Hughes Named 2018 Cottrell Scholar

Meredith Hughes

Meredith Hughes

Meredith Hughes, assistant professor of astronomy, assistant professor of integrative sciences, has been named a Cottrell Scholar for 2018 by the Research Corporation for Science Advancement (RCSA).

Hughes is one of two dozen early career academic scientists to receive this honor, which comes with a $100,000 award for research and teaching.

“The Cottrell Scholar (CS) program champions the very best early career teacher-scholars in chemistry, physics and astronomy by providing these significant discretionary awards,” said RCSA President and CEO Daniel Linzer.

Linzer added the program is designed to foster synergy among faculty at major American research universities and primarily undergraduate institutions.

Cottrell Scholars engage in an annual networking event, providing them an opportunity to share insights and expertise through the Cottrell Scholar Collaborative. This year’s Cottrell Scholar Conference will be held July 11-13 in Tucson, Ariz., and is expected to draw about 100 top educators from around the U.S.

Hughes said she intends to use the award to support her research group’s work on understanding how planets form around other stars, as well as to support a new course to be offered next fall through the College of Integrative Sciences.

“It will be a half-credit seminar on Equity and Inclusion in STEM that will include an overview of a lot of the material relevant to understanding the problem of why some groups are underrepresented in STEM (everything from the data on demographics, to social science research on topics like implicit bias and stereotype threat, to information on best practices that have been compiled by different minority groups, and a bit of historical context on social justice movements operating within STEM fields),” she said.

The seminar also will include a practical component aimed at supporting the development of initiatives to improve access to STEM majors at Wesleyan. As part of the course, students will be required to write and evaluate proposals to improve STEM equity at Wesleyan, and some of the funding from the award will be available to support the highest-rated proposals.

“My goal in developing this course is to help support the awesome efforts of students across the campus involved in initiatives like the NSM coalition, WesWIS, SUSS, WesMaSS, and other groups by providing a new source of academic credit and funding for the hard work they are already doing,” she said.