Exterior photo of the Founders North building. The creative work of SME faculty in STEM Education takes many forms including mathematics competitions and competition preparation, curriculum development, instructional design, research in teaching and learning, research in recruitment and retention for STEM majors and pre-service teachers, informal education resource development, leadership and design of NASA education and public outreach projects, grant-funded outreach programs, workshops at teacher conferences. Research and Creative Work in the Department of Science/Mathematics Education is tightly coupled to faculty outreach activities.

STEM Research

Active STEM PhD Faculty STEM Research Expertise

  • Dr. Titu Andreescu – Mathematics: Discrete Mathematics and Number Theory, in particular Diophantine Analysis
  • Dr. Vinita Hajeri – Molecular Biology: Genetics controls of the cell cycle in embryonic and cancer development of model organisms
  • Dr. Homer Montgomery – Geosciences: Paleoecology of the Upper Cretaceous in West Texas, Paleotempestology of the Texas coast and the island of Antigua.
  • Dr. Mary Urquhart – Planetary Science: Thermal processes in planetary surfaces including the Moon, icy Galilean satellites, and Mars, and Astrobiology (joint with Dr. Taylor.)
  • Dr. Stephanie Taylor – Biochemistry: Protein synthesis pathways in archaea, and Astrobiology (with Dr. Urquhart)

STEM Education Research and Creative Work

SME faculty members involved in STEM Education Research includes Master Teachers as well as T/TT faculty and Senior Lecturers.

Education of Gifted Mathematics Students and Mathematics Competitions:
Dr. Titu Andreescu is active in preparing secondary and university students for high-level mathematics competitions. He also created the “Math Rocks Gifted
and Talented elementary and middle school curriculum used by Plano ISD.

Science Curriculum and Educational Resource Development:
Several faculty members in SME have led and authored curriculum development projects. Large and small, these projects integrate with teaching and outreach activities of SME faculty.

“Change Over Time,” led by Senior Lecturer Barbara Curry, was a Texas Regional Collaborative grades K–8 Earth Science project that was deployed statewide through the TRC network. The “Change Over Time” project grew from the lesson plans developed by teachers in her Earth Science MAT course in 2007.

Dr. Mary Urquhart, developed her “Stars and Planets” middle school curriculum, and with NASA funding managed by the Space Telescope Science Institute in the form of an IDEAS grant, provided kits and field-tested the lessons with 10 8th grade teachers in 8 junior high schools in Richardson ISD. 

Portions of Stars and Planets remain in regular use in local schools, in the MAT program, the UTD Women in Physics Camps, and in the UTeach Dallas Knowing and Learning course. Since its completion in 2007, the curriculum has been distributed on CD and by Web download at state, national and local teacher conferences, statewide through the TRC.

Dr. Lynn Melton, now a SME Professor Emeritus, created a series of demonstrations to help middle school students understand the particulate nature of matter. He called the work “Chem Chapter Zero”. His demonstrations are still in use in the MAT program physical science sequence of courses and in the UTD Texas Regional Collaborative.

NASA Funded Space Science Education and Public Outreach (EPO)

Dr. Mary Urquhart has led several NASA Funded EPO projects at UTD. She serves as Education and Public Outreach Co-Lead for the NASA Coupled Ion Neutral Dynamics Investigation (CINDI). The CINDI Mission is no longer active and is in the final stage of completion.

 Launched in 2008, atmospheric re-entry occurred in November 2015. During the past decade, Dr. Urquhart led the formal curriculum Education Pubic Outreach component: designing, writing, testing, and presenting standards-based curricular activities. She presented numerous teacher workshops and short courses.

With her Co- Lead for CINDI EPO, Dr. Marc Hairston, she co-created a series of three space weather comic books (with a professional artist) as informal education resources and supplements to formal lessons. The first two comic books are available for free download in English and in Spanish. Paper copies of the comic books have been distributed at state, local, and national teacher conferences. The first CINDI comic book received over 50,000 downloads in its first year.

Dr. Urquhart and Dr. Hairston also created video resources for teachers and students and visualization of CINDI data using Google Earth. These resources can be found on the CINDI Mission page and are migrating to our new site found here: Space Science Resources

In addition to research by our STEM PhD faculty, our UTeach Dallas Master teachers are involved in various areas of STEM research and projects. These include development of new engineering and PBI courses and branches of the MAT program, the incorporation of 21st Century Skills into UTeach Dallas courses, and technology in the classroom, and working with English Language Learners.

Student Research

Research continues at the student level with both our Masters of Arts in Teaching Thesis option and the undergraduate Research Methods course in the UTeach Dallas program.