STEM Shoutout: Dr. Liz Godwin

Photo of Liz GodwinEngineering professor to study decisions by Latinas to attend graduate school


Dr. Liz Godwin, an Inclusive Excellence Research Scholar in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at UNM, has been awarded a $350,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to explore how the unique identities of Latinas might influence their decision to attend graduate school in engineering. 


As part of the project, “An Individual Investigator Plan for Building Capacity to Study Undergraduate Latinas Interest in Graduate School,” Godwin over three years will advance current knowledge of the influences on Latinas to pursue engineering beyond a bachelor’s degree. The fundamental research outcomes of the project will influence how engineering graduate programs elect to recruit more Latinas and identify any potential barriers so that the number of Latinas pursuing a doctoral degree in engineering might increase.  


This research integrates well into Godwin’s research agenda, where she seeks to develop diverse, sustainable solutions for the future through fundamental nanomaterials and advanced manufacturing research. Problem solvers for these topics must include the perspectives of community members affected, she said.


“Diversity is imperative in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to tackle the increasingly complex challenges that require innovative solutions. Innovation thrives on diverse perspectives,” she said.


Godwin plans to engage with students in the School of Engineering to understand their perspectives, ideas, and decisions about graduate school. More broadly, she is interested in how all students perceive research. This fall, Godwin will examine and measure the interest in research and awareness of graduate school for first year students in the School of Engineering. This study will hopefully lead to solutions to enhance graduate school pursuit by our students here at UNM.


As part of the project, Godwin will collaborate with an interdisciplinary team from UNM including Dr. Vanessa Svihla, an associate professor who has appointments in the Organization, Information and Learning Sciences program and the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering; Dr. Mala Htun, a professor of political science and Dr. Nancy Lopez, a professor of sociology. Together, the team has combined expertise in engineering education, sociology, and equity program development, Godwin said.


“While this research focuses on engineering education, the multi- disciplinary team approach will ensure this research aptly considers the complex, intersectional identities of Latinas,” Godwin said.