Alumna Advances Diversity and Culturally Responsive Teaching in Science Education as Program Director at the National Science Foundation (NSF)

May 07, 2018

Dr. Julia V. Clark (Ph.D. 1980) is the Program Director in the Division of Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings (DRL) in the Directorate for Education and Human Resources at the National Science Foundation (NSF) where she has been for the last 27 years. In this capacity, she recommends the funding of challenging, innovative, and competitive research and education proposals in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). She also monitors the implementation and progress of funded projects.

Dr. Clark has led a distinguished career where she has worked to reform science education in order to build more culturally diverse classrooms and address the achievement gap. Dr. Clark believes that teaching can make a real difference in the disparities in academic performance and she has dedicated her life to this endeavor.

Dr. Clark was mentored at an early age by her teachers and her older sister who was a teacher inspired her to pursue a career in education. She grew up wanting to make a difference. She began her career as a teacher and later, was inspired to pursue a Doctorate at Rutgers GSE by Dr. Samuel DeWitt Proctor.

It was at the GSE where Dr. Clark began her research work and that put her on the path to where she is today. “Dr. Proctor was a good mentor and my advisor, Professor George Pallrand at the GSE, encouraged me to strike the right balance between work and life,” stated Dr. Clark. “From the GSE I learned the essentials of Piaget studies – I had never been in a school that emphasized that.”

Over the course of her distinguished career, Dr. Clark has received a number of honors and awards including the 2016 Distinguished Service Award from the Rutgers Graduate School of Education Alumni Association. Being selected for this award resulted in a trifecta for Dr. Clark as she has now been honored with awards from every higher education institution that she attended. In 2012, she also received the NSF Director’s Distinguished Award for Public Service.

Her publications and research in both science and education journals have addressed a range of timely topics including cognitive development, science curriculum, epidemiology, women and people of color in science and leadership development. Among her many publications are two books: “Closing the Achievement Gap from an International Perspective: Transforming STEM for Effective Education,” and “Redirecting Science Education: Reform for a Culturally Diverse Classroom.”

She has travelled extensively nationally and internationally as a speaker, and workshop/seminar leader, sharing her expertise and talents across a diverse spectrum of audiences. “When I am not making a difference, that will be the time for me to retire,” stated Dr. Clark. “In my retirement, I plan to volunteer my time with students to mentor them as I am passionate about and always want to be engaged with education.”

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