e-STEAM Leaders

Summer 2017 Issue

Feature Story

e-STEAMed Leaders

Alumnae, faculty and staff are paving the way in the  sciences, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics fields.

by Stockton Now Staff

Story Photo


Sharing a Passion for Science

Meghan Hooper-Jackson
Meghan Hooper-Jackson
After receiving a degree in environmental science and management, Meghan Hooper-Jackson ’14 worked as a wetland biologist for an environmental consulting firm in Florida for five years before deciding that she needed a career change.

“I absolutely loved the days when I was in the field and experiencing the natural environment, but at the end of the day my job was to advocate for clients that did not have the environment in their best interest. I found myself feeling quite unfulfilled,” Hooper-Jackson explained. “As I started to consider a career change, I saw teaching as a way to make a real impact.”

She turned to Stockton to continue her studies in Elementary Education.

Hooper-Jackson has worked for Hamilton Township School District since 2016, and currently teaches seventh grade science at William Davies Middle School. “As a science teacher, I can now share my passion for science with my students and show them how amazing our planet is,” she explained.

Hooper-Jackson also presents at American Association of University Women’s (AAUW) programs held at Stockton. This summer, she will teach water conservation and wetland protection at Tech Trek, a weeklong STEM camp for girls.

“I love that I get to be a part of AAUW activities geared towards bridging the gender gap in STEAM fields,” she said. 

— Meaghan Haugh Resta

CSI of Speech

Amee Shah
Amee Shah 
Growing up in Bombay, India, Amee Shah heard hundreds of dialects and grew curious as to what changes were made in speech to create these different languages.

Shah, who speaks seven languages, was intrigued by the technical aspects of speech science, including measurements and visual representations of spectrograms. She pursued dual undergraduate degrees in Speech Pathology and Audiology, and a master’s degree in Linguistics from Bombay University; two master’s degrees and a Ph.D. from City University of New York; and a post-doctorate from McGill University in Montreal.
At Stockton, Shah is associate professor of Health Science and principal investigator at the Cross-Cultural Speech, Language & Acoustics Lab. She is working with students in the lab to research speech science, language and accents. The researchers are also fusing art and technology to make the science more interactive and creative.

“We are using forensic speech science, graphic arts and hand drawings to develop apps and books that can help students understand accents; quit smoking; measure fitness levels for athletes; and help singers use optimal pitch and vocal mechanisms. We are also incorporating theatre techniques, such as miming and acting, to develop interactive presentations for middle and high schoolers,” Shah said. 

— Christina Butterfield ’09

Connecting Youth to STEM

Dawn Watkins
Dawn Watkins
Raising a teenage boy as a single mom can be a full-time job in itself, but that doesn’t stop Dawn Watkins from volunteering her time to several youth STEM initiatives outside of her role as a professional services specialist in Stockton’s School of Social & Behavioral Sciences.

Last year, Watkins wanted her son Ennis to gain hands-on STEM experience to better prepare him for college and a career. Watkins became inspired to make STEM programs accessible to all young men and women in Cumberland County.

She networked with officials from the City of Bridgeton and Stockton, which resulted in an environmental research partnership course. Watkins was also instrumental in connecting girls from Cumberland County to Stockton’s teen STEM workshops; Bridgeton youth to Stockton’s CSI camp; and a Vineland High School senior to the Science Enrichment Academy at Stockton program.

Recently, Watkins has garnered support for the Carver Early College High School Initiative, which allows seniors to graduate with a diploma and associate’s degree from Cumberland County College.

Watkins sits on several community boards; served as a Youth Empowerment Summit panelist; and is a member of the American Association of University Women.

“I’m doing everything I can to prepare [my son] for success,” said Watkins, who presented at AAUW’s Teentech in May at Stockton. “Hopefully my work within the community will help provide success to all young people of Cumberland County.” 

— Christina Butterfield ’09

Blending Art & Math Through Origami

Norma Boakes
Norma Boakes
When a young Norma Boakes showed interest in her father’s architecture work, her curiosity was encouraged.

Boakes remembers helping her dad doctor floor plans, using an architect’s scale and calculating multiple units of measure by hand. Her keen interest in mathematics sustained throughout her schooling, and Boakes later found herself in male-dominated collegiate math classes as she studied to become a teacher.

Boakes, now an associate professor of Mathematics at Stockton, taught herself origami as a way to make math “touchable” and “experiential.” She saw students grasp abstract concepts, and has been using origami as a teaching tool ever since.

In her Art & Math of Origami course, Boakes blends the quantitative skills required in math with the spatial capacities used in art.

“Math is inherent in the process of folding,” Boakes said of Origami, the art of paper folding. “The paper works similarly to Legos, and designs are known for their expansive and weight-bearing properties.”

She says the practical applications are endless and include existing origami design concepts for airbags, satellites, robotics and medical stents.

“I’ve been integrating STEM and art my entire academic career,” Boakes said. “The stigma of being a woman in the field isn’t there like it was before. That has definitely changed, and it’s a good shift to see.”

— Christina Butterfield ’09

Career Advice from e-STEAMed Alumnae

Dina BowerBelieve in yourself, don’t be afraid to try something new, and value the supportive people in your life. My career has had many twists and turns, and there were times when I had to reach out for help along the way. When I started out as an undergraduate at Stockton, I thought I would become a marine scientist, and now here I am at NASA looking for signs of life on the surface of Mars. All along the way I trusted myself and was always open to whatever was around the corner. Work with integrity and stay curious!”

— Dr. Dina M. Bower ’03 Geology/Marine Sciences, Research Scientist NASA Goddard Space Flight Center


Kayleigh SenaFirst - go for it! The STEM fields can be very intimidating for many reasons, but they can open the doors to so many amazing opportunities. Many of the STEM fields are male dominated, which can be off-putting to young girls, but what they can use more of are strong, intelligent females. My career in environmental science has enriched my life and is extremely rewarding. If you have a passion for solving technical issues and making a real difference in the world’s problems, then fields in STEM are a path to help you succeed in life and tap into your full potential.”

— Kayleigh Sena ’10, Marathon Engineering Environmental Scientist


Catherine RosenbergDon’t be afraid to follow your dreams with math and science. I almost missed my calling to follow these dreams, and I’m glad I truly found it and love it so much.”

— Catherine Rosenberg ’08 /MS ’15, doctoral student at the Center for Computational & Integrative Biology