Dr. Maria Mercedes Franco is Associate Professor and Chair of Mathematics and Computer Science at Queensborough Community College –The City University of New York. She has a Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics from Cornell University. She also holds a M.S. in Applied Mathematics from Cornell University and a B.S. in Mathematics from Universidad del Valle (Cali, Colombia). Dr. Franco is a very committed educator, who for nearly 30 years has taught college and high school students at institutions in Colombia, Puerto Rico, and the United States. From giving lectures to organizing workshops to collaborating in undergraduate research programs, Dr. Franco is actively involved in activities that seek to increase the number of women and minorities in STEM disciplines, increase public understanding of and appreciation for mathematics & STEM, and address issues relevant to social justice. She is the author of a forthcoming book chapter entitled “Examining Human Rights through the Lens of Statistics”, to appear in Mathematics for Social Justice: Perspectives and Resources for the College Classroom - Vol II: Focusing on Quantitative Reasoning and Statistics (Mathematics Association of America Press).
At Queensborough, Dr. Franco has worked on a wide range of initiatives. From 2006 to 2009, she was co-PI and Associate Project Director for a grant-funded initiative that led to the establishment and institutionalization of Service-Learning as a high impact practice at the college. From 2010 to 2012, she led a departmental, grant-funded initiative that supported the integration of Service-Learning into College Algebra and Pre-Calculus courses. Under the same grant, she worked developing and co-directing a Minority Student Mentoring Program in Mathematics.
From Spring 2014 to Summer 2016, Dr. Franco served as the college’s Coordinator for Undergraduate Research and in that capacity she: co-led institutional efforts that established undergraduate research as a high-impact practice and launched the research-in-the-classroom modality on campus; was (founding) Campus Director for the CUNY Research Scholars Program; and was the UR Rep to outside organizations such as the Council for Undergraduate Research (CUR) and the CUNY Undergraduate Research Council (CURC). At the department level, Dr. Franco led efforts to establish two research courses in mathematics and helped establish the OUR SUN Award for students engaged in undergraduate research. From Spring 2014 to Summer 2015, Dr. Franco also served as the college’s Research Integrity Officer. She was instrumental in securing Queensborough’s participation in a 2016-2019 NSF-funded project led by the Community College Undergraduate Research Initiative (CCURI) and is a member of the college’s CCURI Team.
Outside of her institution, Dr. Franco holds several leadership and advisory roles in national programs. She is co-PI and co-Director of MSRI-UP, the NSF-REU program hosted at the internationally renowned Mathematical Sciences Research Institute in Berkeley, California. And she is co-PI and co-Director of the NSF-funded Center for Undergraduate Research in Mathematics (CURM). Although these programs differ in nature and structure, both fund undergraduate research opportunities for students from all types of institutions and both address issues of underrepresentation in the mathematical sciences. Additional efforts to address issues of underrepresentation are channeled by Dr. Franco through participation in activities linked to the Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM) and the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans (SACNAS). Dr. Franco is the (founding) advisor of Queensborough’s SACNAS chapter.
In addition, Dr. Franco is a member of the Mathematics Advisory Group for Transforming Post-Secondary Education in Mathematics (TPSE Math). Sponsored by Carnegie Corporation of New York, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and National Science Foundation (NSF), TPSE Math seeks to advance mathematics education reform efforts across the nation and across institutions (from 2-year colleges to research universities).