Hear from leaders in the faculty and administrative space about how we can infuse diversity, equity, and inclusion practices systemically in our departments and institutions at large to create lasting change that allows for educators from all backgrounds to thrive in STEM education.
Beronda L. Montgomery, Ph.D.
MSU Foundation Professor
Michigan State University
Beronda L. Montgomery, PhD (she/her) is MSU Foundation Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and Microbiology & Molecular Genetics at Michigan State University. She is also a member of the Department of Energy Plant Research Laboratory. Dr. Montgomery will soon move to Grinnell College to serve as Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean. Montgomery conducts research on the means by which plants and cyanobacteria are able to monitor and adjust to changes in their external environments. The ability of these largely immobile organisms to adapt to dynamic environments increases their survival and maximizes productivity. She also conducts scholarship and training initiatives on effective research mentoring, research management, and academic leadership, including issues related to mentoring diverse scholars, as well as faculty development. Dr. Montgomery received an NSF CAREER Award and was an American Society for Microbiology Distinguished Lecturer. She has been elected as a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology in 2018, the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2020, the American Society of Plant Biologists in 2021, and the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Montgomery served as assistant provost for faculty development from 2016-2020 at MSU with responsibility for supporting all faculty and academic staff in the areas of research, scholarship, and creative activities. She currently serves as associate vice president for strategic initiatives and operations in the office of research & innovation at MSU. She is author of the book Lessons from Plants (Harvard University Press, 2021) and was recently awarded the Adolph E. Gude, Jr. Award from the American Society of Plant Biologists for outstanding service to the science of plant biology.
Kimberly Mulligan, Ph.D.
Assistant Dean for Inclusion, Equity, and Diversity
Kimberly Mulligan earned her B.S. and M.S. in Chemistry from Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University and Ph.D. in Molecular Physiology and Biophysics from Vanderbilt University. Her dissertation research examined the mechanism by which insulin-stimulated skeletal muscle glucose uptake is impaired in the presence of inflammation. Upon completion of her degree, she worked for the Vanderbilt University Center for Science Outreach. In this position she was able to merge her love of science and desire to enhance STEM education through the creation of elective scientific curriculum and professional development opportunities which fostered interdisciplinary learning in the US and abroad. In her current role as the Assistant Dean of Inclusion, Equity, and Diversity for the Auburn University College of Sciences and Mathematics, she works to develop and implement initiatives which create an inclusive environment for a diverse student body, faculty, and staff. Dr. Mulligan recognizes the opportunities that have been afforded her through the vested interest others have taken in seeing her develop as a scholar. Therefore, she utilizes her position to explore new avenues to do the same for others by promoting inclusion in higher education to help shape a STEM workforce that reflects our diverse population and ensure many voices and perspectives are represented in scientific fields.
Olga Pierrakos, Ph.D.
Founding Chair and Professor, Department of Engineering
Wake Forest University
Dr. Olga Pierrakos points to innovation and inclusion as the cornerstones for achieving transformation and excellence. As Founding Chair and Professor of the Wake Forest University (WFU in Winston Salem, NC) Department of Engineering, she is committed to Educating the Whole Engineer and building a team and program that embraces the uniqueness of the institution, Liberal Arts Education at a Research University, where tradition and innovation come together. An inclusive culture and innovative curriculum has led to a diverse student body of 40% female engineering students and 20% minority engineering students, as well as a diverse faculty body with 60% female faculty. A second time for Pierrakos to serve as founding faculty, the first time at James Madison University (Harrisonburg, VA), she brings immense expertise to engineering education. Prior to coming to WFU, Pierrakos served as Program Director at the National Science Foundation in the Division of Undergraduate Education in the Directorate of Education and Human Resources. Dr. Pierrakos is an innovative teacher-scholar who engages her students as active participants in the classroom and in diverse scholarly areas. Her areas of expertise include engineering education (i.e. recruitment and retention, design thinking, pedagogy, student motivation, engineering identity, complex problem solving, assessment), biomedical engineering (i.e. cardiovascular fluid mechanics, prosthetic heart valve performance), and sustainable energy systems (i.e. drag reducing devices, micro wind turbines). Dr. Pierrakos has BS and MS degrees in Engineering Science and Mechanics from Virginia Tech, and a PhD in Biomedical Engineering from the joint program between Virginia Tech and Wake Forest University. She has mentored over 200 students on research and design projects, served as investigator to external funding totaling over $4 million, and published over 140 peer-reviewed publications. She and her husband have four amazing children.