Dr. Steve Turley -NSF Program Officer

Dr. Steve Turley’s passion for undergraduate education is well-known. He was honored to share this passion on a national level while he was appointed an NSF Program Officer in the Division of Undergraduate Education from January 2018 to December 2019. Turley spent much of his time setting up reviews of grant proposals. He organized the review panels, trained the reviewers, conducted the reviews, and made recommendations about which grants should be funded. He also trained researchers on how to write better proposals. One new program that Turley organized involved distributing a $10million donation to the NSF from Boeing to improve engineering education. Turley engaged in significant discussion with Boeing to understand their goal. He then wrote to solicitation—the call for proposals—and conducted the review process. Another reason Turley said his time at NSF was a great experience was because of the collaborative environment. He enjoyed collaborating with leaders in Physics Education Research (PER). He also worked with colleagues in other areas of education. This interdisciplinary work often focused on assisting under-represented groups. Turley said that these discussions across disciplines “are very important to learn from a wide variety of people.” He was delighted to meet interesting colleagues and have deep conversations about the best work in the field. He said it was “kind of like a continuous two-year conference.” Turley also was on the committee for national policies on the direction of science education. Education to improve student readiness in quantum information was one of their priorities. Turley enjoyed these opportunities and said it was “fun to think about the big picture of where science education is heading and what we need to be doing to get to the new frontiers.” Turley returned to BYU in January 2020. He was happy to be able to share what he had learned about writing good proposals. He has consulted with colleagues and given workshops on the college level and to the research accounting department. He also shared his knowledge with the students as he taught the department’s Advanced Writing class in both Winter Semester 2020 and 2021. (It was also his great idea to have those students work in groups to draft news stories, which is why you will now see “Student contributors” at the end of most of the news stories.) We are grateful for Dr. Turley’s willingness to devote the time and energy needed to be an NSF Program Officer and for sharing with us what he learned.

(by Traci Neilsen)