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Learn More About CRISTAL


To advance the university's efforts to recruit, retain, and prepare the next generation of STEM researchers, educators, and industry professionals.


To help prepare students with quantitative reasoning, critical thinking, and analytical skills relevant for the 21st century STEM workforce.


The Center for Research and Innovation in STEM Teaching and Learning (CRISTAL) was developed as a concept in 2009 when the leadership of the University of Memphis decided to markedly strengthen its focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education. An interdisciplinary steering committee assessed current programs, courses, and activities in order to make recommendations that would increase K-20 interest and pursuit of STEM careers.

In 2012, CRISTAL received university funding to provide staff and basic resources. Dr. Peter Bridson, Associate Professor of Chemistry, was appointed the new Director, and Dr. Judith Faris, Director of Research Development, was named Associate Director. In October 2012 the University of Memphis was awarded state Race to the Top funding to lead the West Tennessee STEM Hub, one of six STEM hubs across the state. Dr. Stephanie Ivey (Herff College of Engineering) is Principal Investigator and Dr. Alfred Hall (CEHHS) is Director.

In late 2012 and early 2013 two full-time employees were hired (Dr. Cathy Wilson, Associate Director, and Erica Boyce, Administrative Associate II). Consequently, CRISTAL and the STEM Hub have developed in tandem. The STEM Hub addresses STEM education needs for K-12 across West Tennessee, while CRISTAL, as the umbrella organization, extends support to include K-20 needs. Both the STEM Hub and CRISTAL have worked closely to develop a richer understanding of STEM education, identify resources for K-20 and provide professional development for teachers and faculty.

We believe STEM is not just an acronym for content knowledge in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, but refers to a philosophy of teaching and learning leading to graduates with quantitative reasoning, critical thinking, and analytical skills relevant for the 21st century workforce.

Goals and Activities

Goal 1: To provide coordination and support for educational initiatives in STEM at the U of M.

  • Identifying grant opportunities and coordinating interdisciplinary participation in pursuing them
  • Seeking STEM internship opportunities with community partners
  • Identifying research opportunities for undergraduates
  • Identifying and supporting models and programs for mentoring and tutoring STEM students
  • Assisting in the recruitment of local and regional students into STEM disciplines
  • Identifying funding sources for STEM education projects
  • Coordinate Tennessee Math Teachers Association Math Regional Competition (
  • Disseminate STEM information, events and opportunities across campus and throughout community

Goal 2: To serve as an umbrella organization to facilitate and promote STEM education initiatives at the U of M

  • Connect faculty with university resources for the reform of classroom instruction
  • Connect faculty and projects on campus with partners in local and regional industries
  • Identify and coordinate professional development in STEM education for STEM faculty
  • Promote and support STEM education grant programs (STEM Hub, STEM Platform Schools, TLSAMP, STEM TRiO, MemphiSTEM, S-STEM
  • Provide a point of contact between local and regional school districts and the U of M for K-12 STEM education initiatives
  • Assist in developing and implementing bridge activities to increase K-12 student interest in pursuing STEM majors at the U of M
  • Develop a STEM student data base with information on affiliations with various programs for grants development and faculty information
  • Provide funding and administrative support for the University of Memphis Math Bootcamp (Previously under MemphiSTEM)

Goal 3: To support and foster collaboration among Arts and Sciences, Engineering, and Education faculty

  • Develop and implement professional development for K-12 teachers locally and regionally
  • Assist in the dissemination of STEM-integrated curriculum resources (at the U of M) to K-12 teachers
  • Explore the potential for dual enrollment STEM online courses for rural districts
  • Organize university resources to enhance U of M student success in STEM courses (consultation, teaching fellows, tutoring, mentoring, etc.)
  • Provide pre-award and administrative support for grants

209 Dunn Hall
The University of Memphis
Memphis, TN 38152
Phone: (901) 678-1303

Peter K. Bridson, Ph.D.
Phone: (901) 678-4423

Associate Director
Education & Non-Profit
Judith A. Faris, Ed.D.
Phone: (901) 678-4911

Associate Director
Corporate Partnerships:
Catherine Wilson, Ed.D.
Phone: (901) 678-3418

Administrative Associate:
Erica M. Boyce
Phone: (901) 678-1303

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Last Updated: 10/30/14