Keynote Speakers


STEM 2021 | Changing the Story

Keynote Speakers

Keynote Address: Exploring STEM: From Roots to Flowers

Dr. Douglas McDougall | Professor

Professor of Mathematics Education, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education
University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Editor in Chief of Canadian Journal of Science, Mathematics and Technology Education

This presentation will take place in the summer time in Vancouver. We will expect to see some flowering plants. The roots of a plant anchor the plant to the ground and keep it steady. The stem carries water and other nutrients to different parts of the plant. It also provides support to keep the plant standing. The leaves and flowers provide beauty, growth and colour to the plant.

In this presentation, Professor Douglas McDougall will use the metaphor of a plant to discuss where we started with STEM (the roots), and the characteristics of successful STEM activities and emerging research findings (the stem). It is the STEM activities and the possible educational and employment opportunities that provide the variation of the present (the flowers). Finally, he will explore the possible directions we can go in the future (the seed).

To explore the stem of STEM, Prof. McDougall will summarize some of the research that has helped us identify the benefits of STEM and to keep the field moving forward. But the beauty of many plants can be seen from the flower. There are many ways to create collaborative, dynamic and interactive lessons in elementary and secondary schools. Douglas will discuss the principles of STEM-focused lessons to help teachers and researchers to create a STEM-infused classroom (and a bouquet of beautiful and colourful flowers).

Finally, we should always be asking the question “What kind of flower do you plan to have with your STEM?

Professor McDougall is a Professor at the Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto. He is also an Associate Dean, Programs at the Faculty of Education at the University of Toronto. He served as Co-Director of the Master of Teaching Program from 2000 to 2004 and Coordinator of the Master of Teaching Program from 2004 to 2009. In addition, he served as Associate Chair of the Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning (CTL) from 2005 to 2008, and Chair since 2010. In 2018, Prof. McDougall became Chief Editor of the Canadian Journal of Mathematics, Science and Technology Education - one of the leading international journals in the field.

With a distinguished record of scholarship and teaching in mathematics education, Professor McDougall's research on improving instructional strategies at the elementary and secondary school levels has attracted funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Ontario Ministry of Education, and the Toronto District School Board. He has supervised more than two-dozen doctoral students to completion. He is a former president of the Psychology of Mathematics Education, North America Chapter.

Professor McDougall’s contributions to leadership at the University of Toronto are many. He served as a member of the University of Toronto Academic Board from 2005 to 2014, Vice-Chair of the Committee on Academic Policy and Programs from 2006 to 2012, and Chair of the Committee from 2012 to 2014.

Keynote: Teaching Calculus to Life Science Students

Dr. Leah Edelstein-Keshet | Professor

Department of Mathematics
University of British Columbia
Vancouver, Canada

Students arrive at university with little idea of what science is really about, and even less conception of why mathematics is important and helpful. Yet, many of them aspire to be MDs, or biologists, and to solve the important problems of humanity. How do we teach them not only to appreciate scientific ways of thinking but also to see the interconnections between the sciences, the power of mathematics, and the ways science, math, and medicine can illuminate one another? In my talk, I will describe an effort to use first-year calculus to introduce students to some of these notions, though at a basic and accessible level. I will discuss the curriculum and open resources that were developed locally, and showcase some of the case-studies. I conclude with some of the challenges faced by educators, and others by students and speculate on how to address these in future efforts.

Professor Edelstein-Keshet’s career is dedicated to using mathematics as a tool for research in the life sciences. She has become recognized as one of the world leaders in the area of mathematical biology, in which she has been at the forefront for 25 years. Her work spans many topics, from the sub-cellular to the ecological. For the past decade, she has focused on biomedical research, including autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes. She also researches Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr. Edelstein-Keshet earned her Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Mathematics from Dalhousie University and received her doctorate in Applied Mathematics from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel in 1982. She held teaching positions at Brown University and Duke University before joining The University of British Columbia (UBC) as Associate Professor in 1989, becoming Professor in 1995. Her book Mathematical Models in Biology (Random House) is regarded as the definitive textbook in the rapidly growing field of mathematical biology.

She has been awarded the Canadian Mathematical Society’s Krieger-Nelson Prize, which recognizes outstanding research by a female mathematician, and, at UBC, the Faculty of Science Award for Leadership. She has also served as President of the Society for Mathematical Biology.

Keynote: STEM + Art = Design Education:
How can Youth Education promote STEM learning?

Dr. Daniel Roehr | Associate Professor

School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture
Faculty of Applied Science
University of British Columbia
Vancouver, Canada

