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Tennessee STEM Education Center

Tennessee STEM Education Center

The Tennessee Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Education Center (TSEC) is a research and outreach arm of MTSU, aimed at improving K-20 STEM education both locally and nationally.  TSEC partners with internal and external stakeholders to identify and address critical issues that impact access, equity, innovation, and leadership through collaborative activities, sponsored projects, and dissemination products at professional meetings and in practitioner and research journals. TSEC currently sponsors several high-profile annual events including the STEM Education Research Conference, the STEM Expo, and Posters at the Capitol, and invites the MTSU community to fulfill and refine the TSEC mission and vision through its involvement in existing programming or by initiating a conversation with us about how to better serve our constituencies.   

TSEC Research Services

How TSEC supports STEM Education Research?

Partner with TSEC

How can I get involved with TSEC?

Hub Resources

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Calendar of Events

When are upcoming events?

Our Mission

The Tennessee STEM Education Center (TSEC) aims to serve as a model of expertise and leadership in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education through growth of internal and external research initiatives, fostering of partnerships, and expansion of educational programs. TSEC seeks to partner with stakeholders invested in STEM education to achieve a position of local and national prominence.


  • Encourage and promote the development of quality undergraduate and graduate programs in STEM education.
  • Provide collaboration and support for STEM education projects, grants, and research.
  • Broaden engagement of students and educators in STEM to provide communities with a skilled and STEM-literate workforce.
  • Influence local, state, and national policies related to K-20 STEM education.
  • Facilitate quality STEM opportunities for students and teachers through ongoing workshops, camps, institutes, and outreach events.

What our Faculty Partners are saying…

Explore compelling narratives from former TSEC Associate Directors detailing their enriching experiences and productive outcomes achieved through collaboration with TSEC.

“In my second year as an Assistant Professor, I faced a stark reality: I had ambition but lacked expertise for a major funding opportunity. A campus colleague introduced me to TSEC, marking a pivotal career turn. At TSEC, my grant writing skills were quickly challenged, revealing my gaps and leading to an unexpected opportunity: becoming an Associate Director at TSEC, promising professional and personal growth. Within three years, TSEC’s mentorship helped me successfully submit two federal grant proposals as PI and assist in others as Co-PI for MTSU awards and subawards, collectively securing over $30 million. Beyond numbers, TSEC was where I enhanced project management and leadership skills, sharing ideas and building a community that drove change. TSEC became more than a team; it was a community of like-minded individuals, essential for navigating academia’s complexities. With the experiences, lessons, and connections made, I’m better equipped for future challenges. I don’t know where else I could have found that community across MTSU.”

Assistant Professor, CBAS

“Before Greg knocked on my office door, I was a methodologist, primarily working on simulations on my computer with limited interaction with people. I saw myself as an introvert and an independent researcher. When I opened the door for Greg, things changed drastically, far beyond my expectations.

I started with TSEC aiming to contribute my expertise in educational measurement, study design, and data analysis. I collaborated with researchers from various disciplines in TSEC, offering consulting services based on my knowledge. Soon after, Greg and other TSEC colleagues encouraged me to start writing proposals. With their incredible support, I landed two USDA NIFA grants with other TSEC assistant/associate directors, totaling $1.2 million, to conduct research that would benefit agriculture education throughout Tennessee and surrounding states.

Becoming a member of TSEC proved to be a game-changer for my career. It’s not just an office, it’s a buzzing hub of collaboration and creativity. I enjoyed the friendly faces and lively conversations about our shared goals, research interests, exciting ideas that would make real-world impacts.

Greg is a great mentor. TSEC, with Greg’s leadership and vision, brought my career to another level, transforming me from an introvert and independent researcher into someone who embraces collaboration, though not always an extrovert! My valuable experience at TSEC is vital in securing my current position at James Madison University.

Joining TSEC has undoubtedly shaped my growth as a researcher. Although I’ve moved on, our collaborative efforts continue. I hold onto my TSEC experience with deep appreciation, recognizing the immense contribution it made to my professional development.”

