ETSU welcomes Director of the Center of Excellence in STEM Education

Published 10:23 am Friday, June 24, 2022

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JOHNSON CITY — East Tennessee State University’s Clemmer College has announced that Dr. Alissa A. Lange will serve as the new director of the Center of Excellence in STEM Education (CESE). She will assume her position on July 1.

Established in 2005 and previously known as the Center of Excellence in Math and Science Education, the CESE is a collaborative partnership between Clemmer College, the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Business and Technology with the goal of improving the quality of life in the Appalachian Highlands and beyond by further fostering and maintaining the excellence of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education in the community. The CESE achieves this through the recruitment and support of STEM-oriented educators, the facilitation of STEM-focused research initiatives, by engaging in partnerships with regional leaders and more. The CESE is also the lead of the Northeast Tennessee STEM Innovation Hub, funded by the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network.

As director, Lange will be responsible for acting as liaison between the interdepartmental and interinstitutional work towards STEM literacy, spearhead the efforts to identify the needs and common interests of those in the community, as well as encourage the development of new grants and research.

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“We are so pleased to have Dr. Lange take on this important work for ETSU,” said ETSU Provost and Senior Vice President for Academics Dr. Kimberly D. McCorkle. “She is a strong scholar and leader who will advance our work in STEM education and meet critical regional needs through a collaborative approach.”

Lange received her Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of California in Santa Barbara before earning her Ph.D. at Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland in applied developmental psychology with a focus on technology, reading and education. She served as a U.S. Department of Education Institute of Educational Sciences Postdoctoral Fellow in early math education at the University at Buffalo, and a U.S. Fulbright Scholar to Colombia. Lange’s current line of research focuses on professional learning, pre-service teacher preparation, program and curriculum development, evaluation in early childhood STEM and integrated STEM education.

Known internationally for her expertise, she has assisted in securing over $3 million in grant and contract funding dedicated to STEM education. Additionally, as a prominent researcher, her work is featured in nearly 100 publications that include 10 journal articles, eight practitioner articles and a book published by Teachers College Press titled, Teaching STEM in the Preschool Classroom: Exploring Big Ideas with 3- to 5-Year-Olds. She has been sought out as an advisor by notable organizations such as the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine and the National Science Foundation. In 2021, she was selected as one of two new writers for the Early Years Column in the journal Science & Children, published by the National Science Teachers Association.

“I am thrilled to work with local and regional stakeholders as the director of CESE and the Northeast Tennessee STEM Innovation Hub to identify priorities and to provide support in STEM teaching and learning across the region,” said Lange. “I will be meeting with organizations and individuals who are already doing wonderful work for the people of our region, to look for ways that we may create new connections and to think innovatively.”

Prior to being selected as the director of the CESE, Lange began her career with ETSU as an assistant professor in Early Childhood Education before progressing towards an associate professor position in the program, and an interim chair. She is also the director of the Early Childhood STEM Lab at ETSU, which houses a group of educators and researchers dedicated to improving the quality of STEM teaching and learning for young children.

“In the coming year, I will cultivate and continue to build on the existing strong relationships and programs that have fueled the Center for years. I aim to raise the profile of the CESE and our Northeast Tennessee STEM Innovation Hub even further, to increase our impact by involving more educators and industry partners, collaborating across organizations and disciplines in new ways and by seeking grants and contracts that support programming to enhance equity in STEM education,” said Lange. “It is my hope that our children coming through the PK-12 and higher education systems will see a pathway to viable and rewarding careers built on a strong STEM foundation; one that is grounded in the strengths of the people in our region.”

To learn more about the CESE, contact Lange at or call (423) 439-7322.