My program of research uses qualitative methodological approaches to study the experiences of graduate students, and the institutional policies and practices that influence students’ educational and workforce pathways. My current research projects fall in two strands: 1) understanding the science of team science, and 2) exploring the experiences of underrepresented graduate students of color in engineering. Taking these two strands of research together, I seek to provide new understandings of the complexity of science participation; the aim is to better understand the experiences that promote or turn students away from science pathways. The implications of this work have the capacity to improve student-to-faculty (as well as student-to-student) interactions, and inform recommendations for the (re)design of supportive learning environments.
This page will be regularly updated as new findings are discovered and published in academic journals and other venues.
Strand 1: Exploring the Experiences of Underrepresented Graduate Students of Color in Engineering
Purpose: This research examines how Black men experience and learn engineering, and develop perceptions of what it means to be an engineer (i.e., develop an engineering identity). It also pinpoints key mechanisms that improve their academic retention and success in engineering, particularly at the graduate level.
Findings across projects:
- The College of Engineering environment (including its practices and policies, and students’ research experiences) create an unhealthy and unsupportive environment
- Racial microaggressions from faculty advisors influence students’ persistence
- Racial microagressions from faculty advisors and peers (i.e., White and international Asians) make Black males feel unwelcomed
- Students retain each other to survive and thrive in the hostile engineering educational community
- Students’ support systems (i.e., family, religion and faith-based community, undergraduate mentors) influence their persistence
- Foreign-born and ethnically diverse Black men experience racialization, cultural (dis)integrity, and racialized imposter syndrome
- Traditional notions of merit in science and engineering have negative impacts on students’ persistence and academic sense of self
- National Science Foundation, Leveraging learning and engineering identity to broaden participation of Black males in colleges of engineering, $569,702
- National Academy of Education/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship, Exploring learning and theorizing engineering identity: The key to sustaining STEM participation for black men, $70,000
- National Science Foundation’s Iowa Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), Black male engineers in Iowa: Identifying barriers and improving practices to broaden participation in colleges of engineering, $18,184
- Rackham Graduate School, University of Michigan, Black male doctoral students in engineering, $1,005
Strand 2: Understanding the Science of Team Science
Purpose: Gain a deeper understanding of team-based research, including how collaborative research works, learning within research groups, and impacts of team-based research experiences on participants.
Findings across projects:
- Students developed research competencies as a result of participating in team-based research experiences
- Participation in research creates perceptions of a faculty prototype and promotes certain kinds of social comparisons with peers
- Students’ perceptions of alignment or misalignment between faculty work and personal values shape their (dis)identification with the academic profession
- Concerns about gaps in engineering knowledge and skills negatively affect students who are undecided about faculty career directions
- The design and execution of research practices, by the faculty advisor, in part shapes students’ understandings and intentions to pursue faculty careers
- Rackham Graduate School, University of Michigan, $9,300
- King-Chavez-Parks Preparing Future Faculty Fellowship, State of Michigan $33,328
- Rackham Graduate School, University of Michigan $3,000
- John W. Holmes Award, Rackham Graduate School, University of Michigan $6,000
- U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)-National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), Cropping Systems Coordinated Agricultural Project: Climate Change, Mitigation, and Adaptation in Corn-based Cropping Systems, $34,110
Strand 3: Engineering (and STEM) Education
Purpose: Explore the experiences of students across the P-20+ pathways to identify the mechanisms that promote and serve as barriers to STEM participation.
Findings across projects:
- Middle school students’ strengths and barriers to math achievement are predictors of future STEM participation
- National Science Foundation ($5 Million over 5 years), Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP): Iowa-Illinois-Nebraska LSAMP: A STEM Partnership for Innovation in Research and Education, $4,998,527
In addition to the projects described above, I am open to collaborative opportunities with scholars, administrators, and those in industry interested in the following topics:
- STEM workforce pathways
- P-20 STEM educational pathways
- Black male (graduate and undergraduate) academic experiences and achievement
- Educational experiences of underrepresented students of color (across race and gender)