Hidden STEM was conceptualized and created by two faculty members of the Wake Forest University Engineering Department. The idea for the project came from a desire to instill a "sense of belonging" in STEM into underrepresented students.
Dr. Lauren Lowman and Dr. Erin Henslee lead the Hidden STEM initiative. Initial support for the project comes from the Kern Family Foundation's Engineering Unleashed Fellows program. As founding faculty members of the WFU Engineering Department, they have designed and implemented 12 new courses across all 4 years of the major curriculum. They have collectively secured over $2M in external funding to support both field-specific research and curriculum development work.
Dr. Erin Henslee is a Founding Faculty and Assistant Professor of Engineering at Wake Forest University. Her research spans biomedical engineering, e-sports, and STEM education. Prior to joining Wake Forest she was a Researcher Development Officer at the University of Surrey where she supported Early Career Researchers as well as published in researcher support. She received her BS degrees in Engineering Science and Mechanics and Mathematics from Virginia Tech, her MS degree in Biomedical Engineering from the joint program between Virginia Tech and Wake Forest University, and her PhD in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Surrey. She has a graduate certificate in Teaching and Learning and is a fellow of the Higher Education Academy. She is a passionate teacher with 13 years of higher education teaching experience. She has received a 2020 Engineering Unleashed Fellowship from the Kern Family Foundation to support this work and is looking forward to an NSF funded project on developing inclusive Making/Makerspace curriculum.
Meet the team
This project is supported by a number of faculty, student, and other collaborators.
Julia Powers is a student at Wake Forest University pursuing majors in Engineering and Studio Art. She was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. Driven by creativity and a passion for research, she has contributed and worked on projects such as microalgal photosynthetic optimization for biofuels, radiofrequency ablation of nerve cells for pain management, and, currently, dielectrophoresis used to characterize cells. As for her artwork, two of her notable pieces reside in the downtown Wake Forest University building. One of which is an impressionist work of Henrietta Lacks and the other is of red blood cell cultures. She loves painting and drawing and hopes that her art can make a difference and an impact on people’s lives.
Erin Stephens is a communications specialist based in Charleston, South Carolina. For two and half years she developed integrated communications strategy, graphic designs, reported stories, and multimedia content as the Communications & Event Coordinator for Wake Forest University’s Office of Sustainability. Since then, she has helped launch the Let’s Talk About Water international film festival and short film competition at the Global Institute for Water Security. Erin received the 2018 Bynum G. Shaw Prize in Journalism from Wake Forest, where she graduated in the same year with a BA in Communication and minors in Journalism and Entrepreneurship. In all that she does, she leverages her editorial skillset with her passion for people to create meaningful spaces for connection — whether that be through storytelling or celebratory events.
Christina Michelis is a student at Wake Forest University with a major in Engineering and a double minor in Economics and Mathematics. She grew up in Bergen County, New Jersey. Christina has worked on a variety of research projects such as prototyping a bioswale to mitigate the effects of E.coli and phosphorous in stormwater runoff and using Arduino Uno to test the relationships between the heart's rate and electrical activity when in a high-pressure situation. Christina is very excited and motivated to work with the HiddenStem team to research and promote minorities in the STEM field.
Kristen Hilal, Social Media Coordinator
Kristen is a sophomore at Wake Forest University pursuing a major in Engineering, and minors in Entrepreneurship and Mathematics. She is from Oakton, VA. Kristen has always been interested in STEM and sharing her passion with others. She does this through various activities on campus, such as The Society of Women Engineers, and Friends in STEM. Kristen is thrilled to be working with HiddenSTEM to promote inclusivity and divertsity to others.
Work with us
We are always seeking new collaborations to expand the impact of this initiative.