Julie Cwikla, PhD

Director of Creativity & Innovation in STEM at the University of Southern Mississippi, housed in the Office of the Vice President for Research. The mission of her work is to investigate questions of national and international significance, by bringing research funds into the region to benefit and improve STEM learning opportunities.


Dr. Cwikla holds a doctoral degree in Mathematics Education, with a minor in Applied Mathematics from the University of Delaware and studied under the direction of Dr. James Hiebert.  She also holds a master’s degree in Applied Mathematics from New York University’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences and a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and Chemistry from Fairfield University. Julie has been awarded over $12 million dollars in external funds to support her ongoing research in STEM education and research from the National Science Foundation, the Department of Education, NASA, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, among others. 

 First ever iD8 Hackathon for African-American girls at USM -  Click and Watch

First ever iD8 Hackathon for African-American girls at USM - Click and Watch

 TEDxJacksonWomen 2016 -  Math Stories Make a Difference -  Click and Watch. 

TEDxJacksonWomen 2016 - Math Stories Make a Difference - Click and Watch. 

Julie is a 2003 National Science Foundation Early CAREER Award Recipient. In 2005 she founded Project WetKids with funding from the National Science Foundation and continues to serve as its Director. NASA supported her transdisciplinary project for high school students called Pioneering Mars.  And the experiments designed by the students will be replicated at the International Space Station in 2017. She also leads an NSF funded program for women in STEM, Gulf Coast ADVANCE supporting scientists along the Gulf Coast in Mississippi and Alabama. 

In 2015 she was invited by the National Academy of Science to share her transdisciplinary research on early mathematics learning, cognition, and development as part of the White House Workshop series. The Kellogg Foundation just awarded Cwikla a $900,000 grant in Nov 2016 to support the research and development of mathematics e-stories for young learners. 

Julie served as Assistant, Associate, and Full Professor in both the Department of Mathematics and the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at USM from 2001-2012. She also served as founding Director of CISSTEM - The Center for Integrative Studies in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics at the University of South Alabama from 2012-2014 before returning to the University of Southern Mississippi

She has designed, led, and studied professional learning for mathematics faculty in higher education, directed out-of-school interdisciplinary STEM programs for middle school students and their families, examined very young children's intuitive understanding of fraction concepts, studied teachers' use of handheld technology in STEM classes, designed interdisciplinary lessons for middle and high school classrooms, developed an educational research program to help organize and align undergraduate programs in engineering, and studied growing algae on Mars with support from NASA.

The author of over 30 publications, including book chapters, journal articles, monographs, and technical reports with national publishers and professional journals in mathematics education, STEM education, and teacher education, Julie has made more than 60 presentations at international and national conferences.  

Over the past decade she has also provided professional development courses and workshops for STEM educators K-16 in five different states. She serves as a reviewer for multiple education journals and national organizations such as the American Educational Research Association, the National Science Foundation, and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.


Specialities: Mathematics Education, Interdisciplinary STEM Education, Teacher Learning, Professional Development, Conceptual Learning and Sense Making, Mixed Methods Research, Research Design, Consulting, Mentoring, and Public Speaking.