ABOUT E.D.E.F.I

Illuminating patterns, challenges, and supports for Black engineering PhDs entering the professoriate.

Meet the team

Principal Investors

Dr. Ebony Omotola McGee
Associate Professor of Diversity and STEM education

Ebony McGee, associate professor of diversity and STEM education at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College, investigates what it means to be racially marginalized in the context of learning and achieving in STEM. In particular, she studies the racialized experiences and racial stereotypes affecting underrepresented groups of color. Her research also focuses on the effect of racialized experiences and bias on STEM education and career by exploring the costs of academic achievement and problematizing success.

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She investigates how marginalization undercuts success in STEM through psychological stress, interrupted STEM career trajectories, impostor phenomenon, and other debilitating issues. McGee will use her recently awarded NSF CAREER grant to examine ways to broaden participation in engineering and computing through a multitiered research design that studies how race-related bias and microaggressive acts affect the career trajectories of Black, Native American, and Latino/a doctoral students and postdoctoral researchers.

Education is McGee’s second career; she left a career in electrical engineering to earn a PhD in mathematics education from the University of Illinois at Chicago. With funding from five National Science Foundation (NSF) grants, McGee co-founded the Explorations in Diversifying Engineering Faculty Initiative (EDEFI; pronounced “edify”).

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Dr. William H. Robinson
Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering

William H. Robinson, Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering at Vanderbilt University, co-leads the Explorations in Diversifying Engineering Faculty Initiative (EDEFI; pronounced “edify”), which investigates the institutional, technical, social, and cultural factors that impact the current underrepresentation of African Americans in engineering faculty positions. He also leads the Security And Fault Tolerance (SAF-T) Research Group at Vanderbilt University, whose mission is to conduct transformational research that addresses the reliability and security of computing systems.

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His major honors include selection for a National Science Foundation (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program Award and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Computer Science Study Panel, both in 2008. Dr. Robinson is a Senior Member of both the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).

He is a member of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), and a lifetime member of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). Currently, he serves as an Associate Dean in the Vanderbilt University School of Engineering.

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Research Affiliates

Dr. Ocheze Joseph
Research Affiliate

Ocheze Joseph has served as an elementary school based administrator for the past 12 years, serving diverse populations such as high poverty, high English language learners, and gifted and talented. Prior to administration, Ocheze taught students in grades K-6, was a  mentor teacher, Title I teacher, Reading Specialist, and Staff Development teacher.

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She holds an Ed.D. from the University of Maryland as well as an M.S.Ed from Johns Hopkins University. Currently, Ocheze teaches courses to students in both the undergraduate and graduate reading programs. Dr. Joseph is passionate about issues of equity in education and ensuring that our most vulnerable students receive high quality instruction.  Her research interests include language acquisition, early childhood education, struggling readers, family involvement and school improvement planning.

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Dr. Ocheze Joseph
Research Affiliate

Monica F. Cox, Ph.D., is a Professor and Inaugural Chair of the Department of Engineering Education at The Ohio State University. She is also the Director of the International Institute of Engineering Education Assessment (i2e2a) and the CEO of STEMinent LLC, a company that houses educational assessment, Prepared to Be a Pioneer® professional development, and Quirky Time® media offerings.

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In 2011, she became the first African American female to earn tenure in the College of Engineering at Purdue University. Her research focuses on the use of mixed methodologies to explore significant research questions in undergraduate, graduate, and professional engineering education; to explore issues of intersectionality among women, particularly Women of Color in engineering; and to develop, disseminate, and commercialize reliable and valid assessment tools for use in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. Dr. Cox has led and collaborated on multidisciplinary projects totaling approximately $15 million, and she has authored over 100 publications.

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Post-Doctoral Researches

Dr. Dara Naphan-Kingery
Post-doctoral Researcher
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Dara Naphan-Kingery is an interdisciplinary social psychologist and postdoctoral researcher at Vanderbilt University with the Explorations in Diversifying Engineering Faculty Initiative (EDEFI) group. She is interested in understanding the racialized and gendered experiences of historically marginalized engineering scholars.

