News & Collaborations

UNH Receives $3.6 Million To Examine Climate Change Effect on Ecosystems

DURHAM, N.H.— The University of New Hampshire is one of 14 universities from around the globe that have collectively been awarded $12.5 million by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to launch a new Biology Integration Institute (BII), called EMERGE. UNH will receive $3.6 million and will collaborative with the other universities to focus on better understanding ecosystem and climate interactions—like the thawing of the Arctic permafrost—and how they can alter everything from the landscape to greenhouse gases.

EMERGE, which stands for “EMergent Ecosystem Response to ChanGE,” is an ambitious five-year project that will concentrate on discovering how the processes that sustain life and enable biological innovation operate and interact within and between each other—from molecules to cells, species and ecosystems—under dynamically changing conditions. The end result will be a new “genes-to-ecosystems-to-genes” framework to create models that could help predict ecosystem response to change.


Improving STEM Education

With major NSF grant, UNH supports NH teachers

Wednesday, July 22, 2020:  UNH Today

A major National Science Foundation grant to UNH aims to improve science and mathematics education for middle and high school students in Manchester, Nashua and Rochester schools. The five-year grant will support 15 science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) teachers to build their leadership skills, equity pedagogies and STEM content knowledge and instruction.

“It’s never been more important for all New Hampshire students to have access to high-quality STEM education,” says principal investigator Lara Gengarelly, UNH Extension specialist and affiliate associate professor for science education in UNH’s Joan and James Leitzel Center for Mathematics, Science and Engineering Education. “Given the shifts in the K-12 science education landscape in the U.S., the performance disparities in STEM subjects across different populations of students and the changing demographics and pockets of poverty in New Hampshire school districts, supporting teachers as leaders in STEM and equity education is essential work that UNH is well-suited to lead.”

“Supporting teachers as leaders in STEM and equity education is essential work that UNH is well-suited to lead.”

The $1.49 million grant will fund a program called Building Equity Leaders for STEM in New Hampshire (BELS in NH) that engages partners from Manchester, Nashua and Rochester school districts as well as two professional organizations, NH Teachers of Mathematics and NH Science Teachers Association, that serve K-12 teachers in the state. Lessons learned from this project can then be applied regionally and nationally.

BELS will recruit and work with STEM teachers in grades six through 10 to participate in a master teacher fellowship program over five years. In addition to deepening their STEM content knowledge and pedagogies, fellows will engage in equity and justice-focused training that aims to enhance their capacity to design STEM learning experiences that are community-responsive, relevant and authentic. The Manchester, Nashua and Rochester school districts represent some of the largest and most demographically diverse and dynamic school districts in the Granite State.

Read the full article


Connecting Through GLOBE

A video from the U.S. GLOBE Office, located at the Leitzel Center at UNH, about high school students connecting through science will be featured in the 2020 STEM for All Video Showcase, held online May 5 – 12, 2020.


Circular logo with text STEM for all


The video, “Students connect through science at GLOBE Symposia,” follows students and their teachers as they attend the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Regional GLOBE Student Research Symposia (SRS) in Boston in spring 2019. Participants describe how the event reaches diverse audiences, their ability to connect students from different demographics and how participation in the symposia has shown to increase student self-efficacy in the science practices.


What's Working: Finding tomorrow's workers in kindergarten?

Union Leader article by Michael Cousineau

MANCHESTER — It’s never too early.


This includes reaching out to kids in kindergarten through second grade to create the earliest of worker pipelines.


“That’s when they’re deciding what to be when they grow up,” said Barbara Hopkins, who’s working on one of several pilot projects that the Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute/BioFabUSA is funding.

Hopkins, as part of the effort by the University of New Hampshire’s Joan and James Leitzel Center for Mathematics, Science, and Engineering Education, is producing “unit lessons” for teachers to use as soon as this fall to get kids interested in the life sciences and eventually pursuing a career.

The aim is to get kids from K-12 involved — and become a model for other states.

Read the full article


Provost Jones Announces Leitzel Center Interim Director

Julie Bryce, professor of geochemistry, has agreed to serve as interim director of the Joan and James Leitzel Center for Mathematics, Science and Engineering Education for the 2019-20 academic year. Julie brings a dedication to working with K-12 teachers, decades of experience mentoring earlier career scientists and leadership experience in numerous projects from the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Geological Survey and private foundations to direct scientific research projects, build capacity and engage with the K-12 community.
A member of the Earth sciences department for 16 years, she served as chair for two terms and was a member of the executive committee for the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences. This past year she served as a faculty fellow in the Office of the Senior Vice Provost for Engagement and Faculty Development, where she was co-chair of the university’s Research and Engagement Academy.
Professor Bryce will direct the center through its next year and foster its integration into its new home under the Office of Outreach and Engagement within the UNH Research Office; Leitzel Center Director Ruth Varner is taking a year of sabbatical leave (July 1, 2019 - June 30, 2020).

