Walter G. Secada
By Barbara Gutierrez
The committee will provide advice on space science-related programs
CORAL GABLES, Fla. (March 16, 2016)—Walter G. Secada, professor and senior associate dean of the School of Education and Human Development, has been appointed to the NASA Advisory Council Science Committee, becoming the first holder of a new seat on the committee designated for STEM education.
“As a childhood immigrant, I see it as an honor to be asked to serve my country in any capacity,” said Secada of the two-year appointment. “However, this particular appointment has that overlay of cool that is beyond the wildest dreams of that high school geek who watched the moon landing on black-and-white TV.”
The Science Committee provides advice on all of NASA’s earth and space science-related programs, projects, activities, and facilities in the areas of earth science, planetary science, astrophysics, and heliophysics. The 15 committee members are leading authorities with relevant expertise drawn from academia, industry, and government agencies, as well as independent researchers.
“Dr. Secada is a leader in STEM education who brings a unique combination of research and practical insights that will provide people of all ages educational and professional access to NASA scientific disciplines,” said Kristen Erickson, director of science engagement and partnerships at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C.
The son of Peruvian parents, Secada graduated from Miami’s Curley High School and later left the area to earn a B.A. in philosophy (magna cum laude) from the University of Notre Dame and a Master of Science in Mathematics and a Ph.D. in education from Northwestern University.
“It is a great honor for the University of Miami to have one of our best and brightest determining the future of STEM education in a special role at NASA,” said Thomas J. LeBlanc, executive vice president and provost. “We could not be prouder.”
Isaac Prilleltensky, dean of the School of Education and Human Development, echoed that sentiment, adding, “Dr. Secada sets an example for us all through his outstanding commitment to excellence in research, teaching, and service.”
Since joining the UM faculty in the fall of 2003, Secada has been associate director and co-principal investigator of the study Promoting Science among English Language Learners (P-SELL) with a High-Stakes Testing Environment, a National Science Foundation-funded, quasi-experimental study on effective science instruction for Haitian Creole- or Spanish-speaking third- through fifth-graders.
He has served as associate director and co-PI of Science Made Sensible, another NSF-funded fellowship training program that pairs doctoral students in the STEM fields with middle-school teachers, and director and PI of Language in Mathematics, an Institute of Education Sciences-funded research and development project intended to create a professional development intervention to help fourth- through eighth-grade teachers better facilitate mathematics for their English-language learners.
Secada also has served as chair of the Department of Teaching and Learning at UM and as a member of the University’s Social Sciences Institutional Review Board.