Briana Keafer, left, and Professor Kelly Ward

Science and engineering programs could do more to prepare students to be ethical, creative, and insightful professionals. That’s how Briana Keafer sees it.  Which is why, with a masters in microbiology under her belt, Briana switched career paths and started work on a Ph.D. in education at WSU Pullman.

Her goal is to be a consultant who focuses on the development of university-level science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) curriculum and instruction.   She wants to help faculty develop programs that appeal to more women and minorities, and that produce graduates who make a positive difference in the world.

Briana is the graduate assistant for WSU’s $5 million, five-year ADVANCE grant, part of a National Science Foundation program aimed at recruiting and retaining women in university science and engineering careers. Specifically,  she’s researching how Washington State can better attract, keep and promote women in the STEM disciplines.

Briana donned a familiar lab coat for the above photo in her former workplace with her College of Education advisor, Kelly Ward. She works closely with Professor Ward (see “Researcher looks for ways to boost women’s academic careers“).  She says she also connects with administrators, faculty and staff from the colleges of Science, Engineering and Architecture, and Agriculture, Human, and Natural Resources Sciences.  “My responsibilities include collecting indicator information for NSF, interviewing faculty and department chairs, meeting with department liaisons, and reviewing literature and universities’ practices to find recommendations for WSU.”

As for the future, Briana says her ideal job would take her overseas. In that case, the best academic practices that she’s helping to define at WSU would have an even broader impact.