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Laura Gelles

Laura Gelles


Department of Engineering Fundamentals

Contact Information

  • 260B Zeanah Engineering Complex
  • E-mail:

  • Biography

    Laura Gelles is a Lecturer in the Engineering Fundamentals program at the University of Tennessee Knoxville. She has spent her professional engineering education career researching and developing programs to facilitate student success by focusing on promoting student self-determination through creating inclusive environments and providing information and strategies on how to navigate educational systems. Through her research and practice, she discovered how important faculty are in promoting a student’s persistence in engineering. Seeing the Engineering Fundamental Program’s authentic commitment to student success through implementing research-based pedagogical practices, she decided to join their team and directly contribute to a culture of student success and inclusion. She received a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Environmental Engineering. Reflecting on the challenges she and other underrepresented populations face in engineering education, she pursued Engineering Education as a way to enact meaningful change in higher education. She received her PhD in Engineering Education at Utah State University where she studied the mentoring relationship and career prospects and resources of graduate students within engineering. Her other research topics have included: undergraduate persistence, climate and culture within engineering programs, institutional change, integrating social context into technical engineering curriculum, self-advocacy, and ethical mentoring. In her free time, she runs marathons, writes novels, and takes care of her dog.

    • Engineering Education
    • Climate and student persistence
    • Integrating sociotechnical content into engineering curriculum
    • PhD, Engineering Education, Utah State University, Logan, UT
    • MS, Environmental Engineering, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, ND
    • BS, Environmental Engineering, University of Nevada Reno, Reno, NV
    • Member, American Society for Engineering Education
    • 2020 Education Sciences Best Paper Award—Education Sciences
    • 2020 ASEE Materials Division Best Paper Award—2020 ASEE Virtual Conference
    • 2018 ASEE Engineering Ethics Division Best Diversity Paper—2018 ASEE National Conference

    Selected Journal Publications

    • Gelles, L. & Lord, S. (2021). Pedagogical Considerations and Challenges for Sociotechnical Integration within a Materials Science Class. International Journal of Engineering Education,
    • 37(5), 1244–1260.
    • Gelles, L., Mejia, J.A., Lord, S.M., Hoople, G.D., Chen, D.A (2021). Is It All about Efficiency? Exploring Students’ Conceptualizations of Sustainability in an Introductory Energy Course. Sustainability, 13, 7188.
    • Gelles, L., Lord, S., Hoople, G., Chen, D., & Mejia, J.A. (2020). Compassionate Flexibility and Self-Discipline: Student Adaptation to Emergency Remote Teaching in an Integrated Engineering Energy Course during COVID-19. Education Sciences, 10(11), 304.

    Selected Conference Proceedings

    • Gelles, L., & Walker, A. Exploring Climate and Student Persistence in Engineering and Computer Science through Engineering Culture. American Society of Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition, Minorities in Engineering division, Minneapolis, MN, June 26-39, 2022.
    • Gelles, L., & Lord, S. The Final Straw: Incorporating accessibility and sustainability considerations into material selection decisions. American Society of Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition, Materials Science Division, Virtual, June 21-24, 2020.
    • Gelles, L. Lessons learned about fostering curricular change. American Society of Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition, Faculty Development Division, Montreal, June 21-24, 2020.
    • Gelles, L., Youmans, K., & Villanueva, I. Hidden curriculum advocacy for engineering graduate students. American Society of Engineering Education 2019 CoNECD Conference, Arlington, VA. April 14-17, 2019


Laura Gelles

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