NYU Steinhardt Remembers Jhumki Basu, Associate Professor of Science Education


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Sreyashi Jhumki Basu, 31, associate professor of science education, died on December 16, 2008, following a brave struggle with breast cancer.  Jhumki, as she was known to friends and colleagues, attended Stanford University, where she received a B.A. in Human Biology in 1998.  Jhumki taught physics, chemistry and biology at schools in California and New York, and was awarded permanent NY State teaching credentials in those subjects in 2003.   She completed a doctoral degree in Science Education at Teachers College, Columbia in 2006, and joined the NYU Steinhardt Department of Teaching and Learning that same year as an assistant professor.

Jhumki studied youth agency and democratic practice in science education. She conducted research on access and equity for urban minority youth in science. She was also involved in projects examining the pedagogical philosophies and toolkits of first-year physics graduate teaching assistants and in developing support structures to help under-represented undergraduates succeed in physics.  She worked closely with many science education students and mentored them in their research.

Recently she was on the founding staff of the School for Democracy and Leadership in Brooklyn, New York, where she also served as acting assistant principal, science department chair, and mentor for new teachers.

Jhumki was the recipient of awards from the Petrie Foundation and the American Education Research Association; she was a recipient of a Knowles Young Scholar Fellowship.

“A treasured member of our faculty, Jhumki touched countless lives and left an indelible mark on our students and our school,” said Dean Mary Brabeck.  “She was a brilliant researcher and educator who, in her all too brief career, achieved great success in advancing the state of science education.  Her death is a great loss for the field and for all of us who were fortunate enough to know her and work with her.

Speaking about inquiry-based methods of science education, a topic about which she felt passionate,  Jhumki said, “There is all sorts of science that relates to things kids are familiar with . . . Science doesn’t have to be – in fact, science is NOT – a perpetual accumulation of information. If we didn’t ask questions, and attempt to answer them, we would never move forward in science.”

Jhumki Basu is survived by her husband Alexander Konstantinou, her mother Radha Basu, and her father Dipak Basu.

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