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She is particularly interested in how mental health and identity management strategies mediate the relationship between discrimination experiences and academic and career outcomes, and the role that social responsible engineering and social justice in engineering can play in attracting and retaining underrepresented students to the field.

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Dr. Monica Ridgeway
Post-doctoral Researcher

Monica L. Ridgeway is a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow as part of the Academic Pathways Program at Vanderbilt University. She has joined the Explorations in Diversifying Engineering Faculty Initiative (EDEFI) research team led by Drs. Ebony McGee and William H. Robinson. Monica has recently received her Ph.D. in Science Education from the University at Buffalo.

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As a former science educator, Monica is concerned with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) teaching and learning for historically and contemporarily marginalized students of color. Her research focuses on the role of identity, racialized experiences, and marginalization in K-12 and Higher education STEM spaces.  Her work seems to challenge and problematize traditional notions of STEM teaching and learning and present solutions for marginalized groups to have access.

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Dr. Oluchi C. Nwosu
Post-doctoral Researcher
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Oluchi Nwosu-Randolph is a postdoctoral fellow in the Sociology department at Vanderbilt University. Her interests pertain to ways that race, ethnicity, and identity development shape individuals’ perceptions of challenges and opportunities.

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Her dissertation examined the utility of DuBois’ double-consciousness, black feminism, and critical race theory for understanding how families and schools shape identity development processes for young refugees resettling in the US. As a member of the Beyond the PhD Research Team, she studies how postdoctoral experiences in STEM fields influence the decisions that women and underrepresented minorities make to leave or remain in academia.

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Research Assistants

Portia K. Botchway
Doctoral Student, Mathematics and Science Education

Portia K. Botchway is a doctoral student in the Department of Learning, Teaching, and Diversity at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College where she studies mathematics and science education. Portia received her A.B. in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology from Harvard College with a secondary field in Classics.

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Between her undergraduate and graduate studies she taught middle school science and high school biology and chemistry for four years at a charter school in Boston, MA.

She is currently a graduate research assistant on EDEFI and additional research projects investigating how elementary students use spatial reasoning and awareness to make sense of angle, length, area, and volume measurement and teachers interpret student work as assessment evidence.

Her research interests include how elementary teachers interact with disciplinary perspectives in mathematics and how teacher learning in the context of professional learning communities impacts instruction and supports student learning.

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Amanda J. Brockman
Doctoral Student, Sociology

Amanda J. Brockman is a doctoral students in the Department of Sociology.  She graduated from Indiana University, Bloomington in 2009 with a B.A. in Spanish and certificates in secondary education (B.S. equivalent) and English as a second language education.  Prior to beginning graduate studies at Vanderbilt, she worked in K-12 public education for six years as a high school Spanish teacher and school librarian.

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She received her M.A. in sociology in 2017.  Her research centers on analyzing hidden gender inequalities within multiple levels of the social structure.  Her M.A. paper, for example, analyzed the gendered components of literary works read in ninth-grade English classes across the United States.

Amanda has been a member of the EDEFI team since the fall of 2016 and is currently involved in multiple projects that examine the experience of STEM students and postdocs.

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Alumni

Stacey L. Houston II
Doctoral Candidate, Sociology
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Stacey is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Sociology. He received his B.A. Sociology from Davidson College in 2013 and his M.A. in Sociology from Vanderbilt University in 2015. His major research interests are health disparities, criminal justice, race/ethnicity, and education. His specific research projects highlight the intersections of these broad fields.

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Stacey’s dissertation explores the link between education, interactions with the criminal justice system, and well-being. More specifically, he investigates how disciplinary practices in early education contribute to involvement with the criminal justice system, which, in turn, leads to health disparities across racial groups. Stacey also currently serves as co-chair of Vanderbilt University’s Graduate Diversity and Inclusion Committee and has worked on the EDEFI project for the past four years.

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Gabriela Leon-Perez
Doctoral Student, Sociology

DISCLAIMER:

This work was supported by grant funding from the National Science Foundation. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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