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Keynote Presentations

Zakiya Willson-Kennedy

Learning and Belonging in the AI Revolution

July 10, 3:00 - 4:00 PM EST

Session Materials

Advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are disrupting higher education. Tools such as ChatGPT have the capacity to improve productivity and require higher-order reasoning for effective use. As the U.S. higher education system grapples with its response to AI innovations, it is also navigating calls for equity-based approaches that address the underrepresentation of women and individuals from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines, dwindling college enrollments, strategies for propagating high-impact practices, inclusive teaching, culture wars, and much more. All of these challenges are impacting how students are learning in the college spaces and developing skills to compete in a global economy. This interactive section will feature a case study of a first-year intervention designed to foster belonging among science and math majors and consider the implications of the AI revolution on the intervention.


Dr. Zakiya Wilson-Kennedy is an Associate Professor in Chemistry Education and Assistant Dean for Diversity and Inclusion in the College of Science at Louisiana State University. Her research focuses on implementing mentoring models that integrate the theories of identity development, empowerment, social cognitive career theory, and community cultural wealth to create and test development structures that cultivate self-efficacy and agency. In particular, Dr. Wilson-Kennedy's work focuses on groups historically underrepresented in STEM, focusing on faculty and student recruitment, retention, and success. 

Dr. Wilson-Kennedy's work is displayed in over 50 peer-reviewed journal articles. Her most recent publications discussing DEI and women of color in chemistry education can be found in the Journal of Chemical Education and the Journal of Science Education and Technology. She also has work published around topics of mentoring and broadening STEM communities. Dr. Wilson-Kennedy recently started the Chemistry Education Research and Practice (CERP) group at LSU which focuses on JEDI (justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion) systemic changes, and understanding the effects of inclusive pedagogical and mentoring strategies across STEM communities. 

As a recently elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) (2021),  Dr. Wilson-Kennedy has also been honored with the Winifred Burks-Houch Professional Leadership award (2019), the Henry C McBay Outstanding Educator Award (2014), the ACS Stanley C. Israel Regional Award for Advancing Diversity in the Chemical Sciences (2011), Woman of Color STEM Achievement Award for Promotion of Education at the Collegiate Level (2011), the National Administrator Role Model Award from Minority Access, Inc. (2009),  and the LSU Outstanding Staff Award (2009). 


Brett Woods

Fixed vs Growth Mindset and Why the Biggest Challenge May be Faculty

July 14, 2023

Session Materials

Less than one third of underrepresented minority students planning to earn a STEM degree will complete their STEM degree within six years. Attrition from undergraduate STEM programs, rather than a lack of recruitment, interest or incoming academic credentials, largely accounts for the disproportionately low representation of minority students with STEM degrees. It is essential for educators, administrators, and institutions to implement practices that ensure the success of all students, especially as student populations become increasingly diverse.  In an effort to increase URM retention in STEM, a program was created to address known barriers to URM success.  Program participants showed significantly higher pass rates in two STEM courses and significantly increased retention rates to year two compared to non-participant underrepresented minority students. Participants performed similarly or better than non-underrepresented minority students, supporting the program’s effectiveness in reducing or eliminating the achievement gap.  In this presentation, I focus on the mentoring aspects of the program and effective strategies that address habits of mind, implicit bias and student perspectives.  Specifically, strategies faculty should employ to provide an environment that addresses challenges associated with being a URM student and thus increase URM retention in STEM.


Dr. Brett Woods is the new Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs and the Dean of the College for Salem College. This new role follows after he served as the Interim Dean of the Wanek School of Natural Sciences, Director of Pre Health Advising, Chair of the Biology Department, and Associate Professor at High Point University.

As a scientist, professor, and academic administrator, Dr. Woods is creating programs to increase inclusivity, student retention, and student success in higher education. In 2018, Dr. Woods received the HPU Think Big Grant which helped him build a pre-college summer workshop that would prepare underrepresented and minority students to succeed upon completing a STEM degree. Through his own experiences as an undergraduate student, Dr. Woods quickly found the importance of having a mentor who cared and was willing to guide him through his studies and research. His connections made it important for this program to also be a way for students to connect with other faculty members and support their futures. 

Dr. Woods completed his bachelor's in biology from the University of California, Berkeley, and later received his Ph.D. in biology from the University of Kansas. In 2014, Dr. Woods received the University of Wisconsin Systems Regents Diversity Award during his time teaching at the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater, Beloit College.