Dr. Helen Turner, gave a plenary presentation at the 2016 Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment Conference (XSEDE16) on July 20 in Miami. Turner spoke on “Big Data, Small School: Bringing Data Science to Disenfranchised STEM Students in a Minority Serving Institution.” The presentation discussed innovative data science research projects and educational approaches that embody principles of democratization (an inclusive STEM pipeline that transcends barriers of privilege), decolonization (inculturation of indigenous knowledge within a Western scientific paradigm), and (re)-discovery (export of Pacific-based models to address global challenges). Also discussed were gaps in the Pacific educational ecosystem for science and technology, and the necessary fusion of science and culture in STEM educational approaches.
A leading STEM advocate, Turner resides as the Dean of Natural Sciences and is a tenured Professor of Biology at Chaminade University of Honolulu. She moved to Hawaii in 2000 to take a position as Associate Director of Research at The Queen’s Medical Center. In 2007, she joined Chaminade where she has been the major architect of its STEM transformation and has led the initial development of its School of Nursing. In addition, Turner holds joint appointments at the University of Hawaii (UH) School of Medicine and graduate faculty appointments in several UH programs.
An acknowledged leader in Hawaii’s science and educational development, Turner has led a number of critical statewide and national partnerships that benefit Chaminade’s mission. Chaminade occupies a unique position in the American educational spectrum serving disenfranchised and disadvantaged students from indigenous Hawaiian and Pacific Island backgrounds.
Under her Deanship, Chaminade has made an institutional transformation from a teaching institution with no research capacity to a vibrant culture of undergraduate research. In her laboratory, and those of the faculty she has recruited to Chaminade to share in this mission, these students are no longer denied opportunities to become scientists, health practitioners and educators. Their emerging success in gaining entry to graduate school and health professional programs will have a striking impact on their communities. Turner is committed to using research and inquiry in Chaminade’s laboratories as a vehicle to achieve this social change.
Turner earned her PhD at the University of London and performed post-doctoral work at Harvard Medical School as a Wellcome Trust International Prize Fellow.