Nilanjana Dasgupta, psychological and brain sciences and director of the College of Natural Sciences’ faculty equity and inclusion initiative, was invited this year by Frances Cordova, director of the National Science Foundation (NSF), to be part of an ongoing small group of thought leaders from across the nation to advise NSF on strategies to scale up diversity in the nation’s science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education system and workforce.
On Nov. 10, Dasgupta took part in a White House summit on “Next generation high schools,” hosted by the White House Domestic Policy Council and the Office of Science and Technology Policy. Also, on the previous days she gave an invited research talk for K-12 educators, social science researchers, education policymakers, White House staff, private funding agencies and venture capitalists at an NSF-supported forum on “Next Generation STEM Learning for All.”
This “scale-up” multi-year initiative, called Inclusion Across the Nation of Communities of Learners that have been Underrepresented for Diversity in Engineering and Science (INCLUDES), is a major new funding priority of Cordova’s, with a budget of $15 million for 2016. Dasgupta and colleagues in the invited small group will help identify types of research and activities that are best suited to achieve the goal of scaling up diversity in STEM education system and workforce across the nation. She served as a panelist and commentator summarizing the main take-away messages of the day and identify their fit with INCLUDES goals. See video link.
Dasgupta has also been invited to serve a three-year term until 2018 on the NSF advisory committee for its Social, Behavioral and Economic sciences (SBE) directorate. The committee’s charge is to review and advise on the impact of funding programs in the disciplines encompassed by the SBE, to oversee program management and performance and to advise on the impact of overall NSF-wide SBE policies on the scientific community.
Dasgupta says, “My role on this committee is to provide broad expertise in social psychology as well as specific expertise on the science of broadening participation of underrepresented groups in STEM, an important cross-directorate initiative at the NSF.” One of the assets she brings to the committee is her NSF-funded research enhancing the success of underrepresented students in STEM, and the successful dissemination of research findings beyond her discipline to K-12 and university educators, policy-makers, tech businesses and the broader public.
Dasgupta will return to Washington, D.C. on Dec. 14–15 for the next advisory committee meeting. She says, “NSF is deeply interested in ensuring that the research it funds has broad impact beyond academic science to influence national policy, to solve big societal problems, and increase scientific and economic innovation.”
She adds, “As I gear up for the winter meeting of the NSF SBE advisory committee, I am energized to be part of a group of behavioral scientists that helps steer the direction of a ship that has huge impact on social science research and resulting policy on a national scale.”