College of Education and Human Development
New Endowed Professorship Advances STEM Education
June 12, 2017
The College of Education and Human Development at George Mason University is pleased to announce the appointment of Erin Peters-Burton, PhD as the Donna R. and David E. Sterling Endowed Professor in Science Education. This new endowed professor position within the College of Education and Human Development at George Mason University is supported by a generous gift from the Sterling family that will provide resources to advance STEM education in Virginia’s K-12 schools as well as nationally.
Dr. Donna R. Sterling, who passed away in 2014, was a Professor of Science Education in Mason’s College of Education and Human Development for more than 20 years. Dr. Sterling was also one of only eight Mason faculty members named a Distinguished Service Professor. She was a highly respected and admired member of the faculty and an international leader in STEM education. In 2010, Dr. Sterling was awarded a five-year "Investing in Innovation" program grant from the U.S. Department of Education to form and support the Virginia Initiative for Science Teaching and Achievement (VISTA). VISTA was the largest federal grant ever received by the university and is among the largest U.S. federal research grants focused on STEM education that have ever been awarded.
"Donna’s desire was to continue the leadership of George Mason University in the area of science education through innovative research to broaden the base of ‘hands-on’ science application throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia," said Mr. David Sterling in a statement.
"We are thrilled that Donna’s legacy will continue to move science education forward in the Commonwealth and beyond," said Dr. Mark R. Ginsberg, Dean and Professor of Mason’s College of Education and Human Development. "The partnerships this new position cultivates will have a significant impact in our region as well as nationally and internationally. We will have the opportunity to advance innovative and contemporary approaches in science education. The professional development opportunities that are supported for educators will promote active teaching practices that will help to make learning in the STEM fields fun, exciting, and successful."
Dr. Erin Peters-Burton is Associate Professor of Education in Mason’s College of Education and Human Development. She is a graduate of the college’s doctoral program in education and studied under Dr. Sterling. She was named the inaugural Donna R. and David E. Sterling Endowed Professor in Science Education after an extensive national search. Originally trained as an engineer, Dr. Peters-Burton joined the faculty of the College of Education and Human Development at George Mason University in 2007 after a 15-year middle and high school teaching career. Immediately prior to her appointment to the Mason faculty, Dr. Peters-Burton completed a fellowship as an Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow at NASA’s Washington, DC headquarters where she was assigned to their Exploration Systems Mission Directorate. While at Mason, Dr. Peters-Burton has held roles in the College of Education and Human Development’s administration. She currently serves as the Division Director of the Educational Psychology, Research Methods, and Educational Policy Division and as the Academic Program Coordinator for Educational Psychology program.
"It’s an amazing opportunity," said Dr. Peters-Burton. "The culture at George Mason University is entrepreneurial, and this position gives me the chance to build a community and resources to help STEM education in different ways. I’m looking forward to developing innovative and creative new approaches to teaching science and partnerships that promote student learning, development, and success."