Pamela Harman Recognized for Her Service by Iowa State University

Pamela Harman Recognized for Her Service by Iowa State University

Pamela Harman

Iowa State University Inducts Pamela Harman as a 2021 Distinguished Alumni

Pamela Harman is the Director of Education at the SETI Institute. She leads programs that enhance STEM education, such as Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors, which provides professional development for teachers, and Reaching for the Stars: NASA Science for Girl Scouts. Initially trained in civil engineering at Iowa State University’s Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering (CCEE), Harman has spearheaded efforts to include young girls and women in STEM. The Department has named Harman one of their 2021 Distinguished Alumni to recognize her significant professional achievement and service.

"The recognition was a complete surprise; I haven't practiced engineering for quite a while,” said Harman. “With my recognition, Iowa State CCEE Department has acknowledged the importance of STEM Education and the significance of engaging young women in STEM. We must demonstrate that engineering and science are rewarding, collaborative endeavors. The more diverse the practitioners, the more expansive and creative the thinking and problem-solving. The future is in the hands of our young problem solvers; we must engage and inspire them to take the reins."

Harman merged her experience as a project engineer and project manager with experience as a high school math and science teacher to work at SETI Institute. She joined the SETI Institute 22 years ago as a science education associate on the Voyages Through Time curriculum project. Just a few of Harman’s achievements include:

  • Led the team that created space science badges with the Girl Scouts of the USA and educational activities such as Girls Go To Mars and Reaching For The Stars: NASA Science for Girl Scouts
  • Led education and outreach for the NASA Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy
  • Collaborated on the design, development and implementation of curriculum aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
  • Participated as a member of the NASA Kepler Mission Education and Public Outreach staff
  • Received ten prestigious NASA Group awards for contributions and team successes

“Pamela has been the backbone of the SETI Institute’s passion for education for many years and she continues to lead in the development of new and innovative ways to drive science literacy, especially with women and girls.,” said Simon Steel, Senior Director of Education and Outreach at the SETI Institute. “It is a pleasure and inspiration to work with her.”

Harman’s personal, professional development training included gender equity in classrooms, growth mindset, NGSS-aligned curriculum design, constructivist learning practices, and learning modalities. Harman has shared her knowledge by teaching others at a variety of levels, conducting a multitude of short courses and workshops, authored or co-authoring 53 conference abstracts, co-authored two science curricula, writing several web feature stories; and led the development and delivery of a graduate-level professional development course for science teachers. Harman was an invited Young Women In Space Science panelist, speaking to the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology Leadership, and was a workshop presenter at special events for students in Australia, Iceland, and Columbia.

“Edna DeVore, retired SETI Institute Director of Education, and Dr. Kathleen O’Sullivan, Emerita SFSU Secondary Education Professor, are my role models,” said Harman. “They set me on the path toward excellence in constructivist science education, space science education and program proposal writing and execution. Without them, my colleagues at SETI Institute, and colleagues in the space science education community, I would not be receiving this recognition.”

Nominations for Iowa State’s CCEE awards are vetted through a joint committee of the department's two advisory councils, reviewed by the university and council executive committees, and voted on by the Civil and Environmental Engineering External Advisory Council and the Construction Engineering Industry Advisory Council. This year's inductees will be honored at either the Construction Engineering Awards Banquet on April 14 or the Civil and Environmental Engineering Awards Banquet on September 15. Read more from Iowa State here.