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Notre Dame to Host a National Panel on STEM Education

2016 Stem Panel Poster

The University of Notre Dame will host a panel discussion titled “STEM Education for the 21st Century” on Wednesday, April 13, 2016. Mary Galvin, Dean of the College of Science, will moderate this national panel which features Sylvester James Gates, Jr., Maria Klawe, Anne Petersen, and Abigail Wozniak. The event is hosted by Multicultural Student Programs and Services’ Building Bridges Lecture Series, the College of Engineering, the College of Science, and the Education, Schooling, and Society Program.

Sylvester James Gates, Jr. is the John S. Toll and Distinguished Professor of Physics at the University of Maryland where he also serves as Director of the University’s Center for String and Particle Theory. He has authored/coauthored more than 180 published papers and has been featured in several series hosted by PBS. He received his PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Gates has served as a consultant for the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, and the National Science Foundation. He is a member of President Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

Maria Klawe is the President of Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, California. She is the first woman to lead the College since its founding in 1955. Previously she served as Dean of Engineering and Professor of Computer Science at Princeton University. She received her PhD from the University of Alberta. Klawe is a renowned speaker about diversity in STEM and she is devoted to improving K-12 science and mathematics education.  In 2014 she received the 2014 Women of Vision ABIE Award and was ranked 17 on Fortune’s 2014 list of World’s Greatest Leaders.

Anne Petersen is a Research Professor at the University of Michigan’s Center of Human Growth and Development. She is also the Founder/President, of Global Philanthropy Alliance. She received her PhD from the University of Chicago and has authored 12 books and more than 300 published articles. Included among many of her previous appointments, Petersen has served as Deputy Director of the National Science Foundation, President of the American Psychology Association, Associate Director for the MacArthur Foundation Health Program, and co-founded the Society for Research on Adolescence.

Abigail Wozniak is an Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Notre Dame and serves as a Faculty Research Fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research, and Research Fellow at the Institute for the Study of Labor. She received her PhD from Harvard University and her work has been published in several economic journals and featured in many press outlets including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post, and Businessweek. Wozniak formerly served as senior economist for President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers.

Mary Galvin is the William K. Warren Foundation Dean of the College of Science at the University of Notre Dame.  Previously she served as Director for the Division of Materials Research at the National Science Foundation, and as a distinguished member of the technical staff at Bell Laboratory. Her PhD is from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Galvin has coauthored works in the areas of organic and inorganic materials. She is a fellow in the American Physical Society and serves on the board of the Materials Research Society, and the board of Chemical Science and Technology.

This event, which is free and open to the public, will begin at 7:30 pm in McKenna Hall Auditorium.


Moreno And Jones

As an incoming first-year student, Lucy Jones (near left) knew that she wanted to major in Spanish; what she did not know was that within the year she would embark on a summer trip to Peru in search of possible topics for her senior thesis. Jones is one of thirteen first-year students in Building Bridges who will spend the summer of 2015 outside the United States.The Building Bridges Mentoring Program matches underrepresented first-year students with faculty from the departments that the students wish to explore as possible majors. The foundation of the program is built upon the work of faculty mentors who play an integral role in the academic development of the students. As a result of these early interactions with faculty, many Bridges students find opportunities for research and internships within their first two years. Building Bridges is cosponsored by the Office of the Provost. The Buidling Bridges brochure in pdf format is available for download.

Her faculty mentor, associate professor of Spanish Marisel Moreno, served as a valuable guide for Jones. Moreno, who is a faculty fellow at both the Institute for Latino Studies and the Helen Kellogg Institute for International Studies, is one of many Notre Dame faculty members who makes an impact on the lives of students.

“My relationship with Profesora Moreno over the past year has played a very important role in my growth as both a student and a human being. From exchanging personal experiences to receiving academic guidance, I was able to form a relationship with one of the best faculty members at Notre Dame, a relationship that I am certain will continue over the next four years.”