Today’s youth are the biggest asset for our world’s positive development. Instilling passionate connections to future professions especially during high school right through college, university or craft education, is the foundation of youth’s professional development. High school teachers are therefore, together with the parents, the ‘General Practitioners’ (or gatekeepers) for what education a high school student will need for any future profession. One of the biggest challenges in high school education is to balance state required knowledge and skill transfer, with the youth’s own desires and interests in learning, exploring and thriving. When it comes to design education, it is therefore important that high school teachers’ oral training and syllabus creation includes a link between STEM and Art subjects. STEM should act as an education driver for other subjects, but STEM teachers need to integrate art in their teaching. The awareness of traditional academic subjects such as law, medicine and engineering is not a broad enough palette to entice the youth to be inspired to be the next generation of thinkers, developers and leaders. STEM Syllabuses should include not so well-known subjects like landscape architecture and graphic design and promote the value of an additional craft education such as carpentry, tailoring, plumbing etc. to widen youth’s exposure to professional choices. In fact, teacher training and syllabuses should place priority on niche subjects. STEM subjects should be related to and combined with ART. Often isolated high school art education alone cannot manage this task but integrating the complex interconnected processes of STEM with art education could. This lecture will present examples of how STEM subjects could be integrated with the art and design disciplines of landscape architecture, environmental design or urban design. For example, youth could be applying math exercises in context of the environment to calculate how much rainwater is accumulated by different roof sizes and shapes in relation to the changing climate. This could ignite awareness in the environment, encourage respect for the usefulness of math and introduce the interdependence of design and math in calculating the quantity of water accumulated on different roof shapes. With Google being the biggest library of the world, accessible peer reviewed online research can stimulate and support syllabus content and assignments. The increasingly more complex and researched world provides many opportunities for high school educators to stimulate STEM and Art and can provide the nurturing ground for our future thinkers, craftsman and leaders of the world.

Professor Roehr teaches Landscape Architecture in the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at UBC and is a licensed landscape architect in BC and Berlin. Since 2007, he runs the research group greenskinslab His research focuses on the integration of living roofs as part of holistic systems for storm water management. Daniel coauthored the book “Living Roofs in Integrated Urban Water Systems” (Routledge 2015) and regularly publishes in scientific journals and professional magazines He is working on his new book "Seeing Environment: Interacting with the Landscape - A Guide for Designers" (Routledge exp. 2021) and recently developed a Low Impact Development (LID) application with his research team to calculate stormwater run-off in the initial urban design and planning phase. He also runs a hand drawing blog and Instagram account: which archives 30 years of his architectural hand drawings to inspire students to continue to use hand drawing as a design and research tool additional to current digital modelling applications. In 2013/14, he was a UBC Sustainability Research Fellow and was selected as a team member to compete designing the Canadian National Holocaust Memorial in Ottawa and in 2016 he received the Killam Teaching Prize from UBC. Daniel has practiced extensively in Europe, North America, and Asia. From 1995 to 2000, he was project architect of the award-winning Daimler-Chrysler Green Roof Project, Potsdamer Platz, Berlin, Germany and ran his own firm in Berlin from 1999 to 2007, and co-founded a firm in Shanghai in 2004.

Keynote: STEM as an Expression of Indigenous Science

Dr. Deborah McGregor | Associate Professor

Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Environmental Justice
Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University
Toronto, Canada

Environmental and sustainability science is frequently thought to be a relatively new discipline. Indigenous peoples, however, hold ancient and highly developed ideas of environmental and sustainability science which have significant applicability in understanding and addressing current challenges faced by all of humanity. This presentation/paper will explore concepts of environmental and sustainability science from an Anishinabe theoretical perspective. Anishinaabe worldviews, philosophies, principles and values will be described as they form the foundation for Anishinabe science. I will draw upon my own professional and personal experience in this area as an educator and practitioner to compare and contrast Indigenous and non-Indigenous paradigms of science and explore processes for mediating between two different intellectual traditions. As an Anishinaabe scholar, it has been an important goal of my professional life to seek models for how different knowledge systems can come together to address mutual environmental challenges.

Professor McGregor is the Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Environmental Justice. Her work is in the area of Aboriginal environmental and resource management and governance. The approach she takes is interdisciplinary, and includes such topics as: environmental justice, health, traditional ecological knowledge, water quality, environmental assessment, sustainability, sustainable forest management, environmental planning, and Indigenous knowledge systems.

Her research focus has for the last few years centred on four areas: Indigenous knowledges in an urban context; Indigenous knowledge and environmental justice; Indigenous perspectives on water quality/quantity with a focus on gender; and Indigenous research approaches.

A core aspect of her work involves combining research and teaching in areas such as Indigenous governance and justice, Indigenous knowledge systems, Indigenous pedagogies and research approaches.

Keynote: STEM as an Expression of Indigenous Science

Dr. Shuchi Grover | Senior Research Scientist

Looking Glass Ventures, LLC
Palo Alto, California, USA

Drawing on a rich palette of examples from her research spanning PreK-12 as well as the field more broadly, Dr. Grover will share a suite of pedagogical strategies for meaningful integration of computing and disciplinary learning in PreK-12 CS and STEM classrooms. She will share findings, takeaways, broad frameworks, as well as challenges, to aid the process of changing the story for research and practice.

Dr. Shuchi Grover (Senior Research Scientist, Looking Glass Ventures, California) is a computer scientist and learning scientist by training, who has been engaged in computer science and STEM education for school-aged children for two decades. Her recent research, most of it funded by the US National Science Foundation, is centered on advancing an understanding of STEM+Computing integration in PK-12; promoting computational thinking for neurodiverse learners, building capacity for formative assessment among CS teachers, and addressing gender equity in CS through engagement in exciting emerging topics such as cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and IoT. She edited and co-authored the recently published CS teacher handbook, Computer Science in K-12: An A-to-Z handbook on Teaching Programming.