Renewed Provost Scholars Focus on Green Jobs, Curricular Innovation

Headshots Kemp and Malik
Kemp, Malik

Alyssa Kemp, a BS/MS student studying environmental engineering, and Sarah Malik, a PhD candidate in mechanical engineering, have been renewed as Nina Henderson Provost Scholars for the 2023-24 academic year, the Office of the Provost recently announced.

The Provost Scholars program is an annual scholarship program that provides 12 motivated Drexel students with the opportunity to enhance their leadership skills and play a hands-on role in shaping the Drexel experience. Drawing on their diverse backgrounds, disciplines and perspectives, Nina Henderson Provost Scholars work alongside the Provost and senior Provost’s Office leadership to advance key priorities of the Drexel 2030 Strategic Plan and collaborate on strategic projects.

Kemp, who first earned Scholar status in September 2022, is working under the mentorship of Mathy Stanislaus, vice provost and executive director of The Environmental Collaboratory; Hugh Johnson, senior director of research strategy and development; and program manager Sammy Shuster to increase the capacity of community-based climate transition workforce opportunities in Philadelphia.

"My project focuses on community-based climate transition workforce opportunities," said Kemp. "These opportunities are crucial to ensure a just transition, which equitably distributes the costs and benefits of climate action, for two main reasons. First, climate transition jobs don’t require a college degree, which makes them accessible. Second, they can advance diversity given the current focus on skills over degrees."

Kemp has conducted research identifying key climate transition roles needed in Philadelphia and began developing partnerships between workforce development organizations, companies, and universities to train residents for these jobs. Her goal is to enable these partners to expand their workforce development programs to equip more Philadelphians with the skills needed for careers that support sustainability.

"So far, key climate transition workforce opportunities in Philadelphia have been identified and the groundwork for key strategic partnerships has been developed," explained Kemp. "Stakeholder recommendations and key insights have become identified by conducting phased consultations."

In addition to creating employment pathways through strategic partnerships, Kemp aims to align existing workforce initiatives across Drexel’s campus to allow for a more cohesive approach to green workforce development.

Meanwhile, Malik is using her background in engineering to drive innovation in higher education. As she enters her third year as a Provost Scholar under the mentorship of Vice Provost Rajnesh Suri, Malik is taking on two new projects focused on curricular analytics and applications of artificial intelligence. Her previous project on the future of higher education involved extensive data analysis and was presented to the Board of Trustees and Provost's Office. A key finding was the need to create an inclusive campus environment where students feel a sense of belonging.

Malik's goal aligns closely with this insight - she aims to advance diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives and shape an educational landscape that meets the needs of diverse students. Her ambition is to make DEI not just abstract ideals, but active, foundational elements of the campus community.

"The future of higher education hinges on a robust commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion," said Malik. "My scholarship aims to advocate for initiatives that make a tangible impact, ensuring education evolves to serve an increasingly diverse student body and society."

In her new projects, Malik is further exploring innovations that can enhance inclusion and student success.

"My new projects involve implementing analytic frameworks to visualize and evaluate the complexity of Drexel’s curricula, and exploring ways to integrate generative AI into teaching and learning," explained Malik.

Through curricular analytics, Malik aims to represent the university’s degree requirements in a structured, graphical way to enable analysis of how courses interconnect. This will help Drexel identify improvements to curricula that can enhance student experiences.

"The project involves producing a report and presentation in which Drexel’s curricula are visualized and analyzed using this graph-theoretic framework," said Malik.

Additionally, Malik is spearheading a symposium to establish best practices around ethical, effective integration of generative AI into higher education curricula and pedagogy. As these technologies transform industries, Drexel seeks to take a leadership role in this area.

Previously, Malik’s scholarship focused on the future of higher education, analyzing data from over 500 global learners. Her work provided insights into emerging trends in areas like diversity, finance, mentoring and classroom learning.