Holly Plank

PhD Candidate Holly Plank Awarded STEM Fellowship

Holly Plank

Holly Plank, a PhD candidate at the University of Pittsburgh School of Education, was selected for one of 15 highly competitive annual fellowships with the Community for Advancing Discovery Research in Education (CADRE), a resource network for STEM education researchers supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The CADRE Fellows program, now in its 14th year, provides capacity-building and networking opportunities for researchers in the early stages of their STEM education careers. Fellows include doctoral students and postdocs of varied backgrounds and research interests who have a shared commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice in preK-12 STEM education.

Plank is pursuing her PhD in Learning Sciences and Policy at Pitt Education. Her research supports pre-service and in-service STEM teachers in designing and implementing curricula that integrate computational thinking and environmental justice. Her goal is to empower youth who are historically underrepresented in computer science.

“Our pre-service teachers possess the potential to lead, transform our educational system, and empower the next generation of changemakers,” says Plank. “I firmly believe that our youth, equipped with computational thinking skills, can harness the power of computing and data science to drive innovation, foster collaboration, and tackle the most urgent challenges faced by our world today.”

As a Pitt Education student, Plank is an instructor in the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program and works with her advisor, Cassie Quigley, an associate professor and the chair of the Department of Teaching, Learning, and Leading, on projects that focus on integrating computational thinking practices with justice-centered content within third to eighth-grade classrooms.

“I have been incredibly fortunate to learn from and collaborate with Dr. Quigley on various projects as part of an ongoing research-practice partnership,” says Plank. “In my role in Pitt Education’s MAT program, I am excited to continue to incorporate pedagogical strategies derived from our research. Guiding and supporting pre-service science and mathematics teachers brings me immense joy.”

As a CADRE Fellow, Plank will explore career pathways, research dissemination and use, community building and collaboration, and research funding. Experiences will include peer mentoring, a mock proposal review led by an NSF program director, and collaboration with other fellows on a career-development project.

“I am deeply appreciative of this invaluable opportunity to learn from exceptional scholars who place diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice at the core of preK-12 STEM educational research nationwide,” says Plank.

As part of the fellowship, Plank attended the 2023 Discovery Research PreK-12 PI Meeting in Arlington, Virginia, from June 28-30, 2023. At the meeting, she presented her work, engaged in discussions with NSF program directors and principal investigators, and gained insight into the NSF proposal review process.

“These multifaceted opportunities greatly contribute to our growth as scholars and enhance our understanding of the dynamic landscape of research and funding in STEM education,” says Plank.

Learn More

Plank is a candidate in the PhD in Learning Sciences and Policy program, which produces nationally competitive research scholars who have the training, track record, and vision to become leaders in understanding and promoting educational change. Learn more about our PhD programs.