UF Ph.D. Student Nabs First-Ever ETS Award

Dennis Parnell, Jr. wins inaugural Robert “Bob” Moses Scholarship.

UF Ph.D. Student Nabs First-Ever ETS Award

Posted: December 1, 2023

University of Florida Ph.D. student Dennis Parnell, Jr. received the first-ever Robert “Bob” Moses Scholarship from the Education Testing Service (ETS) at this year’s annual ETS scholarship reception in Princeton, New Jersey.

Parnell — pictured above with ETS CEO Amit Sevak (left) and ETS Center for Advocacy and Philanthropy Executive Director Dr. Jamal Watson (right) — is a McKnight Doctoral Fellow pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Engineering Education at UF. His prior degrees include a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering (University of Alabama, 2019) and a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (University of Florida, 2021).

He is also a graduate research assistant in the PRISEM Lab under advisor Dr. Jeremy Waisome. He is supported by National Science Foundation (NSF) Award 2147625 — Integrating Artificial Intelligence (AI) Machine Learning into the Teaching of Paleontology Using Fossil Shark Teeth in Middle Schools — through which he engages in educational research related to student and teacher AI self-efficacy.

Parnell’s doctoral research focuses on utilizing emerging learning technologies as workforce development strategies to broaden participation in engineering. His work designs and assesses interventions for extracurricular and cocurricular activities for students throughout the educational ecosystem. His outreach to youth in the Gainesville area introduces them to STEM pathways for academic and career opportunities.

The Robert “Bob” Moses Scholarship, which he received as a one-time award of $15,000, is named for American educator and civil rights pioneer Robert “Bob” Moses (1935-2021). Moses founded The Algebra Project in 1982 as a nationwide mathematics literacy program. That initiative helps low-income students and students of color achieve high school math skills that are prerequisites for college prep mathematics.

Parnell’s selection as this award’s first-ever recipient bears witness to his exceptional dedication to both his education and the community — and shows the national attention that Grad Gators at UF garner because of their focus, drive, impact, and innovation.