STEM-Trek Education Adviser Diane Baxter is Associate Director for Education at the University of California, San Diego’s Supercomputer Center (SDSC), where she leads education, outreach, and training (EOT) programs that introduce students, researchers, and educators to high-performance and data-intensive computing tools that fuel discovery in computational science and engineering. With the growing importance of data-intensive computing across disciplines, SDSC’s EOT programs are expanding beyond traditional STEM fields to introduce teachers and students to the foundation principles and practices of computing; essential knowledge and skills for all to succeed in the rapidly evolving digital global economy.
As SDSC’s EOT leader within national networks of high performance computing centers that serve the academic research community (TeraGrid then XSEDE) her roles have primarily focused on understanding audiences’ needs. She is principal investigator for an NSF-supported program entitled Computing Principles for All Students’ Success (ComPASS). On a 2011 NSF Task Force on Cyberlearning and Workforce Development, she chaired a sub-committee on K-14, Informal and Lifelong Learning. Prior to working for SDSC, Baxter was Education Curator at the Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography for nearly 15 years. She led the team that published an interdisciplinary curriculum for 4th through 12th grade students that explored evidence from multiple research fields, asking HOW scientists know what they claim. Students learned tools and techniques practiced by scientists to gather and analyze data, and through hands-on exploration, gained evidence-based insights about global climate change.
Previous roles include Development and Education Director for the Pfleger Institute of Environmental Research (PIER), a small independent environmental research lab and Development Director for the San Diego Botanic Garden where she was instrumental in launching the “Seeds of Wonder Children’s Garden” which introduced young children to the safe outdoor exploration of nature. “Seeds of Wonder” was the pilot for a much larger Hamilton Children’s Garden.
Baxter has a Zoology PhD (Botany minor) from Duke University in North Carolina. An abiding passion for broadening participation in STEM fueled her career, and led to involvement as STEM-Trek’s education adviser.