Zakiya S. Wilson-Kennedy, Ph.D. headshot

Zakiya S. Wilson-Kennedy, Ph.D.

Ron & Dr. Mary Neal Distinguished Associate Professor of Chemistry Education, Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion, College of Science

Louisiana State University

Zakiya S. Wilson-Kennedy, Ph.D., is the Ron and Dr. Mary Neal Distinguished Associate Professor of Chemistry Education and the Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion within the College of Science at Louisiana State University (LSU). Her research investigates the persistence of individuals from all backgrounds in STEM higher education and careers, focusing on faculty and student recruitment, retention, and success. Through these efforts, she employs mentoring models that integrate the theories of identity development, empowerment, social cognitive career theory, and community cultural wealth to create and test development structures that cultivate self-efficacy and agency, particularly for groups historically underrepresented in STEM.

Dr. Wilson-Kennedy is a firm believer in collaboration and has led and co-led a number of institutional initiatives designed to broaden the participation of groups underrepresented in STEM. Examples of this work include the freshman seminar course SCI 1001 which is designed to foster a sense of belonging during the critical transition from high school to college for aspiring scientists and mathematicians. Contributing to the leadership of our NSF-funded ADVANCE Catalyst project that seeks to increase gender equity within the faculty ranks. And the Geaux Science Explorations STEM Outreach Initiative featured collaborations between leaders and faculty in the college and has impacted hundreds of students at the k-8 grade levels in Baton Rouge and beyond. All of these efforts were developed through teams of individuals working together to advance diversity.

Her work has been supported through extramural support from the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, the US Department of Education, the Louisiana Board of Regents, and other agencies. Her education research has been published in peer-reviewed journals, such as the Journal of Science Education and Technology and the Journal of Chemical Education. She was the primary editor of a book, Broadening Participation in STEM: Effective Methods, Practices, and Programs (2019), within the Diversity in Higher Education Series published by Emerald, and coeditor of another book through ACS Publications entitled, Growing Diverse STEM Communities: Methodology, Impact, and Evidence (2019). She is also co-guest editor of a special issue of the Journal of Chemical Education, entitled Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Respect in Chemistry Education Research and Practice (2022).

Dr. Wilson-Kennedy was recently elected as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2021. She also served as the principal investigator for the 2014 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM) organizational recognition for the LSU Office of Strategic Initiatives and has received additional honors for her work in broadening participation, diversity, and STEM education: the NOBCChE Winifred Burks-Houck Award (2019) and Henry C McBay Outstanding Educator Award (2014), the ACS Stanley C. Israel Regional Award for Advancing Diversity in the Chemical Sciences (2011), Woman of Color STEM Achievement Award for Promotion of Education at the Collegiate Level (2011), the National Administrator Role Model Award from Minority Access, Inc. (2009),  and the LSU Outstanding Staff Award (2009).  She is a charter member of the Society of STEM Women of Color and the Metropolitan Baton Rouge Chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women. She is also a founding contributor to the American Chemical Society (ACS) Women Chemists of Color Initiative.  She received her bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Jackson State University and her doctorate in inorganic chemistry from Louisiana State University.