Tanya Furman

Achieving Women Award 2012

Tanya Furman
Administrator, Professor of Geosciences, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences; Assistant Vice President and Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education

(L to R) Christy Long and Tanya Furman.

Achieving Women – Administrator
The Achieving Women Award winner in the Administrator category is Dr. Tanya Furman.

Dr. Furman is assistant vice president and associate dean for Undergraduate Education; associate director of the Alliance for Education, Science, Engineering and Development in Africa and professor of Geosciences in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. Her professional interests range from the geochemistry of basalts in the East African Rift and in Turkey to improving the state of earth science teaching and learning across the Commonwealth. Among her remarkable achievements is her ability to not only balance but contribute to the advancement of both pedagogy and science.

Dr. Furman’s efforts to support and encourage minority and first-generation student participation in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields have been recognized at the national level with her receipt of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring in 2005 from the National Science Foundation. In addition, she has worked on the development of a national core curriculum in mathematics and is contributing to the new National Research Council standards of learning in science. Her work has also resulted in three successful NSF-funded research projects, the most recent of which is a $9.2 million collaborative effort for the improvement of earth and space science education in Pennsylvania public schools, with a particular focus on under-served rural and urban school districts.

Dr. Furman helped to initiate two very successful diversity programs: the Summer Experience in Earth and Mineral Sciences and its sister program, the Summer Experience in the Eberly College of Science, which enable high school students to participate in a six-week research experience in the laboratories of Penn State science faculty. Over the past ten years, more than 300 first-generation, economically challenged students have participated in these programs, with 100 percent of the students graduating from high school and over 70 percent going on to graduate with four-year B.S. degrees in STEM majors.

Dr. Furman’s work to improve science education was recently recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the National Science Foundation, who have asked her to take a leadership role at the state level promoting K-16 earth science education.

As one of her nominators stated, “I can think of no better demonstration of extraordinary commitment to diversity and equal opportunity than Dr. Furman. As an educator, a scientist and a mentor, Dr. Furman not only enriches the lives of individual students, but helps to foster ‘a culture that views the success of others as a keystone to what it means to be a member of a community’.”