Associate Professor, CBHS

“My time in TSEC allowed me to make connections and build professional relationships with MTSU faculty outside my department. We worked hard as a collective to get to know one another personally and professionally, beginning staff meetings with community-building ice-breakers, making an effort to celebrate one another’s accomplishments through lunch outings, collectively brainstorming about problems of practice in our Think-Tank sessions, and engaging in team-building activities during our annual retreat. My first year in TSEC corresponded with the time of the COVID-19 outbreak, and having a community of folks who I could rely on as colleagues and friends meant so much to me during that isolated season. Moreover, I became much better connected across campus, getting to know some of the key players in offices such as graduate studies, equity and compliance, and research and sponsored programs, as well as departmental leaders across departments in CBAS and COE. I believe these connections are the main reason I have been asked to take on new leadership positions on campus, including serving as Associate Chair in my department, co-chair of the Quest 2025 Priority 1 workgroup on faculty development, and member of the univerisity’s Community Engagement Advisory Group.”

Professor, CBAS

“As I progressed in my tenure at MTSU, moving from Assistant to Associate, and eventually to Full Professor, I found that my influence on my colleagues and students became greater. When I spoke, it carried more authority, and when I counseled, my mentees would take my words to heart. I realized that this additional authority was paired with a heavy dose of responsibility to the people in my sphere of influence. In order to do it well, I myself needed a mentor, who I found in Dr. Rushton.

Dr. Rushton’s greatest strength as the director of TSEC is that he demonstrates a care for the professional development of each and every person in TSEC. He made time for me, sometimes hours at a time, to mentor me in the areas I needed most: leadership, grant-writing, and “pulling back the curtain” on university operations. I wish I could say that I knew of my need for a professional mentor in advance of my time in TSEC, but it was really through the proactive support of Dr. Rushton that I realized what I had been missing in my professional development. He has high expectations for me as a scholar, and does not hesitate to push me in the areas where he knows I can progress.”

CBAS Professor

“Since starting at MTSU, I have had a strong professional connection to the Tennessee STEM Education Center (TSEC). In my first academic year (2013/2014), the previous TSEC Director, Dr. Tom Cheatham, invited me to serve as a Co-PI on a National Science Foundation Discovery Research K-12 (DRK-12) grant which we received after our first submission. This was a five-year project where I led the education research component. This experience was crucial in my early career development and progress towards tenure and promotion.

When Tom retired, I was personally invested in the future success and growth of TSEC because of the significant role it had played in my early career development and communicated this to the Dean. As such, I was invited to lead the hiring committee for the new Center Director. As the time, I was unaware how much this decision to hire a director with an ambitious vision for the future of the Center would also greatly impact my development as a mid-career scholar. Serving as a TSEC Associate Director has allowed me the time, professional expectations and supportive community to advance my scholarship, scale up my scholarly impact, and grow as a leader in various stakeholder communities.

I served as a TSEC Associate Director for three years, Fall 2020 until Spring 2023. In this administrative position, I received a 3 Workload Unit reassignment each semester allowing me the time for deep thinking and dedicated commitment to research and professional development. In collaboration with the center leaders, I negotiated clear professional expectations that held me accountable and pushed me to envision my best possible self. I became plugged into a diverse community of undergraduate students, graduate students, post-doctoral scholars, staff, and faculty that allowed me to network with a variety of stakeholders across the University campus.

During this time, my primary professional goals were to increase the amount of external funding I had to support my scholarship and to develop as a leader across multiple professional units. Through TSEC’s support, I was able to build meaningful collaborations with the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, other Discipline-Based Education Researchers, as well as faculty in the College of Basic and Applied Sciences interested in integrating STEM Education into their external funding applications. I am currently PI on two National Science Foundation grants totaling close to $1.5 million dollars. Through participation in TSEC’s leadership development sessions, as well as gaining opportunities to serve as a leader on TSEC research and outreach initiatives, I have gained the confidence, skill sets, and habits of mind to serve as an innovator across my department, college, and professional networks.”

CBAS Professor

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Tennessee STEM Education Center
820 Fairview Avenue
Fairview Building, Suite 102
MTSU Box #82
Murfreesboro, TN 37132