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A former provost of Harrisburg University, who is a nationally recognized consultant, scientist, science educator, and higher education leader, will speak on the importance of mentoring in undergraduate research during a lecture at Harrisburg University of Science and Technology on Jan. 17.

Dr. Karen Kashmanian Oates, the Peterson Family Dean of Arts and Sciences at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts, will present, “Authentic, Relevant and Impactful: The Foundations of Undergraduate Research,” in the University Auditorium on the 14th floor of HU’s educational building at 326 Market St. in downtown Harrisburg. The free event will include networking and a lunch from 11:30 to noon, followed by her lecture beginning at noon.
Among the many achievements of her career, Dr. Oates served as the inaugural provost of Harrisburg University, where she established the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement and helped secure National Science Foundation (NSF) funds for Science Education for New Civic Engagement and Responsibilities, which worked to improve undergraduate STEM/STEAM education by connecting learning to critical civic questions.

“It is a pleasure to welcome Dr. Oates back to campus, where she helped establish the experiential hands-on learning model that is at the heart of learning at Harrisburg University,” said Dr. Eric Darr, president of Harrisburg University. “The event is an opportunity for professors, students and other educators to learn strategies and tactics from a national expert on breaking down barriers and building foundations for undergraduate research, as well as the benefits of a problem-based undergraduate research program.”

As Dean of Arts and Sciences at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Oates oversees seven academic departments — Biology and Biotechnology, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Computer Science, Humanities and Arts, Mathematical Sciences, Physics, and Social Science and Policy Studies — as well as interdisciplinary programs in Environmental Science and Interactive Media and Game Development.

Dr. Oates joined WPI from the National Science Foundation, where she served as deputy director of the Division of Undergraduate Education. At the NSF, she managed a budget of more than $380 million and a staff of more than 35 who were charged with supporting innovative programs to strengthen undergraduate and graduate education and helped revitalize American entrepreneurship and competitiveness.

Among the honors she has received are the Bruce Albert’s Award, presented by the American Society to Cell Biology for excellence in science education reform, and the Distinguished Public Service Award, the highest civilian honor presented by the City of Harrisburg Pennsylvania. In 2012, she was inducted as a fellow into the prestigious American Association for the Advancement as Science Education fellow, and in 2016 a Sigma Xi distinguished lecturer.

After receiving her Ph.D. at George Washington University Medical Center in Biochemistry, Dr. Oates worked as a visiting scientist at the National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute Oncology and Hematology Division. She began her academic career at George Mason University, where, as associate dean for the newly established College of Integrated and Interdisciplinary Studies, she helped create George Mason’s New American College environment.

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