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Awardees Presentations

Dr. Tom Ewing

Associate Dean of Graduate Studies and Research in the Department of History and member of the Data and Decisions Stakeholder Group, Virginia Tech
About the speaker

“Data in Social Context: Teaching Beyond Binary Categories”
This session will feature the work underway to provide undergraduate students across the university with skills to think critically and use data responsibly to formulate judgements beyond their personal inferences/preferences. Of interest is the model used to advance integrated learning that is led by the College of Liberal Arts and Humanities. The session will discuss the curriculum design, how it is being implemented and how professional development is being provided to faculty and graduate students to prepare them to teach in a transdisciplinary context.

This presentation draws on the experience of teaching a new course, Introduction to Data in Social Context, which challenges students to integrate interpretive methods for understanding quantitative evidence of human experiences, processes, and identities. The course is unique in the Virginia Tech Pathways curriculum because it fulfills general education requirements for Quantitative and Computational Thinking as well as Critical Thinking in the Humanities. The presenter has taught the course three times, and has also led workshops for Graduate Teaching Assistants, seven of whom have taught their own sections. More than 500 Virginia Tech students have taken this data course offered by humanities and social sciences departments, a unique example of transdisciplinary instruction in American higher education. The title of the presentation emphasizes the need to pursue integrated approaches that challenge simplistic, deterministic, and unequal binaries in teaching and learning.

Dr. Todd Schenk

Assistant Professor in the School of Public and International Affairs, and member and chair of the curriculum committee of the Policy Destination Area Stakeholder Group, Virginia Tech

About the speaker

“Bridging the Science-Policy Interface: Introducing the Science, Technology, and Engineering in Policy Program”
This session will introduce the new Science, Technology, and Engineering in Policy (STEP) program, which is a product of VT’s Policy Destination Area. The STEP program will introduce science, technology, engineering, mathematics and health (STEM-H) graduate students to public policy, work with them to explore and appreciate policy processes, and foster effective engagement skills. This session will discuss the STEP certificate, curriculum design, and how the program is being implemented.

In the spirit of ​Ut Prosim​, Virginia Tech students are driven to tackle pressing challenges at all scales. Most of these challenges are not merely technical in nature, but are embedded within complex socio-ecological systems. They demand solutions that draw on expertise from multiple disciplines and take the interests and knowledge of affected stakeholders into account. A frequently important dimension is how scientific and technical information can be integrated most effectively into policy-making processes.

This presentation will introduce the newly-created Science, Technology, and Engineering in Policy (STEP) program. This new program will build on the excellence and commitment to service of our science, technology, engineering, mathematics and health (STEM-H) graduate students, helping them to explore and appreciate policy processes and develop skills to engage effectively within them. The goal of the STEP program is to enhance the collaborative capacities of participants to work in multi-and interdisciplinary teams to achieve more effective, efficient and equitable policies and policy implementation outcomes. 

The STEP program is going through governance as a graduate certificate, but the ultimate goal is to create a comprehensive program with fellowships, and a vibrant network of students and faculty. The Policy Destination Area team also sees opportunities for expansion in the future, including to the National Capital Region both for degree and non-degree-seeking students.

Dr. Phyllis Newbill, Dr. Sue Magliaro, and Dr. Lisa McNair

Center for Educational Networks and Impacts (CENI), Virginia Tech

“Pathways for Students into STEM disciplines”
This session will discuss how a team of faculty are working with universities and K12 educators across the Commonwealth to create pathways for students into STEM disciplines through a statewide STEM network.

Literacy and workforce competency in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) is vital to our nation’s global leadership and advancement of our citizens’ quality of life. In 2019, Governor Northam launched the STEM Education Commission to develop a state STEM education strategic plan to advance STEM literacy and workforce development. In support of the Commission, five public universities (George Mason University, James Madison University, the University of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Virginia Tech) were jointly awarded a 4-VA grant to launch a needs assessment that would inform the development of a statewide STEM network and provide an infrastructure to advance the Commonwealth’s STEM plan for the future.  This session describes initial results of this Collaborative led by Virginia Tech, the outcomes of the needs assessment, and evidence-based recommendations for developing and sustaining a strategic multi-sector STEM network in Virginia.

