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UHD Diversity in STEM Scholars Series Debuts Feb. 26


By Mike Emery

Dr. Terrell Morton

Although many Gators are away from campus, the University of Houston-Downtown’s community continues to come together for unique, virtual learning experiences.

The latest event to facilitate critical dialogue among faculty, staff and students is the upcoming Diversity in STEM Scholars Series, featuring scientists of color sharing their stories and addressing the challenges faced by STEM communities in Houston and across the nation.

This week, the series begins with a discussion from Dr. Terrell R. Morton, Assistant Professor of Identity and Justice in STEM Education at the University of Missouri-Columbia (UMC). Dr. Morton’s presentation begins at noon, Friday, Feb. 26. Attendees are encouraged to register in advance of this event.

A scholar-activist, Dr. Morton, works in UMC’s Learning, Teaching, and Curriculum Department of the College of Education. His research focuses on engagement and persistence among minority STEM students in postsecondary education. Recent research endeavors have explored how educators can inspire more Black female students to follow STEM career paths.

"Imagine walking into a lab or a classroom and seeing pictures of people on the walls that are nothing like you," Morton said. “People have a very narrow view of what science looks like, and right now, it's older white men wearing goggles and holding beakers. When a young woman of color sees those images in a learning environment, it can make her feel unwelcome because there is nothing in that image that represents her."

Morton is the first of four spring speakers in this series. Other participating scholars include, Dr. Danielle Twum (March 26), Dr. Jelani Zarif (April 13) and Dr. Joyce Gardner (April 30).

The Diversity in STEM Scholars Series is sponsored by the University’s ​SynergIE in Natural Sciences initiative (supported by a grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute).

“As part of our SynergIE program in developing, fostering, and expanding inclusive excellence in STEM, we are beginning a series of events where we invited young scholars to talk about their experiences as scientists of color or scientists whose identities are often invisible or marginalized by STEM education and the professional workforce,” said Dr. Akif Uzman, Dean of UHD’s College of Sciences & Technology.

Additional details on the Scholars Series, upcoming speakers and other initiatives can be found on the SynergIE website.


About the University of Houston-Downtown

The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD)—the second largest university in Houston—has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974.

As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive four-year university led by Interim President Dr. Antonio D. Tillis. Annually, UHD educates more than 15,000 students; boasts more than 51,000 alumni and offers 44 bachelor’s, nine master’s degree programs and 16 fully online programs within five colleges (Marilyn Davies College of Business; Humanities & Social Sciences; Public Service, Sciences & Technology; and University College).

UHD has the most affordable tuition among four-year universities in Houston and one of the lowest in Texas. The University is noted nationally as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, Minority-Serving Institution and Military Friendly School. For more on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit www.uhd.edu.