Panel on Education Programs

November 22, 2019, 11:00 AM - 12:15 PM


The Heldrich Hotel & Conference Center

10 Livingston Avenue

New Brunswick, NJ 08901

Click here for map.

Kristina Adams, Cottey College

Margaret (Midge) Cozzens, DIMACS

Sol Garfunkel, COMAP

Jim Kupetz, Pittston High School

Martin Loebl, Charles University

Lara Pudwell, Valparaiso University

Martene Stanberry, Tennessee State University

Education is a key facet of the NSF Science and Technology Center Program. STCs have developed novel educational programs for all educational levels and for students, teachers, faculty, administrators, and professionals wanting additional education. This panel will highlight the impacts of and issues in developing and implementing pioneering education programs. DIMACS educational programs such as REU, programs developing modules for high school classrooms, and Reconnect workshops for college faculty have been effective at integrating research and education and in engaging diverse participants but need rethinking as the fundamental tools and goals of education change. Reconnect workshops expose faculty teaching undergraduates to current research topics relevant to the classroom.  DIMACS’s long-running REU program immerses undergraduates in a multidisciplinary environment that exposes them to a broad range of computational and mathematical topics applied in contexts that range from bioinformatics to big data. Notable features include an international component coordinated with Charles University in Prague, which established the first NSF-supported international REU program. The REU partnership between DIMACS and Charles University has now endured for twenty years. As we look to address global challenges, we need to think about new ways to better equip students to collaborate across boundaries—both between disciplines and between nations.

For more than a decade, DIMACS has led efforts to develop novel materials that bring mathematical and computational methods and reasoning into high school classrooms. These materials take the form of short “modules” that can be flexibly adapted for use in a variety of courses at a variety of grade levels. The interdisciplinary nature of the modules offers students a contemporary view of science as a multidisciplinary enterprise. Modules in computational thinking are now forming the basis for a new DIMACS project developing and testing an online course for teacher professional development in computational thinking. What would be required to develop modules on socially responsible algorithms? On intelligent machines and their interaction with humans? On new domains for cybersecurity? On other topics yet to be determined?

This panel will discuss these and other topics, including the influence DIMACS has had on their lives and careers, on curricula in K-16, and on professional development. They will also provide examples of where DIMACS can undertake new novel educational programs.

Moderator: Margaret Cozzens is DIMACS Associate Director for Education. She served as Division Director of Elementary, Secondary, and Informal Education at the National Science Foundation for seven years (1991–1998) and has developed and organized many of the most unique and pioneering DIMACS programs.


Kristina Adams is Assistant Professor and Coordinator of Secondary Education at Cottey College. Before joining Cottey, Adams taught science in public schools for 18 years, provided professional development to teachers across the state of Oklahoma, and was the secondary education coordinator as well as a math and science professor at St. Gregory’s University.  Adams came to DIMACS in her role as a science teacher, testing materials integrating biology and mathematics developed in DIMACS-led projects with her students. She is now one of the site leaders for a DIMACS project providing on-line professional development to enable teachers to bring computational thinking into their classrooms.

Sol Garfunkel is Director of COMAP, the Consortium for Mathematics and Its Applications, an award-winning non-profit organization whose mission is to improve mathematics education for students of all ages. Among its many activities, COMAP holds the annual Mathematical Contest in Modeling (MCM), an international contest for high school students and college undergraduates. Garfunkel has worked with DIMACS on numerous projects developing materials in mathematical biology, computational thinking, and sustainability for high school classrooms.

James Kupetz is a science and mathematics teacher at Pittston High School in Pittston, PA. In his long association with DIMACS, Kupetz has participated in virtually every major DIMACS K-12 education program. He was a participant in early DIMACS programs such as the DIMACS Connect Institute and is an author of DIMACS modules for high school classrooms in bio-math, computational thinking, and sustainability. He is a frequent Reconnect participant and is currently one of the site leaders for the DIMACS project providing on-line professional development for teachers in computational thinking.

Martin Loebl is Professor of Applied Mathematics at Charles University in Prague. Loebl’s association with DIMACS began when he was a postdoc and has continued through the long-standing partnership between DIMACS and the DIMATIA Center at Charles University. The two centers have collaborated to run an international REU program for two decades. At present, Czech participation is part of the Combinatorial Structures and Processes (CoSP) project coordinated by Loebl and funded through the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.

Lara Pudwell is Associate Professor of Mathematics and Statistics at Valparaiso University. As a graduate student at Rutgers, Pudwell was graduate student coordinator for the DIMACS REU program for three years running. As a faculty member, she remains committed to undergraduate research, having directed her own REU program and coauthored the recent book, A Mathematician’s Practical Guide to Mentoring Undergraduate Research, to help others do the same.

Martene Stanberry is Associate Professor of Mathematical Sciences at Tennessee State University. As an applied mathematician, she is interested in developing new courses and undergraduate curricula related to applied mathematics and connecting mathematics with other areas of STEM. She received a DHS Scientific Leadership Award for Minority Serving Institutions to collaborate with CCICADA and later participated in several Reconnect workshops and DIMACS activities related to the Mathematics of Planet Earth.