2016 Award Recipients

The North Carolina Association for Biomedical Research bestows its Distinguished Teaching Award in STEM Education to one or more recipients in the field of K–16 STEM education each year. The awards are designed to recognize educators at the elementary, middle and high school levels, and higher education faculty who have made extraordinary contributions to the field of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. The number of awards given each year is at the discretion of the Awards and Recognitions Committee.

Our 2016 Award Recipients are:

Joann Blumenfeld


Joann is a Science and Special Education Teacher at Broughton High School in Raleigh. Her impressive resume includes a decade working overseas in Asia and the Middle East, and includes time in the US Peace Corp. She has served on boards in her community, including the National Science Teachers Association Special Education Advisory Board. She invented “Zack Packs,” which are inquiry bags that go home with special education students each week and contain items that help improve student STEM performance. With her newest project, “Catalyst: Creating Opportunities in STEM for Students with Disabilities,” she has partnered with the Science House at North Carolina State University. This Program involves 22 students from 20 high schools in North Carolina. She has presented or volunteered at every Bridging the Gap conference since 2012.

Rahman Tashakkori, PhD


Rahman is the Lowe’s Distinguished Professor in the Department of Computer Science at Appalachian State University. Rahman joined ASU in August 2000 upon completion of his PhD degree in Computer Science from Louisiana State University. He has taught many undergraduate and graduate courses at ASU and has developed several new courses. He also served as the director of several programs, including the NSF CSEMS, NSF S-STEM, NSF STEP, and NSF RET programs and has served as Co-PI on several other projects. He currently is directing the High Achievers in Computer Science and Mathematics program as well as the ECRS CS Innovation and McKinney STEM Innovation projects. He mentors both undergraduate and graduate students and is a strong advocate of undergraduate research. He has published and presented research with his graduate and undergraduate students. Since joining ASU, he has secured more than $4M in funding to support mentoring and research activities. Rahman’s main area of research is image processing and visualization. His latest adventures include studying the honeybee behavior using image and signal processing techniques that utilize video and audio recordings from the honeybee hives. He attended the first Bridging the Gap conference in 2012 and has presented sessions at each conference since 2014.