SCIS Event

Distinguished Women Lecture Series

Engineering for Humanity: A Broader View of Broader Impacts

Date / Time:

Sep. 18, 2015 @ 02:00 pm


Florida International University
MARC: Pavilion


Dr. Yvette Pearson Weatherton
National Science Foundation
Division of Undergraduate Education/Directorate for Education and Human Resources

Dr. Yvette Pearson Weatherton


The National Science Foundation (NSF) was established with a mission "to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense, ..." The agency has established merit review principles and criteria by which all proposals are vetted to ensure NSF-sponsored projects and activities are aligned with this mission. The two merit review criteria are intellectual merit, which "encompasses the potential to advance knowledge," and broader impacts, which "encompasses the potential to benefit society and contribute to the achievement of specific, desired societal outcomes." Both criteria are equally important.

While principal investigators (PIs) generally emphasize the intellectual merit criterion, a large fraction struggles with the potential broader impacts of their projects. The lecture will address three areas of broader impacts - public welfare, broadening participation, and increasing public interest in and awareness of science and engineering - from the perspective of engineering for humanity. Examples will be drawn from the speaker's personal experiences as a PI, a program officer, and an individual who identifies with three groups that are typically underrepresented in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines.


Dr. Yvette Pearson Weatherton is Associate Chair of the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Texas at Arlington. She holds a B.S. in Civil Engineering and an M.S. in Environmental Chemistry from Southern University, a Ph.D. in Engineering and Applied Sciences from the University of New Orleans, and is a registered Professional Engineer in the State of Louisiana. Currently an Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) appointee, Dr. Pearson Weatherton is a Program Director in the Division of Undergraduate Education at the National Science Foundation where she manages a large and diverse portfolio of awards geared toward Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education and workforce development. Prior to assuming this role, she provided leadership in acquiring funding for and administering numerous projects focused on improving recruitment, retention, and graduation of STEM majors. One of her key focus areas is broadening the participation of students from underrepresented groups - minorities, females and persons with disabilities - in STEM education and careers. Identifying with all three of these groups, Dr. Pearson Weatherton offers a unique perspective shaped by her experiences as an engineering student and professional.

Dr. Pearson Weatherton is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), where she has served in a number of leadership roles. Most recently, she was appointed as a member of the society's Committee on Sustainability, a member of the Formal Engineering Education Subcommittee of the Committee on Sustainability, a Corresponding Member of the Committee on Diversity and Inclusion, and to represent the organization as a Program Evaluator (PEV) for ABET.

Her accomplishments in engineering education and research have been recognized through several honors and awards. Dr. Pearson Weatherton has been invited to Oxford University twice (2007 and 2012) to speak about her work, most recently presenting the results of her research team's efforts to infuse various engineering curricula with sustainability. In 2013, she was ranked among the top 25 women professors in the State of Texas and she received the University of Texas Board of Regents' Outstanding Teaching Award, which is the highest teaching award in the University of Texas System. Dr. Pearson Weatherton also received the 2010 and 2012 UT Arlington Provost's Award for Excellence in Teaching, a 2009 UT Arlington College of Engineering Research Excellence Award, Southern University's Most Outstanding Civil Engineering Faculty Member (five years), and Southern University's 2003 College of Engineering Teacher of the Year Award.