Guttman Leadership and Faculty Awarded NSF HSI Program Grant to Improve STEM Outcomes



March 24, 2020 | Academics, Faculty, Grants, Liberal Arts and Sciences, Research, STEM

Niesha Ziehmke
Associate Dean of Academic Programs and Planning Dr. Niesha Ziehmke

Karla Smith Fuller
Associate Professor of Biology Karla Fuller

Dr. Dalvin Hill
Assistant Professor of Information Technology Dalvin Hill

Associate Dean of Academic Programs and Planning Niesha Ziehmke, Associate Professor of Biology Karla Fuller, and Assistant Professor of Information Technology Dalvin Hill have been awarded the National Science Foundation Improving Undergraduate STEM Education: Hispanic Serving Institutions (HIS Program) grant for their project, “Testing the Impact of Culturally Responsive Pedagogy and Streamline Transfer Support on STEM Success for Underrepresented Students.”

The project aims to improve degree completion rates among underrepresented groups of undergraduate STEM students. Drs Ziehmke, Fuller, and Hill posit that the impact of Culturally Responsive Pedagogy (CRP) combined with the removal of structural barriers to transfer will help underserved students persist in STEM during the community college to baccalaureate education transition. The team will build on current literature and evidence of CRP and transfer support’s advantages.

The research supported by NSF and conducted at Guttman, a Hispanic Serving Institution, over the next three years will “test and implement an inclusive, equity-driven model of community college STEM success to serve as an exemplar in higher education,” as stated in the project abstract. Ensuring higher degree completion rates among underserved STEM students will ultimately help diversify the STEM workforce, offering innovative solutions to today’s global issues.

In her current role as Guttman’s Associate Dean of Academic Programs and Planning, Dr. Ziehmke is leading efforts to build guided pathways in the majors by elevating the connections of the academic curriculum to transfer and career preparation. Dr. Ziehmke earned her Master of Education from the New School and taught Spanish in a New York City public high school for six years. She then completed her Ph.D. in linguistics at the CUNY Graduate Center, with a focus on methods for teaching academic English to students who speak non-academic varieties of English. While working on her doctorate, she administered an educational psychology research program in Self-Regulated Learning (SRL). From 2009 to 2013, Dr. Ziehmke served as Director of First College Year Programs at Brooklyn College before taking on a position in Academic Affairs at LaGuardia Community College, where she took on the challenge of improving student success and assessment across the institution.

Dr. Karla Fuller received her Ph.D. in cell and molecular biology (cancer genetics) from Purdue University. After a post-doctoral appointment at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center Science Park Research Center, she made a slight change in career to focus on mentoring and teaching undergraduate students at the community college level. Dr. Fuller teaches a variety of biology classes at Guttman Community College and also serves as Coordinator of the Liberal Arts and Sciences – Science Concentration. In addition to teaching, Dr. Fuller mentors student research projects ranging from antibiotic resistance to virtual reality for science education. Dr. Fuller’s research interests include best practices to increase learning and success for undergraduate science students, particularly from underserved populations. Dr. Fuller was awarded the National Association of Biology Teachers Two-Year College Teacher of the Year for 2016 and Education Update 2017 Outstanding Teacher of the Year.

Dr. Hill completed his doctoral degree in Computer Science at the University of Tulsa in 2014; he has also obtained a master’s degree in Computer Science from the University of Tulsa in 2009, a master’s degree in Internet Business Systems from Mercy College in 2006, a bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems from Monroe College in 2003, and an associate degree in Computer Science from Northern Caribbean University (located in Mandeville, Jamaica) in 2002. During his collegiate experience, he has conducted various research projects, several of which have been recognized as top-tier by his colleagues.

Stella and Charles Guttman Community College is CUNY’s first new community college since 1971. Planning began in 2008; Scott Evenbeck, the founding president, was appointed in January 2011, and the College opened its doors to an inaugural class of 289 students on August 20, 2012.  Guttman offers associate degree programs in an innovative model emphasizing experiential education, learning communities and instructional teams, and a commitment to providing rigorous academic challenge, attentive support, and inclusive excellence.  Guttman is a Hispanic-Serving Institution, with a current enrollment of 1,030 students (as of Fall 2019).  Guttman was ranked as the best community college in America for 2020 by