"Homegrown Superstar" to Talk About Uncovering STEM Pathways

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Tacoma native Jaleesa Trapp, now studying at MIT, will discuss her research into "engaging non-dominant youth in STEM."

Jaleesa Trapp, a 2011 alumna of UW In Seattle now studying for her Ph.D. at MIT.“She’s a homegrown superstar,” says UW Tacoma Assistant Professor Emma Rose about Jaleesa Trapp. Trapp grew up in the Hilltop neighborhood of Tacoma and is currently working on her Ph.D. at the Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Rose met Trapp while they were both students at the University of Washington. The former was pursuing a doctorate while the latter was completing her bachelor’s degree. “Jaleesa was close with my advisor and that’s how we met,” said Rose.

Rose and Trapp struck up a friendship that continues to this day. The pair share a common interest when it comes to diversity in STEM. Rose’s current research focuses on incorporating underrepresented communities in the design process. She is part of Project EMAR along with researchers from UW in Seattle. Rose and the team are building a robot that can measure stress in teens by soliciting feedback from high school students.

Trapp cultivated her passion for STEM at The Tacoma Clubhouse. The organization, “is a safe out-of-school digital design studio where young people from Tacoma learn to express themselves through design, science, technology, engineering, arts, and math.” Trapp was a regular at the clubhouse in middle and high school. She served as the program’s director for a few years after completing her degree in Human Centered Design and Engineering at UW in Seattle. Trapp also taught computer science at Tacoma Public Schools' Science and Math Institute (SAMI) and was a founding faculty member of the Industrial Design Engineering and Art (iDEA) school.

Rose is always looking to use her role as an educator to advance new ideas. She reached out to Trapp about the possibility of coming to campus. Trapp’s research focuses on using anti-racist approaches to, in her words, “engage non-dominant youth in STEM.” “She [Trapp] has developed a set of guidelines based on her research that I thought would be valuable for our community to hear,” said Rose.

Rose’s interest in Trapp is based on more than friendship. “A lot of the talk around the problem of diversity in STEM comes from a position of privilege,” said Rose. “Because of Jaleesa’s deep expertise in this area, she has an immense amount to teach us all.”

Trapp’s talk is Monday, January 28 at 4 pm. The event is free and open to the public. Trapp’s visit to UW Tacoma is underwritten by the School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, the School of Education, the Center for Equity and Inclusion and the Office of Research.

What: “Uncovering Hidden Pathways: Anti-Racist Approaches for Engaging Non-Dominant Youth in STEM”
When: 4 p.m. Monday, Jan. 28, 2019
Where: University Y Student Center Room 303, 1710 Market St., Tacoma, Wash.
Cost: Free and open to the public

Written by: 
Eric Wilson-Edge / January 25, 2019
Media contact: 

John Burkhardt, UW Tacoma Communications, 253-692-4536 or johnbjr@uw.edu