Dr. Maria Olivares and Dr. Eli Tucker-Raymond Receive National Science Foundation Grant to Create STEM Equity Research Network

Headshots of Dr. Eli Tucker-Raymond and Dr. Maria C. Olivares
Dr. Eli Tucker-Raymond and Dr. Maria C. Olivares

Dr. Maria C. Olivares, BU Wheelock Research Assistant Professor in Language and Literacy and colleague, Dr. Eli Tucker-Raymond, Research Associate Professor, have received a grant from the National Science Foundation to assist in the development of a network to coordinate research on equity practices and cultures in STEM-maker education.

The grant, which totals nearly half a million dollars, begins on September 1, 2020, and runs through the end of 2024. “Coordinating Research for Critical Making Cultures and Practices is a four-year Advancing Informal Science Learning project,” explains Dr. Olivares, Principal Investigator. Dr. Olivares, along with co-principal investigators Eli Tucker-Raymond (BU Wheelock), Jill Castek (University of Arizona), Edna Tan (University of North Carolina Greensboro), and Cynthia Graville (Saint Louis University), “it will bring together a nation-wide network of scholars, practitioners, and formal and informal education partners in urban and rural sites serving people from groups underrepresented in STEM.”

The goal is to pursue equitable processes rooted in a commitment to understand and build on the skills, practices, values, and brilliance of communities who have robust histories of making not often recognized in more formal STEM learning settings; provide opportunities for high-quality life-long learning across multiple spaces, and actively work to position learners as knowledgeable and creative individuals already situated in intellectually and culturally rich communities.

“This project is about magnetizing and mobilizing critical perspectives on equity in STEM by emphasizing the power of collaboration,” explains Dr. Olivares, “and that’s what’s incredibly exciting about the work that lies ahead.”

At BU Wheelock, Dr. Olivares uses design-based research to work with youth, teachers, and researchers to design formal and informal learning environments that support expansive understandings of STEM. Her research includes examining forms of attunement toward intercultural ways of knowing and being, and re-conceptualizing representation and dissemination of scholarship to include multiple forms of art and humanistic expression. Dr. Olivares is originally from South Central Los Angeles, the proud daughter of Mexican immigrants, and the first in her family to gain access to higher education.

Dr. Tucker-Raymond, also BU Wheelock faculty, is a former middle school teacher. He grew up in Cambridge, MA, and lives there now with his family. He has conducted research with community organizations and schools in Chicago, IL and in the Greater Boston Area. He believes the golden era of hip hop was 1986-1992. He has served as principal investigator and co-principal investigator on several National Science Foundation-funded grants.