Announcing 2024 Tinker Fellow Bridget Druken

We are delighted to announce that Bridget Druken has been awarded our Robert F. Tinker Fellowship for 2024.

Describing her background, Druken begins, “I loved all my classes and subjects in high school.” She then adds, “but really admired my math teachers.” She smiles as she runs down their list of names. She credits one teacher in particular with her love of math. During her junior and senior years, she had the same teacher for pre-calculus and calculus. According to Druken, he “showed us the strength in logic and being rational.” Plus, she laughs, “he encouraged my hundreds of questions I always had!”

Druken now teaches future elementary school, middle school, high school, and community college math teachers as an associate professor in the Department of Mathematics at California State University, Fullerton. And she delights in telling her students the name of her favorite high school math teacher. None other than one Mr. Fullerton.

While her earliest math teachers roused Druken’s love of the subject, she got a taste of teaching during her time as an undergraduate math major at the University of Rhode Island. She became a supplemental instructor for an introductory math class and realized that it felt “really good at the end of the day” to help provide some clarity and support to others.

During college, she also had the opportunity to travel to San Diego State University (SDSU) for a summer internship through the Research Experience for Undergraduates program funded by the National Science Foundation. She says, “I thought California was pretty cool, coming from the small state of Rhode Island, so I applied to graduate school at SDSU for my master’s in mathematics and then SDSU/UCSD [University of California San Diego] for my Ph.D. in mathematics education.” Druken has called California home since driving across the country for the first time in 2008.

She now regularly makes the cross-country trek by car or train—or several trains. During one memorable summer trip, when she was “desperate to take advantage of the Amtrak USA Rail Passes program,” she took nine trains to get from the West Coast to the East Coast. The Concord Consortium has offices in Concord, Massachusetts, and El Cerrito, California, and Druken plans to visit both.

As part of her Tinker Fellowship, which focuses on inclusion, equity, and access in STEM education, Druken will build data science lessons related to social justice issues for K-8 students and teachers. She also hopes to use the time to develop a grant proposal to infuse data science in elementary teacher preparation curriculum. Druken already has bucketloads of experience with CODAP, and has adapted three curriculum modules from the ESTEEM (Enhancing Statistics Teacher Education with E-Modules) project for a class she teaches for middle school math teachers at Cal State Fullerton.

When asked what most excites her about education these days, she replies, “I’m most excited about any opportunity to (re)normalize conversations, attitudes, and perspectives of how mathematical reasoning occurs, what it looks like, what it’s useful for, and who is capable of doing it.” She’s also excited about blending her views of math education with data science and data journalism.

Bridget Druken

When Druken is not teaching, writing, or presenting her research, she enjoys training Peako, her sweet-natured three-year-old mutt. Peako is currently learning to press buttons to communicate and has already learned “eat” and “play,” as well as one of her favorite games—“search.”

As our 2024 Tinker Fellow, Druken herself will be searching through and curating datasets. We look forward to her discoveries.