ATLANTA—Georgia State University has been awarded a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to launch a new initiative as part of its efforts to increase the recruitment, retention, engagement and support of women faculty in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, especially for women from underrepresented minority backgrounds.
Partnering with Florida International University (FIU), the new Georgia State initiative, ADVANCE-IMPACT (Intersectionality and Mentoring in the Professoriate for Advancement, Community and Transformation) is supported through NSF’s ADVANCE program to increase the representation and advancement of women in STEM careers and university leadership.
“As one of the most diverse universities in the country, Georgia State is working to support a faculty that reflects our institution’s wide diversity,” said Nicolle Parsons-Pollard, Interim Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs. “Through the generous support of the National Science Foundation, ADVANCE-IMPACT signifies our commitment to this transformational goal.”
“I’m delighted to have the opportunity to help champion Georgia State’s efforts to implement organizational changes aimed at mitigating many of the challenges faced by women in science today,” said Marise Parent, principal investigator (PI) on the NSF grant and Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology at Georgia State. “ADVANCE-IMPACT will promote policies and practices that will allow current faculty and the next generation of women scholars to make important contributions to our academic and research missions in an environment that makes them feel welcomed and valued.”
Among its activities, ADVANCE-IMPACT will adapt and implement the Strategies and Tactics for Recruiting to Improve Diversity and Excellence (STRIDE) approach in collaboration with FIU. STRIDE is an empirically demonstrated approach to increase faculty diversity at many institutions through activities that institutionalize successful strategies, shown to improve diversity and excellence.
Other aims of ADVANCE-IMPACT include:
- Leadership training to help counter factors that detract from a fair, equitable and welcoming workplace;
- Offering a faculty mentoring program at all career levels promoting inclusivity, development, advancement and participation in leadership;
- Assisting in the review of policies that promote best practices in diversity, equity and inclusion at an institutional level.
In the larger picture at the university, ADVANCE-IMPACT represents a major effort alongside others at the institution that support and increase diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging in faculty recruitment, retention, and engagement. This includes efforts through the Next Generation of Faculty initiative, the action plan on the recommendations of the university’s Task Force for Racial Equality, and actions through the Collaborative on Careers in Higher Education (COACHE) faculty satisfaction process.
“At Georgia State, we have taken great care to ensure that we are not only evaluating what we need to change, but that we are also taking concrete steps to fulfill our promises,” said Corrie Fountain, Interim Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs, a co-PI on the grant who will lead in the administration of the new NSF-supported initiative. “Through the use of proven strategies, ADVANCE-IMPACT will significantly boost our ability to reach our broad, ambitious goals of becoming a university for all.”
In addition to the diversification of the professoriate, ADVANCE-IMPACT will provide an important contribution to Georgia State’s greater spirit of encouraging student success and achievement, regardless of background.
“When students from underrepresented backgrounds see themselves in STEM fields and in leadership positions, it is a spark that can inspire the next generation of diverse leaders and innovators,” Parsons-Pollard said. “Through this grant to launch ADVANCE-IMPACT, Georgia State’s contributions to support women in STEM will be felt for years to come.”
For more information about ADVANCE-IMPACT, visit www.gsu.edu/advance/.
For more about the national effort, visit the National Science Foundation website at https://www.nsf.gov/crssprgm/advance/.
Featured Researchers/Principal Investigators
Neuroscience & Psychology
Marise Parent investigates how the brain uses memory to control eating behavior and the ways in which disruptions in these neural processes contribute to disordered eating. She also investigates how disordered eating, in turn, impacts brain function. Her research program is currently funded by the National Institutes of Health and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. She is also the Principal Investigator on an award from the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation that established the Beckman Scholars Program at Georgia State University, and currently serves as a member of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee for the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior. Dr. Parent has a long-standing record of mentoring junior scientists in STEM and of being involved in initiatives to promote diversity in the STEM pipeline.
Interim Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs
Corrie Fountain is the Interim Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs. Her responsibilities include faculty recruitment, retention, and support. She creates and facilitates faculty development workshops, seminars, and other trainings for faculty, manages faculty awards, and assists with the promotion and tenure process. Dr. Fountain also co-leads the mentoring initiatives for the university and consults with colleges and departments on DEI and faculty belonging. In addition to the ADVANCE-IMPACT team, Dr. Fountain also serves as a Guiding Team Member on a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Grant – REBELS (Re-envisioning Equity to Build Excellence in Leadership and Scholarship).
Associate Professor, and Director of the Institute for Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies
Jennie Burnet’s current research explores the long-term legacies of racialized violence in the U.S. South and the cultural and psychological aspects of mass violence and their impact on women, gender, and race. Dr. Burnet is Director of the Institute for Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and an associate professor in the Department of Anthropology at Georgia State University. In 2019, she was a J.B. and Maurice C. Shapiro Fellow in the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC.
Senior Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Office of Faculty Affairs
Curtis D. Byrd serves as an institutional representative on faculty diversity efforts. He was initially appointed to the Office of the Provost during the 2019-20 academic year and served as Special Advisor to the Provost for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). He currently serves as the Senior Director of DEI in the Office of Faculty Affairs. Dr. Byrd uses his expertise to consult and provide leadership in Georgia State faculty and graduate student diversity and inclusion efforts. He has amassed over 25 years in faculty and student diversity and inclusion programming on college campuses.
Physics & Astronomy
Megan Connors studies the fundamental building blocks of nature by exploring the nucleus under extreme conditions and pushing the limits of our understanding of Quantum Chromodynamics (QCD), the theory describing the nuclear strong force. By colliding heavy nuclei at relativistic speeds, the Relativistic Heavy-Ion Collider (RHIC) at Brookhaven National Lab (BNL) in New York can create a hot dense phase of matter known as the quark gluon plasma (QGP). Under normal conditions, quarks and gluons only exist in bound states but at high enough temperatures and densities like those experienced immediately after the Big Bang, quarks and gluons can behave as free particles within a QGP phase. A new experiment called sPHENIX, on which Dr. Connors has held leadership roles, starts collecting data at RHIC in 2023 to study the QGP.
To support her research, Dr. Connors earned an NSF CAREER grant as well as over $3 Million in grants from Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) and the Department of Energy as a Co-PI. She is the faculty advisor the Women in Physics Student Organization and has served on the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committees for the Department of Physics and Astronomy as well as the RHIC/AGS Users Executive Committee at BNL.
Associate Professor and Program Coordinator of the Counseling Psychology Doctoral Program
Faculty Associate for Professional Development for Faculty Affairs
Senior Faculty Associate, The Graduate School
Cirleen DeBlaere examines the experiences of individuals with multiple and intersecting marginalized identities, with a particular emphasis on the experiences of women of color and other groups with intersecting marginalized identities. To date, her work has focused on the links of minority stressors (e.g., discrimination, prejudice, stigma) to mental health and potential intervening factors in these links. She also examines the role of cultural humility in clinical practice, supervision, and training. Her areas of expertise have led to her garnering over $8 million in federal and foundation training and research grants as PI, Co-PI, and Co-I. Dr. DeBlaere also consults on DEI issues in higher education with colleges/universities and non-profit organizations. She is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association (APA) and was awarded a 2022 Leadership Award by APA’s Committee on Women in Psychology in recognition of her sustained contributions to women’s issues in her scholarship, teaching, mentoring, and leadership service.