Faculty and Staff
Dr. John O’Haver serves as a professor of Chemical Engineering and Director of the CMSE. John earned his Bachelors and Masters degrees in secondary education from the University of Oklahoma. Dr. O’Haver taught high school mathematics, chemistry, and physics for 12 years prior to earning his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Oklahoma. In 1996, John joined the faculty at the University of Mississippi.
Dr. Alice Steimle serves as the Associate Director of the Center for Mathematics and Science Education. Dr. Steimle has been a part of the CMSE since its inception in December 2006. Alice earned her Associate of Arts degree from Jones County Junior College, her Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from Mississippi College and both her Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in Mathematics from the University of Mississippi. During graduate school, Alice was a graduate research fellow and project manager of the NSF North Mississippi GK-12 and GK-8 projects under the direction of Dr. John O’Haver. It was during that time when Drs. O’Haver and Steimle developed the concept of the CMSE. Dr. Steimle has always had a passion for inspiring students through STEM education. She enjoys seeing the impact of the various programs within the CMSE and looks forward to its continued growth.
Alice resides in Oxford with her husband, Landon, and two children: Andrew and Mary-Claire.
Meredith Sessums joined the Center for Mathematics and Science Education in April 2017 as the Operations Supervisor. As the Operations Supervisor, she coordinates the daily administrative activities throughout the center.
Meredith, of Tupelo, Mississippi, holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Hospitality Management from the University of Mississippi. Since her attendance at the University of Mississippi, Meredith has worked in various local businesses in the hotel and food and beverage industries. She has developed a passion for customer service and helping others achieve their highest potential. She hopes to channel this passion within the CMSE.
Professional Learning Division
Dr. Julie James is the Assistant Director of Professional Learning for the Center for Mathematics and Science Education. Julie began working with the CMSE in 2007 as a member of the first cohort of graduate research fellows. In 2011, she took on the role of Professional Development Coordinator and was promoted to the Assistant Director of Professional Learning in 2018. As the Assistant Director of Professional Learning, she provides leadership for all CMSE learning opportunities for adults. This includes professional development, graduate research fellowships, CMSE-led courses, and undergraduate assistants.
Dr. James earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Secondary Mathematics Education from Mississippi University for Women in 2000. While teaching mathematics at the high school level, she earned her Master of Arts in Teaching degree from Grand Canyon University in 2006 and her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction (Secondary Mathematics Education) from the University of Mississippi in 2011. Her desire is to help teachers feel successful and knowledgeable in the classroom. Her research interests include understanding how exploring mathematical progressions may impact teacher content knowledge.
Dr. Whitney Jackson joined the Center for Mathematics and Science Education in 2018 as the Science Professional Development Coordinator. After graduating from Mississippi College, Whitney taught at Raymond Elementary School in Hinds County. More recently, Whitney taught a mix of science and language arts to middle schoolers at North Pontotoc. After several years of attending a NASA sponsored workshop led by the Center for Mathematics and Science Education (CMSE) at the University of Mississippi, she applied for the graduate fellowship which allowed her to pursue a graduate degree as a full-time student. During this time, Whitney also led professional development sessions both locally and nationally.
Her research interests focus on promoting STEM careers as viable options for Mississippi’s students. Whitney hopes to continue influencing science teachers by creating relevant statewide professional development. She is also interested in developing district-wide science curricula, with a focus on supporting teachers in primary grades.
Sarah Cervantes is the Educational Outreach Specialist for the Center for Mathematics and Science Education. In this role, Sarah coordinates professional development opportunities hosted by the Professional Learning Division, as well as manages the CMSE’s social media presence and advertisements.
Originally from Fort Worth, TX, Sarah received her Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing and Corporate Relations from the University of Mississippi. She has enjoyed being an involved member of both the University and Oxford communities. As an undergraduate, she worked at Mississippi Small Business Development Center as a student intern. Sarah plans to continue her education by pursuing a Master in Business Administration from the University of Mississippi. Sarah is an avid traveler and is eager to continue immersing herself into the rich culture of Mississippi while having the opportunity to empower, inspire, and invest in students across the state. She is exceptionally thrilled to be a part of CMSE as she begins her career.
