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Coalition Leaders


Dr. Robert Potter

Robert Potter, Ph.D.

Director, Coalition for Science Literacy
Sr. Associate Dean, College of Arts & Sciences
Professor of Chemistry
University of South Florida

Dr. Potter's CV


Working with CSL since 1995, Dr. Potter has been involved in numerous projects to improve STEM education through K12 teacher, college faculty and graduate student professional development particularly in ways that focus on inquiry and critical thinking. He is Sr. Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and Professor of Chemistry and has served as interim chair of the Chemistry Department. Dr. Potter chaired the USF General Education Council as it oversaw the implementation of a new general education program focused on critical thinking and inquiry, which he helped to develop. He received his Ph.D. from the University of California at San Diego in biochemistry in 1979 and did postdoctoral work at the University of Wyoming, where he taught for two years as visiting faculty before coming to USF in 1984.

While at CSL Dr. Potter has helped secure more than $13 million in grants from NSF, USED, and the Florida DOE and has been an advocate for systemic, large-scale change at universities and in the K-12 sector. Dr. Potter was the PI for the IES-funded project, Leadership for Integrated Middle School Science (LIMSS). He led the development of curriculum and materials for "Science That Matters" I and II, a standards-based interdisciplinary science course sequence for preservice elementary and middle school teachers. Other projects have included marketing mathematics and science teaching to professionals, teacher induction, and research on teacher resignations. Dr. Potter was a member of a statewide Coalition for Improving Mathematics and Science Education and served on its board of directors. He is currently one of the university representatives to the Bay View Alliance a national group focused on improving science instruction at the college level.

Ruthmae Sears, Ph.D.

Ruthmae Sears, Ph.D.

Associate Director for Inclusive Excellence, Coalition for Science Literacy
Lead Faculty Facilitator for USF Inclusive and Equitable Pedagogy Program

Associate Professor in Mathematics Education

College of Education
University of South Florida

Dr. Sears Bio





Dr. Sears has been a member of the STEER grant leadership team since 2016. Her work includes developing the equitable and inclusive content for the STEM Lab TA professional development series.  She is active in the University’s drive for inclusive excellence and was instrumental in bringing the successful Enlightenment Series to the USF community.

The Enlightenment Workshop Series presents courageous conversations designed to foster a culture of inclusive excellence at the University of South Florida. Organized by the Black Employee Steering Committee with support from the Institute on Black Life and Black Faculty & Staff Association, these sessions began in 2020, and since the launch, over 400 members of the USF community have registered to attend.

Under the coordination of Dr. Ruthmae Sears and Geveryl Robinson (co-chairs), the workshops focus on intersectional perspectives related to bias, cultural competence and systemic racism, with an emphasis on current trends facing Black communities across the African Diaspora.

Dr. Sears is an Associate Professor of Mathematics Education at the University of South Florida. Her research focuses on curriculum issues, the development of reasoning and proof skills, clinical experiences in secondary mathematics, and the integration of technology in the teaching and learning of mathematics.

Dr. Gerry Meisels

      Gerry Meisels, Ph.D.

       Founding Director, Coalition for Science Literacy
       Professor of Chemistry
       University of South Florida

       Dr. Meisels' CV

Dr. Gerry G. Meisels is the founding director of the Coalition for Science Literacy (CSL). He came to USF in 1988 as Provost and Chief Operating Officer after serving as Dean of Arts and Sciences at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln (1982-1988), Chair of UN-L’s Chemistry Department (1975-1982), and Chemistry Professor (1965-1975) and Department Chair (1972-1975) at the University of Houston. Dr. Meisels began his professional career as a chemist and group leader in industry, working for the Gulf Oil and Union Carbide Corporations. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame as an Atomic Energy Commission Pre-doctoral Fellow in Radiation Chemistry. Dr. Meisels has authored more than 100 papers in major science journals and has served as president of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry (ASMS) and chairman of the Council of Scientific Society Presidents.

Since 1994 Dr. Meisels has led projects to improve science and mathematics education and advocated for systemic, large-scale change. He has secured more than $20 million in grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the U.S. Department of Education (USED), and the Florida Department of Education (FDOE). He has led numerous statewide and regional initiatives to improve K-12 science and mathematics education, including legislative appropriations for a statewide Mathematics and Science Professional Development program, the inclusion of science in Florida’s statewide assessments, and statutes establishing the Florida Center for Research in STEM. He was a member of the writers committee that revised Florida’s Sunshine State Standards in Science, and represented STEM on the Education Planning task force of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. He is Principal Investigator (PI) of an NSF IUSE implementation grant, co-PI with of a Florida DOE-MSP project with a large school district, and external evaluator of four teacher professional development and two college-based education programs. He has been a senior participant in several NSF, NASA, and USED-IES projects focusing on curriculum design and delivery, professional development of teachers, and climate change education.