Faculty and Staff
Dr. Alice Steimle serves as the 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.
Dr. Julie James
Assistant Director of Professional Learning
Jackson Avenue Center, Suite QO4
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. Bethany LaValley is the Coordinator of Professional Development at the Center for Mathematics and Science Education. She works with the Professional Learning Division to provide high-quality professional learning opportunities to STEM educators by developing relevant workshops and institutes for K-12 teachers and administrations. She is also involved in the grant and research work of the CMSE. Dr. LaValley’s research interests include mathematics and special education co-teaching partnerships and how teachers provide equitable educational experiences for students with disabilities in the mathematics classroom. She has a passion for supporting teachers in the work of equity and inclusion in mathematics.
Dr. LaValley is an alumnus of the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science in Columbus, MS, and the University of Mississippi. At Ole Miss, she earned a BA, a MA in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Mathematics, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Secondary Mathematics Education. She was employed in the School of Engineering from 2006-2011, where she provided office coordination support for the CMSE upon its founding in 2006. She received a graduate research fellowship from the CMSE for both her her MA (2012-2014) and her Ph.D. (2019-2023). Dr. LaValley has taught mathematics at the upper elementary, middle, and high school levels.
Mississippi FIRST Tech Challenge Robotics Program Manager
Jackson Avenue Center, Suite Q11
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.
Dr. Erica Paige Gillentine
Instructional Associate Professor of Mathematics
Jackson Avenue Center, Suite Q15
Erica Paige Gillentine, Ph.D. joined the Mathematics Department at the University of Mississippi as an Instructional Associate 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
Jackson Avenue Center, Suite QO2
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.
Educational Outreach Specialist
Jackson Avenue Center, Suite QO5
Chris Dicus is the Educational Outreach Specialist for the Center for Mathematics and Science Education. In this role, Chris coordinates professional development opportunities hosted by the Professional Learning Division, assists teachers with materials used in the classroom, as well as manages the CMSE’s social media presence and advertisements.
Originally from Columbus, GA, Chris received his Bachelor of Arts in Journalism with an emphasis in Public Relations from the University of Mississippi. Chris has a passion for making people feel included in all activities, especially when it comes to CMSE learning opportunities. When not working, Chris enjoys attending Ole Miss sporting events, playing golf, and cooking for his friends.
K-12 STEM Experiences Coordinator
Jackson Avenue Center, Suite QO7
Caroline Millwood joined the CMSE in 2022 as the K-12 STEM Experiences Coordinator. Caroline’s responsibilities include coordinating the CMSE’s Stream Table and Mobile Planetarium Program. Caroline oversees our STEM Explorations, Excursions, and Experts programs. She also assists with various academic competitions such as FTC Robotics and MATHCOUNTS.
Caroline earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Mississippi where she majored in Elementary Education. Prior to her role with the CMSE, Caroline spent five years as a math and science teacher. This is where she developed a passion for helping students learn and understand the importance of problem-solving skills across various strands of mathematics content. She loves to see students continue to develop a strong number sense so that they can think flexibly and fluently about numbers.
Caroline resides in Oxford with her husband, Zach, and their daughter, Bradley.