As featured participants in a virtual roundtable sponsored by the CUNY Office of Academic Affairs, Guttman faculty Dr. Ji Kim and Dr. Ayisha Sookdeo discussed effective strategies for supporting students in the STEM disciplines with colleagues from Bronx Community College and Lehman. Titled “Promoting Student Success in STEM: Discussing a Multi-Dimensional Advisement Approach” and moderated by Dr. Theresa Williams, Director for STEM Initiatives for CUNY ASAP, the forum addressed proactive ways that faculty align practices and expectations; the role of academic advising; the collaboration between community and senior colleges to facilitate transfer and transition; while recognizing and overcoming barriers for students from underrepresented groups.
Drs. Kim and Sookdeo shared their approaches to engaging students in the context of remote instruction: through designing and conducting experiments using readily available materials in their “homemade laboratories,” to borrow Dr. Kim’s words. Dr. Sookdeo emphasized how this highly interactive and accessible practice proves that science is all around us and gets students excited about learning more. She has maintained especially consistent communication with students as they tackle distance learning and encouraged taking full advantage of academic support resources such as tutoring and advising. For Dr. Kim, commitment, study skills, and time management are the secrets to success in her courses, as opposed to prior knowledge or preconceived notions about intelligence. To prepare students for future STEM education and the professions, Dr. Kim stressed providing research experience and internship opportunities, guided career choices, and mentorship, particularly for those from underrepresented groups. She recommended an “alliance” on transfer advising between CUNY community and senior colleges, while Dr. Sookdeo urged curriculum alignment to ease the transition and further student achievement in STEM.
Dr. Kim, an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Guttman, earned her Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from Georgetown University in Washington, DC. She conducted her postdoctoral studies in breast cancer at the Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center in Washington, DC, and earned a fellowship from the Susan Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. Before starting at Guttman in 2017, Dr. Kim taught courses in all areas of chemistry at multiple colleges in the CUNY system, as well as William Paterson University and Ramapo College of New Jersey. Her research centers on developing ecofriendly chemical processes to reduce or eliminate toxic chemical waste.
Assistant Professor of Biology Dr. Ayisha Sookdeo received her Ph.D. in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology from the CUNY Graduate Center at Hunter College. Her research focused on surveying gene expression and morphological profiles of fission yeast mutants. Prior to joining Guttman in 2019, Dr. Sookdeo taught a wide range of undergraduate biology courses at several CUNY campuses, including John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York City College of Technology (City Tech), and Baruch College.