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Portrait of Chris Botanga smiling at the camera.

Chris Botanga, Ph.D

Co-Principal Investigator

Associate Professor & Director, CSER

  • Ph.D., Biology [Molecular Biology], University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia
  • M.Sc., Plant Breeding & Genetics, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria
  • B. Agric., Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria

Dr. Botanga is an Associate Professor of Genetics & Genomics, and Director at the Center for STEM Education and Research (CSER) at Chicago State University (CSU). In his capacity as Director of CSER, he works very closely with the team members to ensure success on the various projects being executed by the center, and overseeing the day-to-day activities of various STEM initiatives, including ILSAMP and LSMCE. He develops, designs, and implements initiatives aimed at increasing recruitment, retention and graduation of underrepresented minorities in the STEM disciplines. Dr. Botanga maintains a very active research lab that engages students and serves as the training ground for both graduate and undergraduate students at CSU, as well as visiting students. Current research in his lab employs a variety of functional genomic platforms including molecular biology, bioinformatics, epigenetics, and both forward and reverse genetics to understand the mechanism of host-pathogen interactions involved in a battery of defense responses mounted by plants to ward off pathogens. Most recently, his lab (as part of a USDA-NIFA funded project) is evaluating cell wall biosynthetic genes in an effort to identify the genes involved in important agronomic traits. He has authored and co-authored several peer-reviewed journal publications and presentations at local, national and international conferences. He has taught (and continues to teach) a wide range of courses, ranging from Introductory Biology to graduate courses. He is currently the co-chair of the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) for CSU. Prior to joining CSU, Dr. Botanga was a Post-doctoral Associate (genetics and genomics) at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, and Assistant Professor of Biology at Augsburg College, Minneapolis.

Portrait of Kim Nguyen smiling at the camera.

Kim S. Nguyen, EdD

Co-Principal Investigator

  • Ed.D., Educational Leadership-Higher Education Administration, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana
  • M.S., Higher Education Administration , Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Illinois
  • B.A. English, Sai Gon University, Vietnam

Dr. Nguyen is a Co- Principal Investigator of the Pilot Regional Louis Stokes Center: Midwest Center of Excellence. She has also served as Principal Investigator of the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program and coordinated the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) Indiana on the campus of IUPUI. She is the founding director for operations of the Urban Center for the Advancement of STEM Education (UCASE) in the IU School of Education since 2006.

Prior to joining the IU School of Education, Dr. Nguyen served as Assistant Dean for Enrollment Management in the Purdue School of Science. Dr. Nguyen earned her doctor of education degree from Indiana University and has worked in higher education administration at community college, private university and public research institution since 1976. Her areas of expertise include student scholarship and financial aid, student recruitment and retention, STEM educational outreach and project management. Her leadership in building partnership and directing multiple million dollars collaborative projects while promoting diversity among the targeted populations has become an unique attribute to the success of her professional work. She is not only passionate about providing developmental supports to math and science undergraduate students and science career changers who want to become math and science teachers in high need K-12 schools, but also mentoring the underrepresented minority college students in STEM careers. Dr. Nguyen currently collaborates with Chicago State University and Argonne National Laboratory to establish a pilot center of excellence that is funded by the National Science Foundation: The Louis Stokes Midwest Center of Excellence (LSMCE) for broadening the participation of underrepresented minority students (URM) in STEM fields. Her understanding about challenges that hinder the advancement of URM students coupling with her leading roles in science educational outreach to the minority populations will enable her to implement the LSMCE project and disseminate its outcomes broadly and effectively.

Portrait of Pamella Shaw smiling at the camera.

Pamella P. Shaw, DMD, MPH

Co-Principal Investigator

  • M.P.H., Public Health, University of Kentucky Lexington, Kentucky
  • D.M.D., Dental Medicine, University of Kentucky Lexington, Kentucky
  • B.S., Biology, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana

Dr. Shaw is currently the Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Indiana University School of Dentistry. This important leadership role includes development of programs and activities to help increase the recruitment and retention of underrepresented minority students, faculty, and staff. She previously served as an Assistant Provost at Purdue University where she directed and managed two multi-campus alliances supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) Broadening Participation initiative. The Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) Indiana and the Midwest Crossroads Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) target underrepresented minority students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. The programs work to increase student success at the baccalaureate and doctoral levels.

