E&M spring newsletter, The Juncture, from Interim Chair Dr. Linda Simonsen

Spring 2021 newsletter, The Juncture

E&M Interim Chair and Professor Dr. Linda Simonsen with ash blond hair, purple chair on smiling at the camera. In from of a golden wall.As interim chair of the Division of Engineering & Mathematics (E&M), I am acutely aware that this past year brought unprecedented changes to UW Bothell and universities nationwide. I stand in awe of the enormous efforts of our faculty, staff, and students to quickly pivot to online learning, and make the most of our circumstances and continue our excellence in teaching and research.

This spring newsletter gives you a glimpse of just how productive the division has been, from award recognition and innovations in teaching and student advising tools to new staff hires and SPOT ambassadors. Our faculty spotlight is on Dr. Shima Abadi recognizing her ocean noise and animal bioacoustics research and mentoring, and our student experience showcases MSEE Student Ruohao Li who successfully defended their master’s thesis.

This past year also brought a wave of racist violence against Black communities and other marginalized groups that we cannot ignore, and with the recent guilty verdict of police officer Derek Chauvin we start to see justice being served. While there is much work to do to address historic and ongoing inequities, we in STEM have a role to play in how we contribute to a culture that supports diversity, equity and inclusion. For my part, I have been thinking a lot about how to lean into inclusion in our teaching and learning. How do we ensure that all students feel valued and that all voices are heard? I hope you will join me in reflecting on your own biases and privileges, and that you will approach your classroom with curiosity and empathy— “Who is struggling, what are the barriers to their learning, and what can I do about it?”.

I’m proud of our colleagues in STEM who are exploring new ways to broaden participation and build a culture of inclusion. To highlight a few items, the SPOT program builds a community of diverse learners by training students to give STEM research presentations to local communities serving diverse learners. Being part of a community helps students feel more connected to STEM and increases retention rates. The Technology Teaching Fellows program welcomes newly selected E&M faculty Nicole Hoover and Shima Abadi! Being selected as a fellow demonstrates their commitment to implementing evidence-based changes that will make engineering and mathematics courses more inclusive and accessible to all.

I’d also like to add that while the switch to remote teaching last spring was done in less than a week, the transition back to in-person work and teaching will take more time. While many of us look forward to in-person instruction, developing online courses has given all of us an opportunity to rethink how we can teach and interact with our students. As we approach the next academic year, make sure to stay up to date on UW Bothell Coronavirus Communications. I look forward to seeing the “new normal” in the Division of Engineering & Mathematics in the 2021-2022 academic year as we plan our return to campus!

Finally, as interim chair, I’m pleased to share that Dr. Tadesse Ghirmai has been announced as the newly appointed chair! As the Dean Dr. Leslie Cornick said in the appointment announcement, “Dr. Ghirmai’s commitment to our students, to an inclusive division, school, and campus culture, and to increasing the diversity of students and faculty in the division are all critical to our success.” Congratulations Tad!

View the spring 2021 newsletter, The Juncture