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Carlson’s outreach, research transforms CRESMET

June 05, 2008

Marilyn Carlson, who has brought national prominence to the Center for Research on Education in Science, Mathematics, Engineering and Technology (CRESMET) in her five years as director, will return to the ASU mathematics faculty July 1.

Carlson has been a dynamic force for change since joining ASU in 1995, almost single-handedly building the First Year Mathematics program before joining CRESMET in 2003. At CRESMET, she has advanced research, particularly in the area of math education, and has taken the center to a level of national renown.

“In a major accomplishment, she has racheted up the reputation of CRESMET across the campus and nationally, and has done a marvelous job of increasing the amount of funding,” says George Hynd, senior vice provost for education and innovation and dean of the Mary Lou Fulton College of Education. “I knew about CRESMET when I was dean of education at Purdue. It has served as a model for developing centers at major universities that help faculty connect across disciplines.”

CRESMET is an interdisciplinary research center that produces new knowledge to improve the education of all students in science, mathematics, engineering and technology (STEM). Teams from across campus develop, refine and share products that support better instruction in the four fields.

Carlson is the recipient and principal investigator for CRESMET’s largest current initiative, Project Pathways, a $12.5 million, five-year research effort funded by the National Science Foundation to produce and test a new model for enhancing instruction of precalculus math and science in grades 9-12.

Her work has focused on how students learn central concepts of mathematics, particularly functions. She has received an NSF CAREER Award and an NSF Teacher Professional Continuum Grant, and has been on the Governor’s Council on Innovation and Technology.

James Middleton, who recently was appointed associate senior vice provost for STEM education improvement, will serve as interim director until a new director is appointed.

Middleton, who is a longtime colleague of Carlson, praised her work in the community, as well as her transformative research.

“At CRESMET, Dr. Carlson has focused attention on relationships with our local school partners and has worked tirelessly to create opportunities for teachers to benefit from the expertise of ASU faculty,” he says. “In addition, she has continued to work extensively in the reform of undergraduate mathematics.

“She is one of our top faculty working in education in terms of external funding and national reputation. I am grateful for her support and collegiality over the years and, in my interim role, will work just as hard to keep CRESMET moving in a positive direction as we search for a scholar of national repute to take over where Dr. Carlson has left off.”

Hynd says Middleton will continue to encourage the collaboration of ASU faculty across the four campuses to increase the ability to respond to the nation’s needs for more math and science teachers.