The STEM Center is excited to welcome STEM Fellow Henriette Burns to our team! Henriette joins us from Washington State University, where she is in the final phase of completing a PhD in Science/Math Education. Her novel research area focuses on infusing empathy in engineering design as a way to foster student sense of belonging and increase interest in engineering among underrepresented students. In recognition of the importance of this work, she was appointed a Sandra K. Abell Scholar by the National Association of Research in Science Teaching in 2017.
Henriette will bring the strong research skills she gained while completing her doctorate to her new position as the STEM Center’s research fellow for “Integrating Computational Thinking into A Minority Girls’ Program on Global Challenges,” an $850,000 project funded through the National Science Foundation’s STEM+C program. In “Exploring Global Challenges,” elementary girls in East St. Louis will develop their computational thinking abilities while studying the science of critical challenges, including maintaining world food security, sustaining energy supplies, and ensuring human health. As a former engineer with Hewlett-Packard, Henriette has first-hand knowledge of the engineering profession to share with the girls in the program, and serves as a role model for success in engineering. In addition to her research in support of diversity and inclusion, Henriette has shown a commitment to working with communities to build public-private partnerships to support STEM education. One example is an aeronautics education program that offered middle school students the opportunity to build drones. We look forward to the new ideas and energy Henriette will bring to the STEM education community in southwestern Illinois.