Chemistry Education, Challenged Stereotypes Covered at Annual Faculty Research Celebration

Colleen Locke | May 13, 2014
Hannah Sevian, C. Eduardo Siqueira, and Shirley Tang with Provost Winston Langley and Chancellor J. Keith Motley

Hannah Sevian, C. Eduardo Siqueira, and Shirley Tang with Provost Winston Langley and Chancellor J. Keith Motley
Image by: Harry Brett

This is one of many examples that shows why our students’s digital stories are impossible to ignore.

Topics Included Research Exchange to Brazil, Influence of Green Chemistry on Learning, and Digital Storytelling

Associate Professor of Chemistry Hannah Sevian makes chemistry accessible to more students and teachers more effective in the classroom. Associate Professor of Asian American Studies Shirley Tang looks at how students are contributing to the knowledge economy. And Associate Professor of Community Development and Planning C. Eduardo Siqueira works with students in the U.S. and Brazil to research impacts on health, safety, and families.

The three faculty members all spoke about their community-engaged scholarship, fitting the theme “Made in Boston, Ready for the World,” at the university’s annual Faculty Research Celebration last week.

“This kind of research--these kinds of partnerships--are what this great university is all about at the core of what it means to study and work here at the University of Massachusetts Boston,” Chancellor J. Keith Motley said. “What helps our students helps our community members, what helps our community members helps us, and what helps us helps our students.“

Sevian talked about how she has become a chemistry education researcher and why she works to make chemistry relevant. She and one of her students looked at the influence of green chemistry on learning in a high school setting, and what happens when labs are swapped out for greener labs one at a time.

“It gives students a sense of why they’re learning what they’re learning, and there’s that relevance. It helped them improve their experimental design skills to do green chemistry and do more inquiry-oriented chemistry than in a traditional lab,” Sevian said.

Sevian also shared the work she’s done for the last two years bringing chemistry teachers and researchers together, designing tools that can be used for assessment.

Tang’s presentation was on “Co-producer Knowledge and Student Success.” For the last ten years, Tang’s students have engaged in digital storytelling, and through their stories, they are challenging Asian stereotypes.

“Our students have created stories on missing parents and family separation due to war, sickness, and low-wage work, which directly challenges mainstream research and policy studies that stereotypically link Asian American educational achievement in part to intact two-parent family structures, high family expectations, and robust family networks of influence and support,” Tang said. “This is one of many examples that shows why our students’s digital stories are impossible to ignore and how our larger project of co-producer knowledge is vital.”

Siqueira spoke about the Transnational Brazilian Project—an exchange of information and research between UMass Boston students and faculty, volunteers at the Brazilian Immigration Center, and Brazilian doctoral students who have spent time at the Mauricio Gastón Institute of Latino Community Development and Public Service. For example, psychology doctoral student Fernanda Lucchese, an international Brazilian student, did field work in Brazil and Elton Francisco, a doctoral student at the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (UFSC) in Brazil, is staying at UMass Boston through August to interview Brazilian immigrant families.

The Friends of the Joseph P. Healey Library sponsored the annual research celebration. The Office of Community Partnerships assembled the panel. Both Sevian and Tang received funding from the Civic Engagement Scholars Initiative (CESI) to incorporate aspects of civic engagement into their undergraduate courses.

About UMass Boston
Recognized for its innovative research addressing complex issues, the University of Massachusetts Boston, metropolitan Boston’s only public university, offers its diverse student population both an intimate learning environment and the rich experience of a great American city. UMass Boston’s 11 colleges and graduate schools serve 16,000 students while engaging local, national, and international constituents through academic programs, research centers, and public service activities. To learn more about UMass Boston, visit

Tags: community , faculty , research

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