage participants with a discussion about what equity, belonging, and advocating looks like in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.  This work can be challenging and easily ignored. The talk is an invitation to all of us to look to places that have too often been unseen. We need to go past our discomfort to allow for a possibility for all people in STEM to achieve a greater sense of achievement and validation than they ever have. 

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