Because of her passion for Spanish, Jones is considering the possibility of pursuing her graduate degree after her time at Notre Dame. She would have plenty of company if she decided to do so. Between 2011-2014 of the 388 Building Bridges alumni  22% pursued graduate degrees. 

There are many possibilities for Jones and she has plenty of time to make the most of her time at Notre Dame. “I can definitely say that without Building Bridges and Prof. Moreno, my first year under the Dome would not have been as amazing as it was.”


Fuerst And Lopez 3

There is an estimated 75% likelihood that a college student changes his or her major at least once before graduation (Gordon, 1995). Building Bridges believes that students in their first-year should have many opportunities to discern their major through conversations with faculty and peers. Reynaldo Lopez (far right) took that message to heart as he met often with his faculty mentor Timothy Fuerst, the William and Dorothy O’Neill Professor of Economics. “Dr. Fuerst has been a great influence this year,” says Lopez. “It’s very apparent that he loves what he does and his passion for economics has been one of the reasons for my decision to stay an international economics major.”

“Reynaldo is an excellent student and I really enjoyed having the chance to get to know him better during his first year under the Dome,” Fuerst adds. “I look forward to keeping in contact with him as he pursues his economics major.  And I would be delighted to have him in one of my classes.” 

Lopez is not alone in his decision as he is among the 82%  of the seventeen first-year Building Bridges students who decided to stay with their intended major in the College of Arts and Letters. This high rate is also evident throughout the rest of Lopez’s Building Bridges cohort of 112 first-year students, as 70% decided to stay with their intended major.

Gordon, V. N. (1995). The undecided college student: An academic and career advising challenge (2nd. ed.). Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas.


Madelynn Green Url Award 2

Senior political science major Madelynn Green (right) won first prize at the Undergraduate Library Research Award ceremony for her research skills. Green received the award for her senior thesis work titled, “From Decay to Cool: Street Art and Urban Renewal in Kreuzberg, Berlin and the East End of London.” Her research advisor was Ricardo Ramírez, associate professor of political science.

During her tenure at Notre Dame, Green received multiple research grants from the Nanovic Institute for European Studies, as well as a grant from the Kellogg Institute for International Studies and CUSE. As a sophomore, Green received an award to participate in the Public Policy and Leadership Conference (PPLC) at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

As a Bridges peer mentor, Green was a very influential figure to her first-year students, as four of the six started undergraduate research. “Building Bridges was a constant source of inspiration and a crucial academic resource during my time at Notre Dame. I loved being able to serve as a mentor for first years and I would encourage any student involved with Building Bridges to dive into the program. Do not be intimidated by your faculty [mentors], go see the phenomenal guest speakers, research a topic you are passionate about and apply to as many study abroad, internship, service and research grant opportunities as you can. You never know where you will find your calling.”

Green will join New York City’s Urban Fellows Program.


Naspa Award 1

The University of Notre Dame and the Building Bridges Mentoring Program received the 2015 NASPA (Student Affairs Professionals in Higher Education) Promising Practices Award at its annual conference in New Orleans. The award was presented by the Student Affairs Partnering with Academic Affairs Knowledge Community to recognize the Program for its collaborative work between Student Affairs and Academic Affairs. Arnel Bulaoro (center), who coordinates the Program, received the award on behalf of the University. 

Iris Outlaw, Director of MSPS, says that she is “appreciative of the faculty, who have served as mentors and helped to nurture the academic pipeline for future scholars. Their involvement was instrumental. I applaud the vision of Arnel to revamp the program resulting in the receipt of this prestigious award.” Each year approximately 100 faculty members volunteer their time to mentor the students in the Program.

“The Program benefits from being at a university that has one of the finest faculty in the nation, and a student body that is quite capable of excellent academic work,” says Bulaoro. “When faculty and students of that quality interact in academically-focused activities early on, the academic work of these students over a span of four years is very impressive.”

Building Bridges is only getting started.