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UHD Diversity in STEM Scholars Series Debuts Feb. 26


By Mike Emery

Dr. Terrell Morton

Although many Gators are away from campus, the University of Houston-Downtown’s community continues to come together for unique, virtual learning experiences.

The latest event to facilitate critical dialogue among faculty, staff and students is the upcoming Diversity in STEM Scholars Series, featuring scientists of color sharing their stories and addressing the challenges faced by STEM communities in Houston and across the nation.

This week, the series begins with a discussion from Dr. Terrell R. Morton, Assistant Professor of Identity and Justice in STEM Education at the University of Missouri-Columbia (UMC). Dr. Morton’s presentation begins at noon, Friday, Feb. 26. Attendees are encouraged to register in advance of this event.

A scholar-activist, Dr. Morton, works in UMC’s Learning, Teaching, and Curriculum Department of the College of Education. His research focuses on engagement and persistence among minority STEM students in postsecondary education. Recent research endeavors have explored how educators can inspire more Black female students to follow STEM career paths.

"Imagine walking into a lab or a classroom and seeing pictures of people on the walls that are nothing like you," Morton said. “People have a very narrow view of what science looks like, and right now, it's older white men wearing goggles and holding beakers. When a young woman of color sees those images in a learning environment, it can make her feel unwelcome because there is nothing in that image that represents her."

Morton is the first of four spring speakers in this series. Other participating scholars include, Dr. Danielle Twum (March 26), Dr. Jelani Zarif (April 13) and Dr. Joyce Gardner (April 30).

The Diversity in STEM Scholars Series is sponsored by the University’s ​SynergIE in Natural Sciences initiative (supported by a grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute).

“As part of our SynergIE program in developing, fostering, and expanding inclusive excellence in STEM, we are beginning a series of events where we invited young scholars to talk about their experiences as scientists of color or scientists whose identities are often invisible or marginalized by STEM education and the professional workforce,” said Dr. Akif Uzman, Dean of UHD’s College of Sciences & Technology.

Additional details on the Scholars Series, upcoming speakers and other initiatives can be found on the SynergIE website.


About the University of Houston-Downtown

The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.

U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit uhd.edu.