Luis A. Leyva
Assistant Professor of Mathematics Education, Department of Teaching and Learning
Faculty Affiliate, Department of Gender & Sexuality Studies
At the juncture of gender studies, higher education, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), Leyva’s interdisciplinary research explores narratives of oppression and agency across historically marginalized groups’ educational experiences to uncover interlocking functions of racism and cisheteropatriarchy in undergraduate STEM. He draws on critical race theory, women of color feminisms, and queer of color critique to conceptually and methodologically ground his scholarship, which centers historically marginalized voices in STEM higher education across intersections of race, gender, and sexuality. Leyva’s research has been distinguished with awards and fellowships from the American Educational Research Association, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (Mindset Scholars Network), National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation, and Vanderbilt University-Peabody College.
He developed the framework of STEM Education as a White, Cisheteropatriarchal Space as an analytical lens for examining ideological, institutional, and relational forces that shape intersectionality of STEM experiences. His research informs equity-oriented practices in classroom teaching and co-curricular support that affirm underrepresented students’ intersectional identities and increase their access to STEM majors.
Leyva is the Director of the PRISM (Power, Resistance & Identity in STEM Education) Research Lab at Vanderbilt-Peabody College. The lab’s research serves to hold an “intersectional prism” up to underrepresented students’ narratives of experience to illuminate and disrupt multidimensional forms of oppression in undergraduate STEM education. To learn more about PRISM and its research projects, visit the lab website.
As an educational researcher, Leyva draws on his professional experience as a certified K-12 mathematics teacher and his various leadership roles across STEM support programs. Leyva holds over six years of experience in student programs at Rutgers University for increasing STEM retention and success among underrepresented groups, including his roles as a residential mentor in STEM living-learning communities and as a mathematics teacher for the Upward Bound Math-Science summer bridge program.
CURRENT RESEARCH PROJECTS
Leyva has three current research projects. One project, titled Queer Students of Color in STEM, explores the intersectionality of experiences among queer and trans* students of color in STEM majors across historically white and minority-serving universities. This project, supported by the National Academy of Education and Spencer Foundation, builds on Leyva’s prior research focused on issues of race-gender intersectionality among historically marginalized groups in undergraduate mathematics education.
His second project, titled COURAGE (Challenging, Operationalizing & Understanding Racialized and Gendered Events) in Undergraduate Mathematics, examines features of instruction in undergraduate calculus classrooms that students from historically marginalized groups experience as discouraging or supportive as mathematics learners. This project, supported by the National Science Foundation (Improving Undergraduate STEM Education program), addresses the pervasive role of calculus as a gatekeeper that reinforces racialized and gendered access to STEM.
Leyva’s third project, titled TIPS (Transformative Inclusion in Postsecondary STEM), focuses on the transformation of STEM departmental cultures across Hispanic-Serving Institutions to better serve Latin* students through faculty professional development. This project, supported by the National Science Foundation (Hispanic-Serving Institutions program), explores perspectives on serving Latin* students from multiple stakeholders (e.g., students, faculty, staff) to advance equity-oriented curricular designs, classroom instruction, and student support specifically in introductory STEM courses.