Three LaGuardia Community College Mathematics Professors Receive National Science Foundation Grant

Long Island City, NY—March 28, 2014—As part of a National Center for Science and Engagement initiative to link college-level mathematics to relevant civic issues, three LaGuardia Community College mathematics professors were awarded a three-year National Science Foundation grant to develop a statistics course that will place an emphasis on applications in civic and environmental issues.

The professors, Dr. Prabha Betne, Dr. Milena Cuellar and Dr. Mangala Kothari, will develop a statistics course that will provide students with an opportunity to enhance their ability to describe how statistics is used in analyzing social and environmental problems.  Students will also learn how to perform a statistical analysis and how to present their findings to a wider community.

The team also plans on enhancing two basic math courses—Introduction to Algebra and Elementary Algebra—to improve students’ critical thinking and quantitative reasoning skills.

“This project provides the team with the opportunity to create activities that will connect math to the real world,” said Dr. Kothari.  “By making that connection, our students will understand how relevant math is in their everyday lives.”

The initiative, titled “Engaging Mathematics: Creating a National Community of Practice,” applies the SENCER model, which links subject matter with issues of civic importance to math courses.

LaGuardia, along with Metropolitan State University in St. Paul’s, Minnesota, are the lead institutions.  Dr. Betne will serve as an advisory board member; Dr. Cuellar, as a faculty fellow; and Dr. Kothari, as a co-principal investigator.

Other colleges participating in the program are Augsburg College in Minneapolis, Minnesota; Normandale Community College in Bloomington, Minnesota; Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, Georgia; and Roosevelt University in Chicago, Illinois.  These six participants will form a community of practice by collaborating with each other.

“This project brings math professors from two- and four-year institutions across the country to partner to enhance existing courses and develop new ones,” said Dr. Betne.

“As mathematics educators, we have a responsibility to help develop leaders and decision-makers who are able to make good decisions informed by science and mathematics,” said Dr. Frank Wattenberg, a professor at the United States Military Academy and a co-principal investigator on the project.

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LaGuardia Community College located in Long Island City, Queens, was founded in 1971 as a bold experiment in opening the doors of higher education to all, and we proudly carry forward that legacy today. LaGuardia educates students through over 50 degree, certificate and continuing education programs, providing an inspiring place for students to achieve their dreams. Upon graduation, LaGuardia students’ lives are transformed as family income increases 17%, and students transfer to four-year colleges at three times the national average. Part of the City University of New York (CUNY), LaGuardia is a nationally recognized leader among community colleges for boundary-breaking success educating underserved students. At LaGuardia we imagine new ideas, create new curriculum and pioneer programs to make our community and our country stronger. Visit to learn more.