A new feature I would like to introduce to the MSEED blog is a series of interviews called Meet MSEED. Each interview will feature an MSEED faculty or student. The first person being introduced is Dr. Gary Morris, the director of the MSEED program as well as the associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
Dr. Morris was one of the original founders of the MSEED program. He dated the birth of the program back to about four years ago, when he spoke to Professor Westrick, a professor in the education department, about “ideas for ways to better collaborate between the education and the sciences and mathematics department” since there was not a lot of communication between the departments. Additionally, Dr. Morris stated that there was a national need for “people who are trained in math and science as society becomes more technology oriented.” Thus, the primary goal of the program evolved into graduating “high quality, motivated, inspirational math and science teachers who can go out into the community and be those figures of inspiration for today’s middle and high school students.”
As head of the program, Dr. Morris has some crucial jobs to help keep MSEED running. “I’m the principle investigator on the grant,” Morris said. “I was one of the three individuals involved in constructing the details of the grant. I write all the reports to NSF (National Science Foundation), file all the paperwork, and organize weekly leadership meetings with the grant team.”
When asked about his favorite part of the program, Dr. Morris replied by discussing the quality, dedication, and energy of the MSEED scholars. “We couldn’t be happier with the group of students that have joined us in the past two years. It’s been great forming a student organization, raising the profile of math and science education, helping tutoring programs in the community, and helping fellow students on campus,” he said. He also described his experience of working with a current sophomore on research last summer. Dr. Morris praised the student’s progress and growth by saying that “the summer started and he had no background in programming, but within two months he created a really wonderful project.”
As a closing remark, Dr. Morris described his hope for the future of the program. “I hope that we get to our target of the seventy-five students in five years and that these students, when they graduate, go into schools, particularly in high need districts, and motivate their students to pursue math and science degrees and potentially careers. I hope this program continues beyond the end of the grant, that the community and the university see the value of the program in attracting students and improving the performance of even students who aren’t part of the program in their STEM because I think the MSEED scholars really influence the larger STEM community on campus.”
Thanks for working hard to make MSEED a great program, Dr. Morris!