Julie Cwikla, Ph.D.

Julie Cwikla, Ph.D.

Dr. Julie Cwikla (“Swick-la”) serves as the Director of Creativity & Innovation in STEM, in the Office of the Vice President for Research at the University of Southern Mississippi. She is also serving as Interim Director for the Center for Science and Mathematics Education.

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.

Julie 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.  She is also the 2019 Ada Lovelace STEM Educator.

Dr. Julie Cwikla 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.  

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