Emily Borda has been hired as director for the Science, Mathematics and Technology Education (SMATE) program at Western Washington University.
Borda, a professor of Chemistry at Western, was hired following a national search and began her new duties on Sept. 16. She succeeds Ed Geary, who retired as SMATE director after working in the position since 2013.
“I am looking forward to working with Emily, who will continue Western’s well-known excellence in science education. Many thanks to Ed for his leadership and dedication to the program over the past seven years. SMATE has a solid foundation and a bright future,” said Brad Johnson, dean of Western’s College of Science and Engineering (CSE)
The mission of Western’s SMATE program, part of CSE, is to be a national model of effective recruiting and preparation of the highest quality future elementary and secondary mathematics and science teachers.
“I am honored to take on a leadership role for such a collaborative, creative interdisciplinary group of faculty and staff. This is an exciting and crucial time for SMATE to participate in the national conversation about STEM education by enhancing our teacher preparation programs, engaging in scholarship, and working with p-12 teachers and higher education faculty through professional development. We are well positioned to broaden our leadership and collaborations locally and nationally to further the goal of inclusive, high-quality STEM education for all students,” Borda said.
Borda has a doctorate in Chemistry and a master’s degree in Education Leadership and Policy Studies, both from the University of Washington. She was a postdoctoral research associate with the North Cascades and Olympics Science Partnership at WWU. She has served as a faculty member in Chemistry and SMATE since 2005.
Her research is broadly aimed at investigating how students build mental models of chemical phenomena. She is interested in gaining understanding about the roles a student's tacit understanding, conceptual organization, and epistemology of science (what science is, how scientific knowledge is generated and used) play in the construction of their models. Her ultimate goal is to develop classroom and laboratory activities that help students build more coherent, useful models of chemical ideas.
Most recently, Borda has studied how students conceptualize ideas about energy and apply them across different disciplinary contexts, specifically throughout a series of science courses in SMATE aimed at future elementary teachers.
At Western, Borda has held several leadership roles, including as: a member of the Leadership Team for the Advancing Excellence and Equity in Science (AEES program); chair of the WWU General Chemistry Task Force; co-principal investigator (co-PI) of Change at the Core (C-Core); chair of the Chemistry Department Assessment Committee; co-chair of the Committee on Undergraduate Education (CUE); and project co-director of the Whole School Partnership, which helped plan and deliver professional development to science, math and English middle and high school teachers in Blaine, Mount Vernon and Cape Flattery school districts.
In addition, Borda is currently involved in two research and development grant projects. She is co-PI for Content Knowledge for Teaching - Matter, in which she helps create learning materials to develop elementary preservice teachers’ content knowledge for teaching about matter; and is the PI for Unifying Science for Students, which involves investigating students’ ability to transfer ideas across science disciplines.