Four Bradley Faculty Members Set Out to Enable More Diversity in the STEM Field

October 23, 2020

Four Bradley University faculty members were chosen for the National Science Foundation's (NSF) ASCEND project, a project aimed at enabling more diversity in the STEM field.

  • Dr. Melinda Faulkner, associate professor of biology (pictured right)
  • Dr. Jacqueline Henderson, associate professor of mechanical engineering (pictured left)
  • Dr. Sherri Morris, professor, co-director of the Center for STEM Education and chair of the Department of Biology (pictured center-left)
  • Dr. Kalyani Nair, associate professor of mechanical engineering (pictured center-right)

Faulkner, Henderson and Nair have each been assigned the role of Faculty Fellow, and Morris, as an administrator, has been assigned the role of Catalyst. They've also each been assigned to a specific "alliance" group (listed here). In their roles, they will join a peer mentoring network that involves nine project leaders, 60 faculty members and 15 administrators from colleges and universities across the nation. This network will receive a $1 million grant to complete its mission over the next four years.

To accomplish their mission of enabling more diversity in the STEM field, each project participant will start by evaluating existing practices at their respective institutions. Through regular NSF meetings, participants will collaborate and be well-equipped with knowledge about best practices. They will then strategically design and implement comprehensive change plans for their own institutions. These plans will aim to reduce institutional obstacles for the advancement of women in STEM fields, create more equitable communities and foster the advancement and retention of a diverse STEM faculty population.

Bradley Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Walter Zakahi said, "The Bradley community should be proud to have four members of its faculty chosen to serve on the NSF ASCEND team. Through their collaboration with other scientists from around the country, they will develop beneficial and groundbreaking networks of mentors and change plans for the STEM field. Our institution will benefit from the nation-wide work they are directly involved in."

Faulkner, Henderson, Morris and Nair began their work on this four-year project this month. Next on their agenda is a regional meeting in which they will discuss their various professional development and institutional development plans.

Morris shared, "There is support for these activities from the leadership team at Bradley, which will help us build momentum and make progress on our plans. We are excited about this opportunity and the work ahead of us."

The NSF ASCEND project is a part of the NSF ADVANCE program. Click here to learn more.