Grand Valley alumnus Kristofer Pachla has been named the new director of the Regional Math and Science Center.
Pachla brings with him a varied background, working in K-12 and higher education. He earned a bachelor's degree in physics and mathematics from Grand Valley in 2008, and a master's degree in educational leadership from Grand Valley in 2009.
Pachla is currently completing his doctoral degree in education policy and STEM teacher professional development from George Mason University. He also serves as an adjunct professor of physics at Grand Valley.
After graduating, Pachla taught physics for Fairfax County Public Schools in Vienna, Virginia, and then served as a graduate research assistant with the Virginia Initiative for Science Teaching and Achievement at George Mason University.
Pachla, who will begin his role on April 17, said that he has always gravitated toward Grand Valley's connection to the community.
"By becoming a catalyst and resource for professional development in the region, connecting students and educators to opportunities and enriching Grand Valley's community through partnerships, I hope to cement the center's role as an essential component of the regional and state STEM education system," he said.
Pachla is no stranger to the RMSC. He worked as a graduate assistant at the center during the summer of 2008. In this role, he assisted with three summer camps and taught aerodynamics and geocaching to K-12 students, among other duties.
Before joining the university, Pachla served as a science education analyst in the Division of Undergraduate Education at the National Science Foundation. In this position, he provided grant support for the division's four primary grant programs, encompassing more than 2,000 incoming proposals and more than $2 million in awarded funding. He also served on the leadership planning teams for an undergraduate STEM education research symposium and a knowledge summit for federally funded stakeholders from 12 federal agencies.
"Inquiry in the STEM fields has provided the nation with opportunities to walk on the moon, roll on Mars and view close-ups of the stars," he said. "If I can inspire just one person to realize their science or mathematics-related dreams, then I'll consider that a success."
He replaces Karen Meyers who will retire in May. Meyers has worked in the RMSC for 24 years, and served as director since 2008. Meyers played a crucial role in the development and execution of the various outreach services the center provides to K-12 teachers and students in Kent, Ottawa and Montcalm counties.