PEWS recently had the privilege of learning about Dr. Whitney Gaskins‘ work as a Professor at the University of Cincinnati and as an advocate for underrepresented groups in STEM, especially for Black communities, women, L.G.B.T.Q.+, veterans, and people with varying abilities.
Extensive Background in Engineering and Education
Dr. Gaskins decided to become a biomedical engineer while the field was still very new. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering, her Masters of Business Administration in Quantitative Analysis and her Doctorate of Philosophy in Biomedical Engineering/Engineering Education from the University of Cincinnati. Her passion for the advocacy for underrepresented groups came from the lack of Black women like her in the STEM classes she was in.
Associate Dean at the University of Cincinnati
Dr. Gaskins is the Associate Dean of Inclusive Excellence and Community Engagement in the University of Cincinnati College of Engineering and Applied Science. She started as the Inaugural Assistant Dean of the office in 2018. She is the only African-American female currently teaching in the faculty of the College of Engineering. During her time as an Associate Dean, Dr. Gaskins has revamped the Summer STEM Bridge Program to increase student support and retention. The Summer Bridge Program is a seven-week residential program where scholars participate in a series of student success activities and programs that enhances their academic preparedness for their freshman year. Dr. Gaskins also developed and strengthened partnerships within local area school districts to aid in the transition between high school and college. She serves as the Principal Investigator for the Choose Ohio First Program (COF), that awards scholarships to colleges and universities in Ohio to support students in innovative academic programs. She also serves as the Principal Investigator for Ohio LSAMP grants, which assist universities and colleges in their efforts to significantly increase the numbers of students matriculating into and successfully completing degree programs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines to diversify the STEM workforce.
Dr. Gaskins founded a non-profit organization called The Gaskins Foundation in 2009. The mission of the foundation is to provide extraordinary opportunities for under-recognized and under-represented youth. The foundation provides youth with the resources at various stages of their academic and creative careers. Additionally, the foundation offers comprehensive programs to help develop and foster the skill sets that are needed to accomplish a brighter future.
The main program of the Gaskins Foundation is STEMulates. This community centered program is designed to increase the number of engineers and applied scientists in the Cincinnati area over the next 20 years. As part of this, the foundation also recently launched the Cincinnati STEMulates year round K-12 program. This program is free of charge program and is aimed to introduce more students to Math and Science.
Dr. Gaskins has created Empowering Parents in Churches in Creating STEMulation (EPICC STEMulation). The goal of this community-focused program is to provide STEM learning opportunities for underrepresented youth in a space where the students and their families feel comfortable i.e., their local churches. EPICC equips church leaders and parents with the tools to deliver STEM content contextualized in the lived experiences. EPICC STEMulation community centric approach is growing the number of Black students and parents engaging with STEM. The program is currently being conducted in Columbus, Cincinnati and Indianapolis. Additionally, The EPICC STEMulation video has won Best video for the American Society of Engineering Education Community Engagement Division and Bronze Award at the Anthem Awards.
In July, Dr. Gaskins released her second video in her series for young girls in STEM, Roadmap to STEM. The video was premiered at the Cincinnati Museum Center. Watch the trailer here.
Dr. Gaskins published her fourth children’s book called The Great American Eclipse about the solar eclipse that is expected in 2024. With this book, she aims to help parents teach about the eclipse to their children and provide a way for both, the parents and children, to experience the eclipse together.