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SCSE Director

One of my favorite activities is to float in a well-crafted canoe on a beautiful lake or river. I love feeling the motion of the water and the wind, seeing the surrounding landscapes and knowing the organisms and processes that form those landscapes. My fascination with the sciences comes from wanting to better understand things like why water is able to support a canoe, how organisms and ecosystems work, and what processes form landscapes. I have a passion for sharing this understanding with others.

My educational path in pursuing these questions has taken me through an undergraduate degree in Chemistry (North Park University), time as a technician in a cell biology laboratory, and a Ph.D. in Plant Biology (University of Minnesota). I have been on the NEIU Biology Faculty since 2002, and I have also enjoyed working with science students at other places like Carnegie Mellon Univerisity’s Doha, Qatar campus, St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN and at Institut Mbenga High School in the Democratic Republic of Congo. My current research interests in plant conservation genetics take me and my students to populations of rare plants and their relatives in places like Minnesota, Maine and Newfoundland.

As director of the Student Center for Science Engagement (SCSE) it is my goal to facilitate positive and transformative experiences for Northeastern students in the STEM disciplines. We in the SCSE office work with Northeastern's STEM departments to help students successfully chart their paths to careers in the sciences. We offer advising, tutoring, connections to research opportunities, connections to internship opportunities, and much more! Please come to see what we do.


Physical Sciences Advisor & Interim Life Sciences Advisor


STEM Transfer Advisor

I am the STEM transfer advisor who works with students transferring from Chicago-area community colleges into science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) majors at Northeastern Illinois University. I assist and support prospective, incoming and current students in the following departments: biology, chemistry, computer science, earth science, mathematics, physics and psychology. 

Before I came to Northeastern, I worked with prospective and incoming transfer and first year students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I also have experience as a science teacher at the middle and high school levels and as a science educator for the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. I received my bachelor’s degree in biology with a minor in environmental science and a Master’s of Education in secondary education and biology. In my free time, I volunteer as a canoe guide with the Friends of the Chicago River and enjoy cooking and traveling.

Tammi Dobbins

Office Manager



The Student Center for Science Engagement (SCSE) mission of supporting student success in the sciences is an extension of mission of NEIU’s STEM departments.   Its work is overseen and facilitated by the SCSE Executive Board.  This board is made up of the Director, the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) (or designee), and an elected faculty representative from the departments of  Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Earth Science, Mathematics, and Physics, and an advisory representative from the department of Psychology.

Membership of the current Executive Board: Dr. Joel Olfelt (Director), Dr. Marcelo Sztainberg (Associate Dean, CAS), Dr. Cindy Voisine (Biology), Dr. Ken Nicholson (Chemistry), Dr. Francisco Iacobelli (Computer Science), Dr. Elisabet Head (Earth Science), Dr. Lidia Filius (Mathematics), Dr. Gregory Anderson (Physics) and Dr. Ruth Church (Psychology).


Student Center for Science Engagement


T (773) 442-5636


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