Athens, Ga. – University of Georgia education professor Mary M. Atwater is leading a new initiative that she believes will be another step in improving K-12 teaching and learning by advancing the scholarship of African-American science education scholars.
Atwater, a professor in the College of Education’s department of mathematics and science education, is the primary investigator for the project, which will culminate in a conference titled, The African Diaspora: Developing Black Scholars in Science Education for the 21st Century in the United States, to be held in Atlanta in summer 2009.
The primary goals of the conference will be to increase the number of African-American faculty publishing scholarly works in science education and to create a network of African-American science education faculty to research important issues in the area and submit future proposals. More than 30 people from at least 20 colleges and universities are expected to attend the conference, which is being funded by a $100,000 grant from the National Science Foundation.
Atwater is working with two co-principal investigators: former UGA faculty member Malcolm Butler, now an associate professor at the University of South Florida, and Eileen Parsons, an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina.
“I’m very excited about this opportunity to broaden the science education research agendas on black issues and to further study the development of science education black scholarship,” said Atwater.
Atwater, who joined the UGA faculty in 1987, was the first African-American female to earn a doctorate in science education at North Carolina State University in 1980. She was the first African-American female to serve as a department head at UGA when she headed the department of mathematics and science education in 2005. She received her M.A. in organic chemistry from the University of North Carolina and her B.S. chemistry magna cum laude from Methodist College in Fayetteville, N.C.
Atwater was named among 1999’s African-American Phenomenal Women by the African-American Professional Women of the Athens Area and was named to the National Technical Association’s Academy of Top Minority Women in Science and Engineering in 1998 and 1997.