Building an inclusive community of students from all backgrounds who are thriving, reaching their personal and professional goals, so they can help solve our world’s greatest challenges.

I strongly affirm that to achieve excellence in learning, service and research at ISU, we need to create an inclusive community where the diverse strengths and perspectives of our students produce stronger solutions to complex problems. As expressed by Dr Marc Tessier-Lavigne, President of Stanford University, achieving inclusive excellence requires progress on three levels “Diversity is fact, inclusion is an essential practice, equity is a fundamental goal.”

Recent Work

Representational Diversity

Graduate programs at ISU have become more diverse in the past several years. During the Fall 16 semester, we had a record number of 335 under-represented (URM) graduate students enrolled, where URM includes graduate students who identify as African American, Hispanic, and Native American, or Pacific Islander. This is a 32% increase since Fall 2010

Inclusion: CIRTL AGEP NSF Project

A collaboration between nine research universities with the common aim of improving the climate in graduate programs and I serve as PI. The ISU interventions are workshops located in STEM graduate programs for faculty, postdocs, and peer graduate students. The goals for these workshops are to build from awareness of identities, to implicit bias, to knowledge of microagressions, to first steps to improve practice.


Our land grant mission demands that we work to reduce systemic problems that make it difficult for students with different social identities to thrive at ISU. I work with faculty and academic colleges to take an honest, critical look where we have structural, systemic racism and sexism at ISU. As an example, we are working to reduce bias at the admissions stage by providing broader information to admissions committees.

Graduate students and postdocs driving excellence in research

We are being intentional about developing graduate students’ and postdocs’ expertise, their ability to innovate, and their broader skills. As graduate students engage in complex, challenging problems and reflect on their experiences, they develop deep, structured knowledge that enable them to engage in more complex challenges. For many this is within faculty-mentored scholarship, but for others addition opportunities might be via extended assignments in courses, short projects within College of Business’ CyBiz lab, assisting graduate peers’ research from different majors, conducting a Teaching as Research (TAR) project, or working with Extension.

HHMI Undergraduate STEM Reform: Engage to Excel

We provide opportunities for all students to do science in their first few years of college. To experience the excitement of discovery, the joy of asking questions about how the universe works, and the satisfaction that they can use their scientific skills to help make a difference in this world. We have transformed all our large-enrollment introductory science labs to inquiry-labs, added extended research projects into freshmen to senior lab courses, and are providing interdisciplinary science projects for undecided freshmen students. We are impacting over 10,000 students each year.

Quark Gluon Plasma

I work in a large experiment (PHENIX) at RHIC where we collide two large nuclei together at close to the speed of light. This produces a small volume of quark-gluon plasma, a hot dense system where quarks and gluons are no longer confined. We have learned that the plasma is a dense, strongly-coupled, nearly ideal fluid. We however do not know the degrees-of-freedom of this surprising liquid-like plasma, i.e. how do quarks and gluons interact to drive the strong-coupling. The best experimental way forward is to vary the coupling by measuring the production of heavy-flavor (charm and beauty) which required a major upgrade of PHENIX’s capability: the VTX upgrade. We completed this $9M upgrade in 2010.

Get In Touch

I welcome partnerships on any of these projects. Please contact me if you would like to get involved!

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    Graduate College,
    1137 Pearson Hall.
    Iowa State University.
    Ames, IA 50011
    United States
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