Meet the Southeast Hub

The TAPDINTO-STEM Alliance Southeast Hub builds upon two prior NSF-funded alliances: The South East Alliance for Persons with Disabilities in STEM (SEAPD-STEM) was funded in 2016 as an NSF INCLUDES design and development launch pilot project. SEAPD-STEM was made up of 21 institutions of higher education throughout the southeastern United States and Washington D.C. SEAPD-STEM was formed as an expansion of the Alabama Alliance for Students with Disabilities in STEM (AASD-STEM), funded as an NSF RDE (Research in Disabilities Education) project funded in 2009. AASD-STEM involved five colleges and universities in east-central Alabama: Auburn University, Auburn University Montgomery, Alabama State University, Tuskegee University, and Southern Union State Community College. The goals of AASD-STEM and SEAPD-STEM were to increase the number of students with disabilities completing associate, undergraduate, and graduate degrees in STEM disciplines and entering STEM graduate degree programs or the STEM workforce; increase the number of high school students with disabilities going to college; enhance communication and collaboration among post-secondary institutions, industry, government, national labs and community to address the education of students with disabilities in STEM; and assessing activities to understand what works to support the matriculation and retention of STEM students with disabilities.

As part of the TAPDINTO-STEM Alliance, the Southeast Hub will participate in activities including peer and faculty mentoring, research opportunities, internships, conferences/meetings, networking, and student stipends. The South East Hub will also lead a research study that investigates the relationship between student background experiences and dispositions (e.g., student demographics, family background, motivation, academic efficacy) and persistence. The study will also examine the relationships between organizational context factors and student experiences in the areas of commitment, persistence, and academic retention.

See our research

Dr. Overtoun Jenda serves as Assistant Provost for Special Projects and Initiatives and Professor of Mathematics at Auburn University. He previously served as Associate Provost for Diversity and Multicultural Affairs and Associate Dean of the College of Sciences and Mathematics at Auburn University.

Dr. Jenda has been the Principal Investigator and Project Director for numerous US National Science Foundation grants focusing on STEM education, including the US-Africa Collaborative Research Network in Mathematical Sciences, Masamu Advanced Study Institute and Research Workshops, Research Experience for Undergraduates in Algebra and Discrete Mathematics, Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) program, Alabama Alliance for Students with Disabilities in STEM, INCLUDES South East Alliance for Persons with Disabilities in STEM (SEAPD-STEM), INCLUDES The Alliance for Students with Disabilities for Inclusion, Networking, and Transition Opportunities in STEM (TAPDINTO-STEM), MAKERS Scholarships in STEM, GK-12 Fellows in Science and Mathematics for East Alabama Schools, Alabama Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate, and the LSAMP Bridge to the Doctorate program.

Prior to coming to Auburn, Dr. Jenda was a faculty member at the University of Kentucky, University of Botswana, and University of Malawi. Dr. Jenda received a PhD and MA in Mathematics from the University of Kentucky and a BS in Mathematics (with Distinction) from the University of Malawi. His area of research is Homological Algebra, and he has published three graduate and research level books and numerous research articles in this area. He has also published several research articles in STEM Education.


Overtoun Jenda
Overtoun Jenda
Southeast Hub Leader


auburn university logo
Auburn University
  • Dr. Overtoun Jenda, Assistant Provost and Professor of Mathematics, Office of Special Projects and Initiatives (OSPI), AU, will serve as a STEM faculty mentor, CLI , and PI/Project Director.
  • Dr. Daniela Marghitu, Faculty Coordinator, Computer and Software Engineering Department, Auburn University, will serve as Co-PI and Associate Director responsible for Capacity Building and as a STEM faculty mentor.
  • Dr. Brittany McCullough, Program Analyst, OSPI, Auburn University, will serve as Co-PI and Associate Director responsible for planning, assessment, and dissemination.
  • Dr. David Shannon, Distinguished Professor in educational research and evaluation at AU, will serve as Co-PI and Social Science Researcher for the Alliance, and will also head the Southeast Hub Research Study.
  • Dr. Caroline Dunn, Distinguished Professor, Department of Special Education, Rehabilitation, and Counseling, will serve as Outreach Coordinator responsible for transition to STEM workforce activities.
  • Keri Hesson, Academic Programs Administrator, OSPI, Auburn University, will serve as Business Manager responsible for budget and subcontracts.
  • Tamara Massey-Garrett, Retired Director of Office of Disability Services, Auburn University Montgomery, will serve as the Project Manager responsible for organizing and directing Alliance activities.
  • Coordinator responsible for public relations and development, Advisory Board meetings, and other program support – January 2022 start date.

    auburn university montgomery logo
    Auburn University at Montgomery
    • Dr. Glen Ray, Professor of Psychology and Department Chair, will be the CLI.
    • A Faculty Mentor, to be identified, will serve as STEM faculty mentor and mentor AUM students with a start date of January 2022.

      asu logo; decorative
      Alabama State University
      • Dr. Carl Pettis, Provost and Professor of Mathematics, will serve as CLI, co-PI, and Associate Director for Alliance Expansion.
      • Dr. Michelle Foster, Interim Chair and Associate Professor of Mathematics, will serve as STEM faculty mentor.

        columbus state university
        Columbus State University
        • Dr. Monica Frazier, Biology Professor & Chair, will serve as STEM faculty mentor and CLI
        • Eric Avant, Program Coordinator, will serve as campus Co-Lead.

          middle tennessee state logo
          Middle Tennessee State University
          • Dr. Sarah Bleiler-Baxter, Associate Professor of Mathematics, will serve as Campus Lead and STEM faculty mentor.
          • Dr. Chaney W. Mosley, Assistant Professor of Agricultural Education, will serve as Campus Co-Lead and STEM faculty mentor.

            middle tennessee state logo
            Southern Union State Community College
            • Steve Owen, Biology Instructor and Chair, will serve as STEM faculty mentor and CLI.
            • Jeremy Taunton, Coordinator/Academic Advisor and Adjunct Instructor, will assist CLI in coordinating Alliance activities on campus.

              troy u logo
              Troy University
              • Dr. Zhiyong Wang, Associate Professor of Chemistry, will serve as STEM faculty mentor and CLI.
              • Dr. Govind Menon, Director, School of Science and Technology, Chair, Department of Chemistry and Physics, and Professor of Physics, will serve as STEM faculty mentor.

                tuskege logo
                Tuskegee University
                • Dr. Mohammed Qazi, Associate Dean and Professor of Mathematics, will serve as STEM faculty mentor, CLI, and Special Adviser responsible for implementing the Bridge Model across the Alliance.

                  tennesse logo
                  The University of Tennesee Knoxville
                  • Dr. Suzanne Lenhart, Chancellor’s Professor of Mathematics and Associate Director for Education and Diversity, National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS), will serve as STEM faculty mentor and CLI.
                  • Dr. Christopher Strickland, Assistant Professor of Mathematics and Ecology & Evolutionary, will serve as STEM faculty mentor.