Lauren Birney, EdD

Creating opportunities for underrepresented students and women is the primary focus of my research,” Lauren Birney, EdD, told us. She’s an associate professor of STEM education, and she’s been putting her experience to incredible use. Birney is co-leading a powerhouse group of collaborators to build upon the New York Harbor School’s project to put science into the hands (quite literally) of middle school students in low-income neighborhoods with high populations of English language learners and students from groups underrepresented in STEM. “I was so very fortunate to be surrounded by incredibly talented professors, teachers, and mentors,” she explained. “I just want to do the same.”

Birney has been hard at work developing the curriculum used by teachers at the New York Harbor School to teach children about the importance of restoring the oyster beds in New York Harbor through the Billion Oyster Project. “The harbor is like a living laboratory for education in STEM,” said Birney. “We want to give students the opportunity to learn outside the school building and benefit enormously from an increased awareness about their ecological place.” Along with other students, teachers, scientists, volunteers, businesses, and local organizations, Birney is at the forefront of efforts to reestablish New York as the oyster capital of the world—and they recently secured a $2.5 million dollar grant from the NSF. No small feat in the STEM field! “We have been very fortunate and very blessed with the wonderful partners we have on our NSF-funded grants,” she told us.

And she’s working to create even more opportunity, too. Right now, Birney has her eye on obtaining another grant from the STEM Collaboratory NYC Learning Center. “I can’t wait!” She enthused. “This will be an opportunity for STEM industry professionals, scientists, researchers, students, and teachers to come together while creating, designing, constructing, inventing, and initiating STEM innovations.”