Dr. Shaw is a native of Gary, Indiana, and received her bachelor’s degree from Purdue University. She later graduated from the University of Kentucky with a Doctor of Dental Medicine and a Master's in Public Health. She began her professional career in higher education at the University of Kentucky Medical Center as its Community Liaison for Health Professions and later became the Director of Health Careers Programs. She joined the University of Kentucky College of Dentistry as an adjunct faculty member in 1992. She also directed the Kentucky-Appalachian Science Enrichment Program (KASEP), the Health Career Opportunity Program (HCOP), and the Professional Education Preparation Program (PEPP). The programs worked to increase the academic and career success of high school, undergraduate, and professional students from underrepresented minority, economically disadvantaged and rural populations. For over twenty-five years she has worked with federal and state supported programs to help increase the numbers of students entering careers in science, health, and research.Dr. Shaw serves as a member of the administrative team of the Louis Stokes Midwest Center of Excellence (LSMCE) at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). Her role will help transition students through their baccalaureate programs and prepare them for graduate education and careers in STEM.

Portrait of Meridith Bruozas smiling at the camera.

Meridith Bruozas

Co-Principal Investigator

Ms. Bruozas is an educator by training and has spent the past 15 years in a combination of district, non-for-profit and academic service positions researching and promoting STEM education. She earned her M.S. in Learning Sciences from Northwestern University. She oversees Argonne National Laboratory’s educational programs that currently serve over 4,000 middle and high school, 231 undergraduate, 280 graduate students and 300 post-doctoral appointments each year. Her publications include several national curriculum resources for the K-12 classroom and numerous professional presentations and research articles.

Portrait of Rafael Bahamonde smiling at the camera.

Rafael E. Bahamonde, PhD, FACSM, FISBS

Director of Faculty Outreach

  • Ph.D., Human Performance - Biomechanics, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana
  • M.S., Exercise Science, Indiana State University, Terre Haute, Indiana
  • B.A., Physical Education & Spanish, DePauw University, Greencastle, Indiana

Dr. Bahamonde's research interests are in sport and clinical biomechanics, gait analysis, and injury prevention. He is currently the Acting Associate Dean of the School of Physical Education and Tourism Management and a Professor in the Department of Kinesiology at IUPUI. He is Fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), the International Society for Biomechanics in Sports (ISBS), IU Faculty Colloquium on Excellence in Teaching (FACET) and an IUPUI Translational Scholar. He is an appointed member of the United States Tennis Association Sport Science Committee. Dr. Bahamonde has been the author or co-author of articles in more than 50 publications and proceedings. He was an author for the International Tennis Federation book on Biomechanics of Advanced Tennis and a co-author of the Functional Anatomy Chapter for the ACSM Resources Manual for Exercise Testing and Prescription.

Dr. Bahamonde has received grants from the National Institutes for Health (NIH), United States Olympic Committee in the Elite Athletes Project, United States Tennis Association, US Consumer Safety Commission, American Association of Retired People and other private organizations. In addition Dr. Bahamonde has been involved in the promotion of the undergraduate research and the advancement of the underrepresented minorities in higher education. He was the Director of the Diversity Scholars Research Program at IUPUI (DSRP) and is involved as mentor in programs such as LSAMP, McNairs, UROP, SROP, and HBCU. Because of his accomplishments as a mentor and work in helping to foster undergraduate research students, he received the 2010 IUPUI Center for Research and Learning Director’s Mentoring Award for Outstanding Leadership and Mentoring of Undergraduate Research.

Portrait of Crystal Porter smiling at the camera.

