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Organizers postpone girls’ math-science even...

Organizers postpone girls’ math-science event at MTSU until spring ’22

With guidance from MTSU Medical Director Eric Clark, organizers for the upcoming Tennessee Girls in STEM Math and Science Conference at MTSU have decided to postpone the event until spring 2022 because of COVID-19 concerns.

The one-day conference had been scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 25. Organizers will work with MTSU Event Coordination to determine a new date.

Increasing COVID infection numbers statewide and the ages of the middle school and high school participants helped Clark recommend that the Tennessee Girls in STEM committee postpone the event.

“Having a significant number of students unvaccinated due to age (and needing volunteers to be likely within six feet at times), this is an event that makes sense to postpone until better COVID times (spring sounds wise),” Clark wrote in an email to MTSU Provost Mark Byrnes.

Byrnes shared the information with Tennessee Girls in STEM Director and MTSU chemistry professor Judith Iriarte-Gross, who oversees a committee with about 30 members.

About 100 volunteers assist with the daylong conference.

The fall conference, which now will be celebrating its 25th anniversary in the spring, had so far generated a combined 155 registrations from middle school and high school girls.

Iriarte-Gross said registrations can be refunded or transferred to the spring. Anyone requesting a refund will have to register again for the spring event, she said.

Iriarte-Gross said she will ask Dr. Andrea Eller, an MTSU alumna who is a zoologist at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., to remain the keynote speaker.

— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)


Sept. 7 deadline nears for girls’ math-science event at MTSU

Sept. 3, 2021

Registration ends soon for the 25th annual Tennessee Girls in STEM Math and Science Conference at MTSU, which will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 25.

The deadline to register is Tuesday, Sept. 7, event organizers said. The STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — conference is scheduled to be held in-person, but masks will be required inside university buildings to meet COVID-19 protocols.

Participants attending a previous Tennessee Girls in STEM Conference at MTSU try to get their egg to drop without breaking in a September 2019 file photo. Egg drop will be one of the events during the 25th annual TGIS event at MTSU Sept. 25. (Submitted photo by Nathan Wahl)

Participants at a Tennessee Girls in STEM Conference at MTSU try to get their egg to drop without breaking in the September 2019 file photo. Egg drop will be one of the events during the 25th annual TGIS event at MTSU Sept. 25. (Submitted photo by Nathan Wahl)

Middle school and high school girls — rising fifth through 12th graders — are welcome to participate.

There is a $20-per-person registration fee, but financial assistance is available to students affected by the pandemic. To register and for more details, visit https://mtsu.edu/TGIS.

Tennessee Girls in STEM, or TGIS, helps girls and young women investigate science and mathematics careers, hear from women in math and science, observe science and math workshops and learn about other girls interested in STEM.

For many years, it was known as the MTSU Expanding Your Horizons conference, or EYH.

Dr. Judith Iriarte-Gross, chemistry professor, director of the Women In STEM (WISTEM) Center at MTSU, and founder and director of Tennessee’s first Expanding Your Horizons girls’ STEM education workshop

Dr. Judith Iriarte-Gross

“MTSU is providing for the future workforce in Tennessee, in the South and across the nation by introducing girls to STEM role models at our annual conference,” chemistry professor and conference Director Judith Iriarte-Gross said.

“Twenty-five years of supporting girls and women in STEM is an amazing track record,” she added. “Thanks to MTSU for hosting Tennessee Girls in STEM.”

Alumna Andrea Eller, a zoologist at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., will be the keynote speaker for this year’s event.

“It is so exciting to be able to work at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum,” Eller said.
“They have the most incredible collections of animals, plants, rocks, artifacts … even the attic has some amazing pieces of science in it. For a naturalist like me, it’s a dream come true.”

Dr. Andrea Eller

Dr. Andrea Eller

Eller said when she was just starting in college, “I really had no idea what I was opening up for myself — the opportunities, the people, the travel. I feel very fortunate to have been able to follow my passions, and do scientific research for a living.

“And occasionally, I get to go somewhere to talk about it. Coming back to MTSU to talk about what I do now … I never would have expected to have this opportunity.”

Eller, who has earned her doctorate, is the daughter of Dr. Jackie Eller, a retired professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology now teaching remotely as an adjunct faculty member. Jackie Eller also is a former interim vice provost for research and dean of the College of Graduate Studies.

Off-campus sponsors include Nissan North America, Schneider Electric, Texas Instruments and others. On-campus support is provided by the WISTEM (Women in STEM) Center, Office of the Provost, MTSU, College of Basic and Applied Sciences  and others.

— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)

Andrea Eller, an MTSU alumna who recently earned her doctorate in biological anthropology and works at the Smithsonian Institution, will be the keynote speaker for the Saturday, Sept. 25, Girls in Tennessee STEM conference at MTSU. (Submitted photo)

Dr. Andrea Eller, an MTSU alumna who recently earned her doctorate in biological anthropology and works at the Smithsonian Institution, will be the keynote speaker for the Saturday, Sept. 25, Girls in Tennessee STEM conference at MTSU. (Submitted photo)


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