2014 Archives

New Caruth Institute STEM Initiatives director to bridge engineering and education

Leanne Ketterlin-Geller aims to increase student interest in science, technology, engineering and math

Leanne Ketterlin Geller
Leanne Ketterlin-Geller

October 27, 2014

DALLAS (SMU) – Leanne Ketterlin-Geller has been appointed director of K-12 STEM Initiatives for SMU’s Caruth Institute for Engineering Education – a cross-disciplinary appointment that takes full advantage of SMU’s strengths in the Lyle School of Engineering, home to the Caruth Institute, and in the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development. 

Ketterlin-Geller will be working very closely with Delores Etter, executive director of the Caruth Institute and TI Distinguished Chair in Engineering Education, as well as other faculty members from both schools to advance the K-12 STEM initiatives of the Institute. 

Ketterlin-Geller is associate professor of education policy and leadership and director of research in the Simmons School’s Research in Mathematics Education unit. She is an expert in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education, and her research is focused on mathematics education through instructional leadership principles and practices.  Ketterlin-Geller’s new position will include working with the Caruth Institute’s Infinity Project, developing partnerships with area schools, working with Lyle engineering programs geared toward middle and high school students, and working with departments and faculty members to match their engineering expertise to K-12 outreach opportunities.

“Professor Ketterlin-Geller’s extensive experience as a leader in STEM and K-12 education will bring much needed expertise in addressing the critical mission of the Caruth Institute,” said Delores Etter, executive director of the Caruth Institute.  “Her role within the Simmons School of Education and Human Development will strengthen the necessary collaboration between our two schools.”

“The work that Dr. Ketterlin-Geller will direct is essential to our goal to increase the number and diversity of students with both the enthusiasm and knowledge to pursue the engineering careers that are necessary for the U.S. to compete in a global economy.” said Lyle School of Engineering Dean Marc Christensen. “This appointment demonstrates our commitment to the emerging collaborations between the Simmons School of Education and the Lyle School of Engineering.  We look forward to what we can achieve together.”

“Through these Caruth Institute initiatives students will see the power of math in daily life – and engineering is where we really see this at work,” said Ketterlin-Geller. “We hope to develop engaging and interesting programs for both teachers and students that will help all students develop both confidence and competence in STEM fields. This collaboration presents an exciting opportunity to work across disciplines to help foster innovation in K-12 STEM education.”

Ketterlin-Geller has served as principal investigator for federal, state, and locally funded research grants emphasizing the development of instructional materials and formative assessment procedures in mathematics, as well as valid decision-making systems in the general education curriculum for students with diverse needs.  Much of her research  is focused on supporting algebra readiness in elementary and middle school mathematics.  She works closely with teachers and administrators to understand the application of measurement and assessment principles for making decisions in school settings. She publishes and delivers presentations on mathematics education, measurement and assessment as well as special education.

Ketterlin-Geller and Simmons School Dean David Chard are part of the national research team working on the George W. Bush Institute‘s education initiative, Middle School Matters.

Ketterlin-Geller’s research is informed by her experience teaching high school science and through her training as a K-12 administrator. In addition to teaching advanced placement, college-preparatory, and general science courses, she designed and taught science classes for culturally and linguistically diverse students. Ketterlin-Geller also served as a coordinator for the AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) program that provides encouragement and academic support for college-bound students from typically underrepresented populations.

Prior to joining the faculty at SMU, Ketterlin-Geller was an assistant professor focusing on applied measurement in the Department of Educational Methodology, Policy, and Leadership at the University of Oregon.


SMU is a nationally ranked private university in Dallas founded 100 years ago. Today, SMU enrolls nearly 11,000 students who benefit from the academic opportunities and international reach of seven degree-granting schools.

SMU’s Bobby Lyle School of Engineering, founded in 1925, is one of the oldest engineering schools in the Southwest. The school offers eight undergraduate and 28 graduate programs, including masters and doctoral degrees.