July 16, 2018
The National Science Foundation (NSF) has selected Robert D. Mathieu, the Albert E. Whitford Professor of Astronomy at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, as an inaugural member of the STEM Education Advisory Panel. Mathieu, director of the university’s Wisconsin Center for Education Research (WCER) and associate dean for research at its School of Education, begins his first term on the national panel immediately and could serve up to three years.
The NSF established the advisory panel to encourage U.S. science and technological innovations. Panel members will offer recommendations and compile assessments of how well federal investments made through the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act are supporting science, early stage technology research and development, and science, technology, engineering, math (STEM) education in the U.S.
“I am honored to serve the NSF as an advisor to ensure that funding mandated by Congress is advancing scientific and technical development and STEM education for all across the U.S.,” says Mathieu, who joined UW–Madison’s faculty in 1987. Mathieu earned his bachelor’s degree at Princeton, doctorate at the University of California-Berkeley and completed postdoctoral work at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
At UW–Madison, Mathieu works with his students to discover the universe’s youngest binary stars and describe how matter flows onto them. He also is a leading academic voice for transforming undergraduate teaching and learning within STEM disciplines, experience he will contribute as one of nine higher education representatives on the 18-member NSF panel. The committee also includes a high school science teacher, an elementary school science curriculum specialist, and representatives from nonprofits, businesses and education organizations.
“This new panel has an opportunity to bring fresh eyes and novel approaches,” NSF Director France Córdova said Wednesday, toward development of a new five-year strategic plan for federal STEM education spending that will support “new generations of discoverers” and help enhance the nation’s “entire STEM ecosystem” as it works to generate more benefits for society.
Leading the panel is Gabriela Gonzalez of Intel Corp., with David Evans, executive director of the National Science Teachers Association, as vice chair. Members will work to improve the efficiency, coordination and impact of STEM education spending by NSF, the U.S. Department of Education, NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Mathieu is the founder of WCER’s Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning, a network of 40 major graduate universities dedicated to better preparing their STEM graduate and post-doctoral students to teach diverse learners. Mathieu is co-leading a new initiative to develop future and current STEM college faculty members as inclusive teachers, mentors and advisors.
“We need our college STEM faculty to be among the best teachers in the world,” Mathieu says. “They need to know how to engage more students in the wonder of science and motivate them to pursue challenging subjects and careers that will benefit the U.S. and the world.”