Phyllis Newbill
Outreach and Engagement Coordinator, Center for Educational Networks and Impacts (CENI), Institute for Creativity, Arts, & Technology (ICAT), Virginia Tech

Phyllis Newbill works in the Center for Educational Networks and Impacts (CENI) at the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology (ICAT) at Virginia Tech. She is an enthusiastic educator experienced in informal science education for all ages. Her extensive experience includes college instruction, scouting, museums, camps, corporate training, and K-12 classrooms. She is the Principal Investigator of the 4-VA Grant "Developing a Blueprint for a Statewide STEM Network." At Virginia Tech, directs the Virginia Tech Science Festival and ICAT's Creativity & Innovation Day, serves as the liaison between Virginia Tech and the Science Museum of Western Virginia, and leads Hokies Like Us - an emerging outreach collaborative.  

Dr. Sue Magliaro
Professor Emerita, School of Education, Assistant Director, Center for Educational Networks and Impacts (CENI), Institute for Creativity, Arts, & Technology (ICAT) Virginia Tech

Sue Magliaro is Professor Emerita of the School of Education at Virginia Tech. A member of the Virginia Tech community since 1988, Magliaro has made significant contributions to educational psychology through her work in K-12 outreach and extensive service through the Virginia Department of Education. Her scholarship has yielded four books and more than 50 book chapters, peer-reviewed journal articles, and reports. She has also given more than 100 presentations at professional meetings. At Virginia Tech, Magliaro provided tremendous support to the VT-STEM and Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) projects. In addition, she served as chair of the Department of Teaching and Learning, director of the School of Education, and associate dean in her college. Magliaro has consulted and collaborated with numerous school systems on issues including instructional design, beginning teacher training and mentoring, and the alignment of curriculum, instruction, and assessment. In 2014, Magliaro, was appointed to Virginia's Standards of Learning Innovation Committee by Gov. Terry McAuliffe. Most recently, in September 2019, she was appointed to the administration of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam as member of the Virginia Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Education Commission.

Lisa McNair
Professor, Engineering Education, Director, Center for Educational Networks and Impacts (CENI), Institute for Creativity, Arts, & Technology (ICAT), Virginia Tech

Lisa McNair is a Professor of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech and Director of the Center for Educational Networks and Impacts (CENI) at the Institute for Creativity, Arts and Technology (ICAT). She develops integrative education projects that transverse perspectives within and beyond the university.  Her currently funded NSF projects include revolutionizing the VT ECE department, identifying practices in intentionally inclusive Maker spaces, and exploring professional identity development in Civil Engineering students with disabilities. Her work in CENI focuses on building networks between the University and multiple community sectors and supporting engagement in science, engineering, arts, and design. ORCID:

Dr. Joseph Simpson

Collegiate Assistant Professor of Management and member of the Integrated Security Stakeholder Group and Research Center, Virginia Tech
About the speaker

"Complex Crises: Simulation on Security Environments"
This session will highlight work underway in the Integrated Security Education and Research Center (ISERC) that is using real-life simulations of security related events to expose students to concepts of security and how to work in transdisciplinary teams to solve complex problems that arise in security related events.

Integrated Security issues are complex and require transdisciplinary perspectives and approaches. This presentation details the development and growth of a transdisciplinary course, Foundations of Contemporary Security Environments. A computer-based simulation that requires students to respond to an intense simulated disaster is used. This first course is required as part of the Pathway Minor in Integrated Security and represents a unique approach to transdisciplinary instruction. Students from majors including Political Science, Computational Modeling & Data Analytics, Psychology, Engineering, and Theatre are represented in sections.