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Tennessee STEM Education Center

Partner with TSEC

Faculty Partners

The Associate Director & Faculty Fellow Program at TSEC

TSEC is fortunate to have formal partnerships with faculty across STEM education on campus.  One of the ways we achieve these partnerships is through the Associate Director and Faculty Fellow programs.

TSEC welcomes any permanent, full-time faculty member, from any academic unit, with a demonstrated commitment to the mission of the Center (i.e., to improve K-20 STEM education both locally and nationally by identifying and addressing critical issues that promote access, equity, innovation, and leadership).

Currently on staff we have the following faculty participating as part-time Faculty Partners at TSEC: Chaney Mosley, Agriculture; Heather Green, MTeach.

Previous TSEC Faculty Partners: Sarah Bleiler-Baxter, Mathematical Sciences; Grant Gardner, Biology; Ying Jin, Psychology. 

“Our primary objective is to expand the scope and reach of TSEC’s mission in both research and service by providing leadership positions for energetic, visionary faculty to work collaboratively across departmental, college, and institutional contexts on efforts consistent with their professional expertise and interests”

Why become a TSEC Associate Director or Faculty Fellow?

A comprehensive description of the reasons a faculty member may wish to participate is detailed below, including the categories of Time, Salary, Expectations, and Community.

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

Associate Director vs. Faculty Fellow

The following table outlines the expected workload and contributions of Associate Director and Faculty Fellow Positions.

TSEC AppointmentExpected WorkloadExpected Contribution
Associate Director3 WU per semester (Fall, Spring, Summer)Leadership in TSEC community
Faculty Fellow0.5 – 2.5 WU per semester (Fall, Spring)Participation in TSEC community

How to become a TSEC Associate Director or Faculty Fellow?

Currently, the 2023-2024 application window is closed.  Please contact Greg Rushton about additional opportunities to partner with TSEC.

*If interested, please review the ‘Invitation to Apply’ document, as it offers additional program information.

  1. Letters of commitment from your department chair, acknowledging that the proposed work is consistent with the faculty member’s expressed professional development and allowable under current workload policies. 
  2. A narrative limited to a maximum of four pages in which you:
    1. Discuss an issue or issues in STEM education that you will take a leadership role in addressing and how you plan on executing your plan through your time in the Center. 
    2. Identify expected partners, collaborators, and audiences that will be recruited or impacted by your work. 
    3. Identify internal and external funding sources that will be pursued in support of your proposed activities.  

           3. An updated copy of your CV, highlighting activities, positions, and accomplishments related to the anticipated area of leadership in TSEC.

  1. Letters of commitment from your department chair, acknowledging that the proposed work is consistent with the faculty member’s expressed professional development and allowable under current workload policies. A predicted workload in the range of 0.5 – 2.5 WU for each semester.
  2. A narrative limited to a maximum of two pages in which you:
    1. Discuss an issue or issues in STEM education that you would like to learn more about through your time in the Center, and describe how being a part of the community in TSEC could help support your knowledge/skill development.
    2. Identify expected partners, collaborators, and audiences that will be recruited or impacted by your work. 

          3. An updated copy of your CV, highlighting activities, positions, and accomplishments related to the anticipated area of participation in TSEC.

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If you are interested in learning more about this program, please contact Greg Rushton for more information.

Contact Us


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