STEM Mission & Center Staff

Center for STEM Education Mission

The mission of the Mercy University Center for STEM Education (MCCSE) is to create opportunities for groups typically underrepresented in STEM to engage in enrichment activities for learning, career readiness, enjoyment, and personal and community growth, which may not be available through school districts. This Center is the only such academic center in our Westchester and Rockland region and hosts events, organizes activities, and conducts research related to STEM education. The CSE is an umbrella for varied, current and future STEM education activities conducted by faculty and supported through external funding. In an increasingly technology-oriented society, the importance of STEM education is paramount. Social data over the past 30 years suggests that, as compared with children of the 1970s, the future success of today’s youth largely hinges on their parents’ socio-economic status and educational experience (Harvard Saguaro Seminar, 2012). Science education can also be seen as part of being an educated citizen and thus an issue of access to knowledge, as a means of giving individuals—hence their families and communities—tools to solve problems on their own (Tate, 2001).

Women cutting a ribbon

If students do not have an opportunity to develop a strong foundation in STEM knowledge, they will not be prepared to make civic and social decisions that affect their families and communities. Students’ lack of preparation for applying knowledge of science in new situations and to their lives is more than just a problem of classroom instruction: it is also a challenge tied to race, English language proficiency, and socioeconomic status. Our poorest children often attend schools with the least resources, yielding disparities in academic quality among the haves and have-nots (Tate 2001, 1016). Through the Center for STEM Education, Mercy is situated to address these challenges and meet STEM education needs of underserved groups through research-based work with our own students and community outreach that includes local schools. Center activities include family STEM nights, Saturday STEM Academies, professional development for K-12 teachers, and summer camps.


Dr. Amanda M. Gunning

Dr. Gunning is an Associate Professor of Secondary Science Education at Mercy and Chairman of the Department of Secondary Education.  She developed, with other faculty,  a graduate Advanced Certificate in STEM Education at Mercy, initiated in 2018.   She was recently in Cameroon with the PAHEi Foundation to discuss STEM in the context of business entrepreneurship with high school students.  She is Co-Director of the Greater NY Wipro Science Education Fellowship which has new grant funding in 2022  to further teacher leadership in STEM in partnership districts.  She is the PI on a 5-year  NSF grant Preparing Master Teacher Fellows in STEM, which is training 14 STEM Master teachers, and Co-PI on the NSF grant Mercy University Intensive STEM Teacher Initiative (MISTI).  

Dr. Gunning's areas of specialty are Physics and Engineering, and teacher education in STEM.  She does extensive STEM professional development in the Westchester and Rockland schools, and is widely published in professional journals.



Dr. Kristen V. Napolitano

Senior Researcher

Dr. Napolitano holds her Ed.D in Science Education with a specialization in Teacher Education from Teachers College, Columbia University.  Kristen joined Mercy University in September 2020 after seven years teaching 7th -12th grade life sciences in New Jersey and is an Mercy,Adjunct Faculty teaching Introduction to Science Teaching and Forensic science, among others.

Kristen is also the Director of Wipro Reimagined, Greater New York Region.



Affiliated Faculty

Dr. Marion Ben-Jacob, Professor, Mathematics and Computer Sciences, Mercy University

Dr. Zhixiong Chen, Professor, Cybersecurity, Mercy University

Dr. William Farber, Associate Professor, Mathematics Education, Mercy University

Dr. Renee Haskew-Layton, Assistant Professor, School of Health and Natural Sciences, Mercy University

Dr. Wendy Mages, Associate Professor, Childhood Education, Mercy University

Dr. Elena Nitecki, Associate Professor, Childhood Education, Mercy University