Please join me in congratulating Julie on her new role.


Wayne Jones
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs


Cheryl Lavoie - Best Poster in STEM Education at the GRC, April 2019

Ruth Varner, Cheryl Lavoie, Chris Bauer
Ruth Varner, Cheryl Lavoie, and Chris Bauer

The Leitzel Center Award for Best Poster in STEM Education Research at the Graduate Research Conference (April, 2019) goes to Cheryl Lavoie, “Polar or non-polar: Student decision-making when offered sequential or simultaneous exemplars with and without electrostatic potential maps”. She is pictured with her faculty advisor, Chris Bauer, Professor, UNH Chemistry and Ruth Varner, Director of the Leitzel Center for Mathematics, Science and Engineering Education.


Dalton Marsh received the Leitzel Award for best oral presentation

Sheree Sharpe, Dalton Marsh, and Ruth Varner
Sheree Sharpe, Dalton Marsh, and Ruth Varner

Dalton Marsh received the Leitzel Award for best oral presentation in STEM Education Research at the Graduate Research Conference at the Whittemore Center in April, 2019.  The presentations in the Leitzel Award competition were all extremely relevant and very high quality in the area of K-12 STEM education. He is pictured with his faculty advisor, Sheree Sharpe, Assistant Professor, UNH Department of Mathematics and Statistics and Ruth Varner, Director of the Leitzel Center for Mathematics, Science and Engineering Education.




Hands-on learning for citizen scientists through Schoolyard SITES

Students in multiple Rochester schools have taken on the roles of citizen scientists, thanks to a partnership with the University of New Hampshire’s Cooperative Extension and the Leitzel Center.

Through its collaboration with UNH’s Schoolyard Science Investigations by Teachers, Extension Volunteers and Students (Schoolyard SITES), students at five schools are exploring a variety of scientific areas through hands on research and experimentation.

Schoolyard SITES is a UNH research study that investigates a new professional development model for elementary school teachers, while giving students opportunities to explore science on a deeper and more engaging level. With support from the UNH Cooperative Extension science volunteers, teachers develop science investigations that incorporate student learning goals and the Next Generation Science Standards.


Jovana Milosavljevic-Ardeljan earns Leitzel Center award for STEM Education and Outreach at the 2018 GRC!

Ruth Varner and Jovana Milosavljevic-Ardeljan
The Director of the Leitzel Center, Ruth Varner,
with Jovana Milosavljevic-Ardeljan

Jovana Milosavljevic-Ardeljan (PhD Student, Education) earned the Leitzel Center Award for STEM education at the 2018 Graduate Research Conference. The Leitzel Award recognizes Graduate Student accomplishment and impact in the area of STEM education and outreach. The title of her presentation was "Communication Across Disciplines: Effectively Articulating the Value of your Work".





Mary Sherman receives the Leitzel Center STEM Outreach and Education award for 2018

Mary Sherman, winner Leitzel Center award, URC-ISE 2018

Mary Sherman with her winning poster "Elementary School Students' Reaction to a
Food System-Based After-School Program".

Mary Sherman, UNH Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems 2018 – Mary received the Leitzel Center STEM Outreach and Education poster presentation category at the Undergraduate Research Conference (URC), Interdisciplinary Science & Engineering Symposium (ISE) on April 18, 2018.



UNH gets grant to improve science education

kids participating in Bio Blitz in field 2017

UNH Cooperative Extension, in partnership with the Joan and James Leitzel Center and the UNH Education Department, has received a National Science Foundation Discovery Research PreK-12 (NSF DRK-12) grant to improve science education in New Hampshire’s schools by bringing together elementary school teachers and Cooperative Extension science volunteers for a community-based professional development partnership. The team is the first at UNH to receive a highly-competitive NSF DRK-12 grant.

Known as Schoolyard Science Investigations by Teachers, Extension Volunteers and Students (Schoolyard SITES), the project connects elementary school teachers with Extension science volunteers in a partnership that improves educators’ confidence, science content knowledge and instructional practice. Together with a UNH interdisciplinary team of experts, teachers and volunteers will learn how to design and implement locally-relevant, community-based citizen science projects with elementary school students.


Are you ready to integrate science practices into your teaching?

Book cover - DiveIN!

How can you create opportunities for student-directed investigations in your learning setting? Have you ever considered partnering with a scientist to add depth to your lessons?

These are some of the central questions of the new book "Dive In! Immersion in Science Practices for High School Students" by Karen J. Graham, Lara M. Gengarelly, Barbara A. Hopkins and Melissa A. Lombard.

“Dive In!” explains the important ways in which science instruction is evolving.



Ruth Varner Receives Faculty Excellence Award