UGA education professor Mary Atwater elected president of NARST
Athens, Ga. – Mary M. Atwater, a professor in the College of Education's Department of Mathematics and Science Education, officially became president of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST) on April 13 at the 2015 Annual International Conference in Chicago.
She previously served as president-elect of the worldwide organization and is the first NARST president of color.
Atwater will also serve as the conference chair of the 2016 Annual International Conference in Baltimore. Her theme, "Toward Equity and Justice," will highlight how educational research, theory and policy can influence the way people address issues of equity and justice.
"There is a call by the president of the United States that we need more people to go into the STEM discipline," said Atwater. "I personally believe we know how to do this, but the problem is that legislators and politicians don't like to wait many years to see if something works in education because education is a complex situation."
Atwater attributes educational success to four main components – money, time, effort and commitment.
"Unfortunately, many times, one or more of these components are lacking in places in the United States," she said. "We go through this cyclic process of deciding we need more people to go into STEM, but we never maintain this commitment to solving our problem."
Atwater will also be an invited co-editor of a special issue of a science education journal. She will review manuscripts written by members of the Continental and Diasporic Africa in Science Education Research Interest Group (CADASE RIG). This group is the first Research Interest Group of NARST that encourages science educators to explore research aimed at meeting the needs of people of African descent.
As the first African American female to earn a doctorate in science education at North Carolina State University and the first African American female to serve as department head of mathematics and science education at UGA, Atwater said she does not consider her appointment as the first NARST president of color as 'anything new.'
"It's about a commitment for all people to have science literacy because we are now an international organization," she said. "I want NARST to actually live up to the fact that it's a worldwide organization, and so as a result, I made an effort to ensure my appointments reflected the membership of NARST."
Proposals for the 2016 NARST Annual International Conference are due by August 15, 2015. By early July, the call for program proposals will appear on the NARST website.