We are very excited to announce that Dr. Whitney Bortz has joined Engineering Education as a Postdoctoral Associate. Whitney is working with David Knight on an NSF project entitled “Variation in the awarding and effectiveness of STEM graduate student funding across teaching and research assistantships, fellowships, and traineeships.” In collaboration with Dr. Maura Borrego at The University of Texas at Austin, this project seeks to increase understanding of how various mechanisms of funding, including for example fellowships, research assistantships, and teaching assistantships, influence graduate students’ pursuits of doctorates in STEM and their subsequent employment. The research investigates the organizational decision-making processes, strategies, and internal and external pressures associated with funding graduate students across departments, colleges, institutions, and disciplines.
After earning a B.A. in Humanities from Pepperdine University, Whitney began her career in education as a math teacher in Los Angeles, California. While still teaching,she also earned a Masters in curriculum and instruction, a dual teaching certification in language arts and mathematics, and a certification in educational counseling. Also while teaching, she began working part-time at a research center at UCLA. She developed a passion for research in education, and as a result, pursued a Ph.D. in Education at Queen’s University in Northern Ireland. Her dissertation research, situated in both U.K. and U.S. classrooms, focused on the relationship between teachers’ theories of learning and their practices of assessment. Whitney worked at Radford University for four years as the Director of Assessment in the College of Education. In addition to supporting faculty in their assessment and accreditation efforts, she served as the P.I. for two projects that focused on teacher education and teacher evaluation. She came to Virginia Tech in January of 2016 as a postdoc on a project housed in Computer Science that integrates computational thinking into middle school chemistry classrooms. She continues to spend 50% of her time working on this project while also coming on board as a postdoc on the graduate student funding project in Engineering Education. When not collecting or analyzing data, she enjoys running, either on her own or while chasing her two young daughters.