Faculty and Staff

Dr. Sharon Locke, Project Director

Sharon Locke

Sharon Locke is Associate Professor and Director of the STEM Center. Before joining SIUE, Dr. Locke served two years as Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa, where, in addition to her guidance in funding of STEM projects, she assisted in science teacher training. From 2006 to 2008 she was a program director and cluster coordinator in the Division of Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings at the National Science Foundation. Her NSF program responsibilities included Academies for Young Scientists, Advanced Technological Education, Discovery Research K-12, Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers, Innovation through Institutional Integration, and International Polar Year. Dr. Locke has been Principal Investigator for programs to support increased participation of students with disabilities in science, including Earth System Science Works (NSF) and Access Earth (NASA), both based at the University of Southern Maine. From 2003-2006 she was a Distinguished Speaker of the National Association of Geoscience Teachers. Dr. Locke received a Ph.D. in geosciences from the University of Minnesota.


Dr. Jessica DeSpain, Curriculum Director and Digital Humanities Specialist

Jessica DeSpain

After completing a Bachelor's degree in Liberal Arts and Secondary Education, Dr. Jessica DeSpain obtained her Ph.D. in English at the University of Iowa and a certificate in book studies. She is now an associate professor in the department of English Language and Literature and the Co-Director of SIUE's Digital Humanities Center,  IRIS. Dr. DeSpain specializes in the fields of digital humanities, book history, and transatlantic studies. At SIUE she teaches courses from the freshman to graduate levels with a wide range of topics, including: book history; the cultural perception of monsters; Charles Dickens's influence on contemporary steam punk literature; the poetry of Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman; technology and literature; and food sustainability. She is the lead editor of The Wide, Wide World Digital Edition, a project that explores how books were changed to attract transatlantic audiences using editions of the nineteenth-century bestselling American novel, Susan Warner's The Wide, Wide World. Her book Nineteenth-Century Transatlantic Reprinting and the Embodied Book, was published with Ashgate Publishing in 2014. 


Dr. Liza Cummings, Parent and District Liason

Liza Cummings

 Dr. Liza Cummings is currently an Assistant Professor in the School of Education, Health, and Human Behavior at Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville, Illinois (SIUE). She earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Mathematics from the University of Missouri in Saint Louis, Missouri, Master of Arts Degrees in Teaching and Educational Administration from Lindenwood University in Saint Charles, Missouri, and a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Mathematics Education from the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri. Dr. Cummings has been with SIUE for five years and has mostly taught the mathematics methods courses for pre-service elementary and secondary education majors. She has been a part of several grants (NOYCE, ITEST, Race to the Top III, InTEL) to assist teacher preparation as well as student learning. Among her myriad service opportunities, Dr. Cummings is the Director of the Mathematics Homework Hotline at SIUE. Prior to joining SIUE, Dr. Cummings devoted eleven years to the Saint Louis Public Schools in Saint Louis, Missouri as a secondary mathematics teacher in which she taught and tutored students in mathematics and facilitated many discussions around mathematics. She strives to be a voice for underrepresented students, and she believes that equity is central in educating students in mathematics education.


Georgia Bracey, Researcher


 Georgia Bracey is a research associate at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s Center for STEM Research, Education, & Outreach where she conducts STEM education research and assists with program evaluation and implementation. She is also an experienced elementary teacher, having spent 13 years teaching 5th grade in the south Chicago suburbs. In addition to a BA in Elementary Education, she has an MS in Physics and is currently a doctoral candidate in the College of Education at the University of Missouri – St. Louis.


Matthew Johnson, Instructional Designer and Community Outreach Director

Matthew Johnson

 Matt attended the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and received his BS in Integrative Biology. He then attended Southern Illinois University Edwardsville to finish his Masters of Arts in Teaching degree. From there, Matt taught math and science at the SIUE East Saint Louis Charter High School for four years. During that time, Matt also worked for the SIUE STEM Center on several projects including designing and implementing Biology, Astronomy, and Forensics curricula. Matt currently works at the STEM Center as an instructional design and curriculum specialist. Matthew is also the project's Community Outreach Director. He may be contacted at mattjoh@siue.edu, or (618) 650-3454, if you have ideas about how the project might interact with the community.



Dr. Howard Rambsy, Specialist in Black Studies and Literary History and Culture

Howard Rambsy

 Dr. Howard Rambsy has taught a wide range of American and African American literature courses, and he has coordinated more than 200 public humanities projects concentrating on African American poetry, culture, and history. Dr. Rambsy has coordinated several learning projects for secondary school students in Edwardsville and East St. Louis.




 Dr. Jeff Manuel, Specialist in Midwestern History, Public History

Jeff Manuel

 Dr. Jeff Manuel is an associate professor in the Department of Historical Studies. He specializes in the history of technology, oral history, and public history. He has extensive experience using oral history and public history in community settings, including coordinating the Lincoln Place Community Oral History Project in Granite City, Illinois. He has also served as digital producer for the CUSP Project, a community history project that digitally displayed objects of historical significance.




 Mallory Maves, Graduate Assistant

Mallory Maves

 Mallory Maves is a Graduate Assistant for SIUE Center for STEM Research where she assists with project management, student recruitment and research involving the assessment and evaluation of the program. Mallory has presented her own research at multiple Midwestern conferences and has roots within Industrial Organizational Psychology.



 Adebanke Loveth Adebayo, Graduate Assistant

Adebanke Loveth Adebayo

Adebanke Loveth Adebayo is a Graduate Assistant for both the Centre for STEM Research Education Outreach and the SIUE Lovejoy Library where she assists with Public Relations and teaches freshmen use of Library alongside other related duties respectively. She had worked with telecommunications, government parastatals, volunteered for middle and high schools, earned international professional certifications in CompTIA Project+, HSE, MOS Professional, Certified e-Business Professional, HRM London Academy Business School, etc. before coming to the United States in 2015. She received her Bachelors in Arts Degree In English Literature from Babcock University in Nigeria and is currently double majoring in Applied Communication and English Literature for her Masters Program. She seeks to complete her exit project in digital humanities by mapping indigenous Nigerian languages and collecting folktales using Google map.


 Sudha Madhuri Arvapally, Graduate Assistant

Sudha Madhuri Arvapally

Sudha Madhuri Arvapally is a Graduate Assistant at center for STEM Research and Digital Humanities Center, IRIS, SIUE. She is pursuing her Masters in Computer Science at SIUE and earned a Bachelors degree in Computer Science in India and has 3.5 years of experience in IT industry. Her role majorly involves in website management, Preparing technical tutorials for students and provide IT support. Her hobbies are watching movies,cooking and involving in cultural activities, volunteering in MUC events at SIUE.