Name: Kevin C. Cooke
Department: STEM Education and Research Policy
Title: Director, Research Policy
Date you joined APLU: September 2022
What was your first real job?
I worked as a math and science tutor at Sussex County Community College near where I grew up in New Jersey. While I was helping students get through their assignments, I was always impressed by the amount of work being done at community colleges and how many students are being helped by their services!
How did you end up working at APLU?
Prior to APLU, I was a AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow working at the National Science Foundation assisting with the strategic visioning of the Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR). EPSCoR addresses longstanding geographic trends in research funding and seeks to improve the research capacity of institutions in states and territories historically under-awarded by NSF. It gave me a wide view of the research enterprise that I wanted to take to the next level by working for APLU.
What education or work experience had the greatest impact on you?
My days as a Ph.D. student at the Rochester Institute of Technology were incredibly formative for me. I was given a lot of freedom to explore science communication and student representation alongside my research, and this holistic experience encouraged me to pursue research policy as a long-term goal.
What motivates you to work in higher education?
Whenever I read the histories of science, or of events like the marshaling of the U.S. workforce during the Space Race, I’m struck by the simultaneous scale of the effort and how many have been ignored or ostracized. The country needs as many workers with advanced or specialized educations as possible, and everyone should feel and experience that they have a place and voice.
What is your favorite thing about living in DC?
The variety of museums never stops impressing me! I still need to visit the Spy Museum or the Postal Museum.
What is one thing on your bucket list?
I’d like to complete my pilgrimage to the retirement sites of the space shuttle orbiter fleet. I’ve been able to visit Enterprise, Discovery, and Endeavour, but I need to visit Florida to see Atlantis!
What’s the last book you read?
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas S. Kuhn. It’s a classic that asserts that revolutions in science are re-arrangements of the context of previously acquired knowledge with redefined norms and anomalies.
What’s the first thing you do when you look at your phone in the morning?
I try and check the global news feeds. So much of my work is specific to the U.S. that I try to make sure I purposefully pay attention to events from around the globe.