April Kilpatrick joined the Center for Mathematics and Science Education in December 2009. Since that time, April has served as the Center’s K-12 Outreach Coordinator (2009-2012) and the CMSE’s Research Coordinator (2012-2015). In this role, April serves as a Data Analyst in which she helps collect, analyze, and report internal project/program impact on grant proposals aimed to fund new and current opportunities for the CMSE. In addition, April helps manage and coordinate various grant-funded projects, including the Teachers for a New Tomorrow (TNT) Noyce Scholarship Program that began in 2012.
April received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mathematics from the University of Mississippi and a Master of Science degree in Information Science and Education from Mississippi State University. She resides in Oxford with her husband, Scott, and their three children: Anna Grace, McCala, and Wesley.
Erica Paige Gillentine, Ph.D. joined the Mathematics Department at the University of Mississippi as an Instructional Assistant Professor in August 2013. As a professor, she teaches Mathematics for Elementary Teachers I (MATH 245) & II (MATH 246) and Techniques in Teaching Secondary Mathematics (MATH 390) to education majors. Dr. Gillentine’s office and the classroom where she teaches these courses are located in the Center for Mathematics and Science Education at the Jackson Avenue Center.
Dr. Gillentine is from Booneville, Mississippi and obtained her Ph.D. in Secondary Education with an emphasis in mathematics at the University of Mississippi. While in attendance at the University of Mississippi, Dr. Gillentine worked as a Graduate Research Fellow at the Center for Mathematics and Science Education. Since obtaining her degree, she continues to assist with the events provided by the Professional Learning Division and the K-12 STEM Experience Division within the CMSE
K-12 STEM Experiences Division
Justin Mills joined the Center for Mathematics and Science Education as the Educational Outreach Specialist in 2017 and took on the role of the K-12 STEM Experiences Coordinator a year later. As the K-12 STEM Experiences Coordinator, Justin manages STEM Excursions and Experts, coordinates the Mobile Planetarium Program, and facilitates various state-wide competitions. He also assists with other programs within the STEM Experiences Division.
Justin, a native of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, is a graduate student of the University of Mississippi’s School of Education seeking a Master of Arts in Higher Education Administration. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Mississippi and an Associate of Arts degree from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. Since moving to Oxford, MS, he has developed a passion for the Lafayette-Oxford-University community and hopes to be able to give back by being as active in the community as possible.
Mannie Lowe is currently the FIRST Program Manager for the Center for Mathematics and Science Education at the University of Mississippi. He coordinates the FIRST Tech Challenge program for Mississippi. Mannie has helped grow this program in Mississippi from 4 teams to over 60 since 2012. Mannie is a firm believer in the mission of FIRST® (www.firstinspires.org) and how it can impact students. He has coached and mentored several FIRST Tech Challenge, FIRST Robotics Competition, and FIRST LEGO League teams to award-winning seasons, as well as serving as a resource to many other coaches and mentors throughout the country. In 2016, Mannie was honored as the FIRST Tech Challenge International Volunteer of the Year.
Prior to moving to Mississippi, Mannie was a software engineer and project manager for several companies in the Atlanta, GA area. Mannie also taught computer science and robotics at Atlanta’s Pace Academy, a private K-12 school. Mannie is co-author of Winning LEGO MINDSTORMS Programming with James Trobaugh and hopes to author a book on the FIRST Tech Challenge.
Melea Long, of Clinton, MS, joined the Center for Mathematics and Science Education in September 2018 as an AmeriCorps VISTA with the North Mississippi VISTA Program (NMVP). As a VISTA member at the CMSE, her job is to alleviate poverty through education. Melea’s major responsibilities are to help with the Portable Planetarium, grow and host MATHCOUNTS Competition, help with the Catapult Competition, assist with the FIRST Tech Challenge program, coordinate and develop the Teaching Network Project, and recruit and support the NMVP. Her interests include art and STEM Education. She is excited to be working with the CMSE!