STEM Center announces new director

Kerry Cresawn

By Caleb Ayers

Dr. Kerry Cresawn will become the Director of James Madison University’s Center for STEM Education and Outreach beginning in July.

Cresawn, an assistant professor of Biology, spent the last eleven years at JMU teaching a variety of biology classes, some of which are designed to prepare future middle and high school educators to effectively teach cell and molecular biology concepts. She teaches students how to use their own misconceptions and struggles with the abstract to better understand the cognitive barriers their future students will face. “By instilling creativity in science, developing captivating stories and concept illustrations, my students will be able to communicate science to a diverse population,” said Cresawn.

In 2014, Cresawn founded “Madison Discovery,” a program that provides high-quality STEM experiences for students in grades 3 through 5. She developed enrichment lessons that align with multiple science and math standards of learning and are accessible to all children regardless of academic ability, language barriers, and exposure to science outside of school. With the help of JMU student volunteers, the program has reached over 4,000 students in 17 different schools with these engaging, “Hands-on and Minds-on” lessons.

“Teachers desperately want to be able to do more to pique interest and deepen their students learning,” said Cresawn. “My role in outreach is to support teachers and lower the barriers to providing experiences for their students.”

With her extensive knowledge of biological concepts and a proven dedication to improve STEM education, Cresawn will be able to help even more educators and students in her new role of Director for Center for STEM Education and Outreach.

Bob Kolvoord, Dean of JMU’s College of Integrated Science and Engineering noted that Cresawn’s experience in working with K-12 and college faculty makes her an ideal choice to lead this cross-cutting and collaborative effort. “Dr. Cresawn will help JMU build on its long-standing tradition of excellence in this area and bolster K-12 STEM education both locally and across Virginia.”

Cresawn earned her Bachelor’s in Biology from JMU and her Ph.D. in Genetics from the University of Florida. Additionally, she spent two years conducting post-doctoral research in cell biology at the University of Pittsburgh.

As the Center’s Director, Cresawn plans to evaluate the current STEM outreach programs currently in place and expand the center by engaging more students and faculty in STEM education outreach. Ultimately, she aims for the STEM Center to represent JMU as a nationally recognized model of engagement.

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Published: Thursday, May 10, 2018

Last Updated: Saturday, January 25, 2020

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