Sep 15, 2016 | Historic Academy of Medicine, Atlanta, GA
On September 15, Institute Diversity at Georgia Tech will recognize Associate Director and Senior Research Scientist, Dr. Meltem Alemdar as one of the 2016 recipients of the Leadership Excellence Award. Alemdar was selected among women faculty, staff, and alumnae for her demonstration of leadership as head of the CEISMC Evaluation Group.
Limited evaluation and educational research resources drove Georgia Tech to hire Dr. Alemdar to create a group focused on program evaluation and educational research. Developing an effective capacity for rigorous evaluation of STEM education and STEM related programs is critical for Georgia Tech as it increases its institutional participation in the field of education policy and research. The Evaluation Group has now expanded to seven fulltime research scientists and associates. In the past seven years, CEISMC’s Evaluation Group, established by Dr. Alemdar, has received funding for a total of 25 projects, spanning higher education and K-12, including teacher professional development. The work of CEISMC's Evaluation Group provides research and evaluation support for projects across the Georgia Tech campus, the Georgia Department of Education, other institutes of higher education, and the greater Atlanta community. Currently in her seventh year at CEISMC, Dr. Alemdar shared with me her experiences working as a director, an evaluator, a peer, and a valued team player.
“I enjoy the variation that comes with my work,” she mentions about her role in many branches of CEISMC projects. Her research focuses on improving K-12 STEM education through research on curriculum development, teacher professional development, and student learning in integrated STEM environments. Her interests also include evaluation of K-12 STEM initiatives that target low income and minority students. She is involved with GO-STEM, a partnership between CEISMC and Gwinett County Public School District to emphasize STEM within Latino communities, and co-PI for AMP-IT-UP, a K-12 engineering education program that targets increasing student engagement and interest in STEM by developing 21st century skills and improving academic engagement.
Dr. Alemdar’s foothold further expands to working at different levels of the education prism. “Through AMP-IT-UP, I do research related to student outcomes and engineering education in a rural district, while as an external evaluator, I work with Georgia Tech faculty, and other faculty from different universities in GA.”
Because much of the research conducted at Georgia Tech starts with securing funding from appropriate national sources, Dr. Alemdar spends time with many engineering and science faculty to help them through the grant-writing process. “With my team, I help faculty with educational research, and help them to write effective evaluation/assessment plans for their project. Because Georgia Tech does not have a College of Education, CEISMC really helps with educational research,” she says. Many major national funding venues such as the National Science Foundation require educational impacts as a key component of grant proposals, which she provides key expertise in. Assessing these criteria for every new grant and project keeps Dr. Alemdar busy and energized: “Each grant is different; the context changes all the time.”
With each collaboration, she is enthusiastic about the prospect of meeting and working with different people in a variety of settings. “Some days I am out in the field with my team, and others I am in my office, working on data analysis.” In our conversation, it is clear Dr. Alemdar has the drive to increase professional growth opportunities not only for herself, but also for her team. She mentions that this is key for leadership, and that leadership can come with any role, and there are no limitations.
On advice she would share with women seeking leadership skills, Dr. Alemdar emphasized personal connections and team growth. “I like to get to know my team, and I ask them a lot of questions. Isolation comes with tunnel vision, but I like to keep my group fluid. I make sure everyone has a chance to work with each other.” Among her other gestures are monthly meetings and social events to help focus and re-energize group dynamics and celebrating personal milestones such as birthdays. Her dedication to improving the work environment clearly shows: She was chosen by her peers to be one of the recipients of the 2016 CEISMC Leadership Award.
Outside of work, Dr. Alemdar keeps herself involved in the community by partaking in social justice work alongside her husband. Her hobbies expand from staying active with Pilates and hiking to keeping her kitchen constantly stocked to try out new recipes and dishes.
The Leadership Excellence Awards will be distributed at the 2016 Diversity Symposium Reception September 15, 2016 at the Historic Academy of Medicine.
Read more about this event here from the GT News Center: