2024 Gordon Cain Conference

This conference will focus on the value and use of historical biographies in contemporary STEM and social studies education. Organized by Cain Conference Fellow Sibrina Collins, participants will explore how sharing the stories of diverse scientists can help young girls and people of color see themselves as valuable contributors to the field, historically and in the future.

Contact biographies@sciencehistory.org with any questions about this event.

Conference Organizer

Sibrina N. Collins received a BA in chemistry with honors from Wayne State University and a PhD in inorganic chemistry from The Ohio State University. From July 2016 until January 2023 Collins served as founding executive director of the Marburger STEM Center on the campus of Lawrence Technological University. Beginning January 2023, she was appointed as Executive Director of STEM Education for the College of Arts and Sciences (CoAS) at Lawrence Tech. In 2018 she received the Real McCoy Award in Science from the Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program (DAPCEP) for her leadership and public engagement efforts in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education. Her research efforts include inorganic chemistry, chemical education, history of chemistry, and addressing inclusion and equity in the STEM fields.

Collins is an active member of the American Chemical Society (ACS), serving as an Associate Member on the National Historic Chemical Landmark (NHCL) Subcommittee. She has published in ACS journals including Inorganic Chemistry, the Bulletin for the History of Chemistry, and the Journal of Chemical Education. She served as editor of the ACS Symposium Series Volume 1381 entitled African American Chemists: Academia, Industry and Social Entrepreneurship. She has authored a book chapter in the ACS Symposium Series Volume 1370 entitled “Inorganic Chemistry: Vibranium and Marvel Studios’ Black Panther,” and “Critical Mass Takes Courage: Diversity in the Chemical Sciences” published in the ACS Symposium Series Volume 1256. In 2020, Collins’s career pathway was featured in the “Career Ladder” spotlight published by Chemical & Engineering News.

Conference Program

Monday, July 15

9–10amOpening RemarksSibrina N. Collins (Lawrence Technological University)
Sharon Haynie (DuPont, Retired)
Elisabeth Berry Drago and Alexis J. Pedrick (Science History Institute)
10:15am–12:15pmSession 1
Storytelling “How-Tos”
Creating Compelling Science Stories by Adding the Human Element
Ainissa Ramirez
Enhancing the Connectivity Between Primary Biographical Scholarship and the Storytellers Who Rely on that Information for their Lectures
Jeffrey I. Seeman
‘Should the History of Science Be Rated X?’ Revisited: Scientific Biography and Identity in the Post-DEI Classroom
Megan Raby
The Tales We Tell: Historical Biographies in STEM
Edward R. Landa
1:30–3pmOption A

Teachers Workshop
Bringing Scientists Back to Life in the Classroom 
Doreva Belfiore, Helaine Blumenthal, Mary Mark Ockerbloom, Kathy Thrush Shaginaw
1:30–3pmOption B

Session 2
Biographies Celebrating Women in Science
Modeling STEM Careers for Women in PreK‐2: The Role of Picture Book Biographies
Michael Geselowitz, Emily Schneider
Designing Space for Light: Women’s Early Contributions to the Observation of Cosmic Events
Madison Cook
Sharing Scientific Stories in a General Education Seminar Course
Carrigan J. Hayes
3:30–5pmSession 3
Storytelling and Standards
Strategies for Using the History of Science to Teach Content and the Nature of Science
David W. Rudge
Using the History of Gregor Mendel to Teach the Nature of Science and Genetics Content
Cody Williams
Introducing Women Naturalists to Diversify a Biology Curriculum and Strengthen Its Teaching of Biodiversity
Joel Cohen

Tuesday, July 16

9:15–11:30amOption A

Teachers Workshop
The Scientist Spotlights Initiative: Teaching Science Content through Curricular Supplements that Feature Stories of Counter-Stereotypical Scientists and Engage Students with Written Reflections 
Lucy M. C. Luong
9:15–11:30amOption B

Session 4
Biographies in Comparative Perspective
Training Black Students for STEM His Way: The History of a Pioneering Science Educator
Shari Earnest Watkins, Melvin Webb
Between Silence, Memory, and Postmemory: The Accounts of Shoah and Migration of the Polish Jewish Female Psychoanalysts in the United States 
Klara Naszkowska
Reinforcing Stereotypes with Gendered Narratives: The Case of Agnes Pockels
Brigitte Van Tiggelen
11:30am–12:15pmMuseum Tour
1–2:30pmSession 5
Storytelling Media
TikToking Historical Biography in an Asian History Classroom
Shu Wan
Integrating History in Teaching Organic Chemistry
Paul Orbe
Who Is a Scientist? Pushing Boundaries in STEM through Oral History
Matt Lorenz, Shuko Tamao
3–4:20pmSession 6
Key Texts and Their Authors
Betty Wood: Bell Labs Pioneer with Stories to Tell
Margaret E. Schott
Connecting the Archival Dots: Reimagining Course Construction Across the Social Sciences
Jasmine Noelle Yarish
Using Dissertations to Help Students Uncover the Stories of Women of Color in Psychology History
Michelle Ceynar, Jon Grahe, Rihana S. Mason
4:30–5pmWrap Up and Next Steps

About the Gordon Cain Conference

The Gordon Cain Conference is a gathering of scholars in the history of science and related fields. Each conference is organized by an eminent scholar who works with staff to develop a theme of broad contemporary relevance. Centered on a topic chosen by the conference organizer, the conference consists of an evening public lecture, a symposium, and a collected volume. It is hosted by the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center for the History of Chemistry and supported by a generous gift from Gordon Cain.

Featured Image: Photograph of Dr. Bettye Washington Greene (1935-1995), Dow Chemical Company.

iCollins, S.N. The importance of storytelling in chemical education. Nature Chemistry. 13, 1–2 (2021).

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