Crystal E. Porter, PhD

Associate Director for Special Projects

  • Ph.D., Polymer Chemistry, Missouri University of Science and Technology, Rolla, Missouri
  • B.S. Chemistry, Chicago State University, Chicago, Illinois

Dr. Porter is the Associate Director for Special Projects within the Center for STEM Education and Research at Chicago State University (CSU). She is responsible for designing, developing and implementing projects to support the Center’s objective of providing quality STEM education and preparing students to pursue baccalaureate and advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering and technology (STEM) disciplines. Dr. Porter spent the majority of her career at L’Oréal, USA in Chicago, Illinois where she managed the Physics Laboratory and Consumer Insights teams. Over the years she has shared her research findings at national and international venues and has authored numerous papers, presentations and book chapters. Throughout her professional career, Dr. Porter volunteered her time implementing and supporting educational initiatives for youth and underrepresented populations with an emphasis on science-related programs.

Portrait of Angela Henderson smiling at the camera.

Angela Henderson, Ph.D

Dr. Angela Henderson is the Provost and Senior Vice President for academic affairs at Chicago State University, with over 25 years of experience in higher education. As Provost, Dr. Henderson is the chief academic officer and provides oversight for academic and research programs within CSU’s 5 colleges. Dr. Henderson previously served CSU as the Vice President of Enrollment Management. She earned a Ph.D. and a Master’s in Nursing and an MBA at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). Dr. Henderson provides "institutional clout" to the CSU’s Center for STEM Education and Research (CSER) and its programs, including the LSMCE and the ILSAMP. Her expertise in higher education includes leadership in academic affairs, student affairs, enrollment management, adult education, developmental education, research and planning, and continuing education. Prior to her career as an Academic Administrator, Dr. Henderson worked in the field of nursing as a nurse manager. Her research interests include HIV/AIDS prevention measures for African American males.

Portrait of Deon Ettinger smiling at the camera.

Co-Principal Investigator

  • B.S., Mechanical Analysis and Design Engineering, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
  • M.S., Mechanical Engineering, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
  • Ph.D., Engineering Mechanics, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

Dr. Deon Ettinger is a Program Leader in the Communications, Education and Public Affairs Division (CEP) at Argonne National Laboratory (ANL). He is the facility manager for the 2 MeV van de Graaff accelerator in Building 203 and serves on the Accelerator Safety Review Committee as deputy chair. His background is in analytical chemistry research and he has managed educational activities for university faculty, graduate students and undergraduate students at Argonne. Currently, he leads programs in Science Education and Technology within CEP. Dr. Ettinger has extensive research experience in analytical and physical chemistry, as well as in science education. He received a B.Sc. from Dalhousie University and a Ph.D. from the University of New Mexico.

Portrait of Lezlie Thompson smiling at the camera.

Lezlie J. Thompson, MPA

Associate Director

  • B.A., Political Science, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN
  • M.P.A., Human Resources/Labor Relations, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana

Lezlie is the Associate Director of Chicago State’s Center for STEM Education and Research (CSER). CSER houses STEM program initiatives such as the, the Illinois Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (ILSAMP) and the Urban STEM Talent Expansion Program (USTEP) and most recently the Louis Stokes Midwest Center of Excellence, (LSMCE). Lezlie’s involvement in a summer program eight years ago at Chicago State University influenced her desire her to work with college students. Lezlie has been immersed in STEM student programs since that time. As an Associate Director, CSER, Lezlie is charged with data collection, program evaluation and compliance, policy development, outreach activities as well as the event planner for the annual research symposiums for both the ILSAMP and USTEP programs.

Additionally, Lezlie coordinates the student activities of USTEP. Her areas of responsibility include student recruitment and retention, motivating students, organizing workshops, seminars and field trips, an interacting with faculty instructors and researchers in the summer research program.

Ms. Thompson had fifteen years’ experience as Human Resource Director before coming to Chicago State University. Lezlie was the Human Resources Director for both the Gary, Indiana Housing Authority and the Lake County, (Indiana) Government, Crown Point Indiana, where she gained experience with personnel workshops, recruitment, benefits administration, risk management, employee and labor relations, and project development experience.

Ms. Thompson is a member of the Society of Human Resource Management, (SHRM), National Society Of Black Engineers, (NSBE) and a life member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

Portrait of Sukey Blanc smiling at the camera.

Sukey Blanc, PhD

Lead Evaluator

  • Ph.D., Anthropology, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA
  • M.A., Linguistics, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
  • B.A., Anthropology, Barnard College, New York, NY

Dr. Blanc’s work has centered on evaluation and participatory research in urban schools and universities, with a focus on educational equity. Dr. Blanc’s company, Creative Research and Evaluation (CR&E), is committed to evaluating educational programs in order to help our clients meet the needs of students, educators and communities. The goals of CR&E are to provide meaningful information about outcomes, foster reflection, and support organizational improvement. CR&E looks forward to using our skills in formative and summative evaluation to assess the progress of LSCME, to build the Center’s capacity for self-assessment, and to share the Center’s learning about how to scale up practices shown to be effective in broadening participation in STEM in higher education.

Dr. Blanc is a former middle school math teacher, an urban anthropologist, and a skilled qualitative researcher with experience in developing, managing, and implementing mixed-methods evaluations of educational programs. She is joined by a team who with skills in survey design, statistical analysis, and assessment of student engagement for underrepresented minority groups. Dr. Blanc is an active member of the Independent Consulting Topical Interest Group of the American Evaluation Association. She has extensive experience in evaluating programs intended to improve educational quality and access for first-generation college students and young people in under-represented groups in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). She has conducted numerous evaluations of National Science Foundation-funded STEM education projects.

Portrait of Jon Eynon smiling at the camera.

Jon Eynon

Instructional Technology Specialist

  • M.S., Ecology, Purdue University, Indianapolis, IN
  • B.S., Fisheries Science/Zoology, University of Wisconsin- Stevens Point, Stevens Point, WI

Jon came to IUPUI in the spring of 1997 as a graduate student of the late Dr. Ray Russo. In Dr. Russo’s lab, Jon learned how to merge his love of both computers and biology into one degree and eventually into one career. Working with Ray closely on The Virtual Forest project, Jon learned creative design and high tech software to make students engaged in real world science experiences from behind the keyboard. With Ray’s death, Jon took over his teaching responsibilities in the ecology lab and eventually went on to grab a full time job at IUPUI’s Center for Teaching and Learning. There, Jon helped faculty incorporate technology into their teaching techniques.

On the side, Jon created EcoLogik, Inc., a company that helps those in the sciences incorporate technology into their outreach. Jon has worked for such companies as Disney, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Hoosier Riverwatch, Oregon State University, the Ohio Council of RC&Ds and many others. He has been involved with the LSAMP, STEP, JiTT, Noyce, and GK programs here at IUPUI.

When he is not stuck behind a computer you can find him playing with his yellow lab, Biscuit, and spending time with his wife Sara and their two children.

Portrait of Deb Cole smiling at the camera.

Deb Cole

Academic Specialist-Programming Associate

  • B.A. Chemistry, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana
  • B.A. Sociology, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana
  • MSCA Certification, New Horizons Computer Learning Centers, Indianapolis, Indiana

Deb is the Academic Specialist-Programming Associate for the Louis Stokes Midwest Center of Excellence. She brings more than twenty years of exceptional program and project management experience, spanning informatics, IT, quantitative and qualitative research, and education in a university and non-profit setting.

Her grant and project management experience began at IUPUI in 1995, overseeing the day-to-day research administration and budgets of two multi-million dollar NIH R01 grants at the IU School of Nursing.

Since then, she has served as Information Systems Administrator at the Walther Cancer Foundation and as Sr. Systems Analyst at the Hoosier Oncology Group, both of which included infrastructure development, marketing and communications in the area of clinical oncology research.

Her areas of expertise include community building, outreach and program development, specifically in the area of training and education. She is a member of Alpha Chi Epsilon, a professional fraternity specializing in the field of chemistry.