Kallie (Ziltz) Pearl

Kallie (Ziltz) Pearl

Kallie (Ziltz) Pearl Named Percy Hughes Award Recipient

Pearl, who joined Lehigh's faculty in 2020, has developed innovative ways to engage students in computer science.

This year’s recipient of the Percy Hughes Award received multiple nominations from faculty and students across the Lehigh community. Kallie (Ziltz) Pearl '16 '17 '18G '24 Ph.D. is a four-time Lehigh alumna, most recently graduating from the College of Education’s Teaching, Learning and Technology (TLT) program with her doctoral degree.

Pearl joined the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science faculty in 2020, where she has developed innovative ways to engage students—especially women and other underrepresented populations—in computer science.

“Teaching is something that I was born to do,” she says. “But I have been so blessed to cultivate an interdisciplinary niche for myself between computer science and education.”

LILAC (Looping Interactive Learning and Authentic Contexts) is the acronym Pearl uses to describe the innovative approach she developed with colleagues to improve student engagement and learning. In her nomination of Pearl, TLT professor and program director Brook Sawyer explains, “Kallie’s mission of improving Lehigh’s computer science courses has been unwavering since she has been an undergraduate student herself, struggling to feel like she fit in computer science as a woman.”

Former student Alexia Drey noted Pearl’s generosity of spirit and support for her students in her award nomination.

“Dr. Pearl wants each and every one of her students to know that they can and will succeed in her course if they put in the effort, despite being from a traditionally underrepresented group,” Drey says. “She inspires her students every day, and her passion and love for computer science shines through every time you interact with her.”

A tireless advocate for women in computing, Pearl led a group of students attending the Grace Hopper Celebration this past fall. Nominator and program director Sharon Kalafut says Pearl came to her years ago with the idea to start a Women in Computing Club within the COE. Today, Pearl serves as the faculty advisor for the club. During the summer and weekends, she has worked with middle school students as part of the Women in Science & Engineering (WISE) days and Charting Horizons and Opportunities in Careers in Engineering and Science (CHOICES) program at Lehigh as well as the DaVinci Center in Allentown.

In his nomination TLT faculty advisor Tom Hammond notes, “The most visible impact of Kallie’s work is her publications, which span both academic journals, such as the International Journal of Computer Auditing, popular outlets such as the Huffington Post and presentations including keynote and panelist roles for the WISE initiative.”

“I see myself in the work Hughes accomplished, and know that my path would not be as clear without folks like him paving the way,” says Pearl. “I don't see my work in the classroom and as an educational researcher as big or bold, but I know that it is important to push Lehigh to emerge as a strategic leader in high-quality education.”

Over the course of his 35-year tenure at Lehigh, Percy Hughes used the responsibility of scholarship to pursue social change and transform the Lehigh culture. By committing himself to interdisciplinary work and humanistic principles, he furthered Lehigh’s tradition of scientific and classical education. From women’s rights to environmentalism, Hughes devoted his life to historically progressive ideas.

The Percy Hughes Award for Scholarship, Humanity and Social Change is awarded annually by the College of Education to honor a Lehigh community member who works towards implementing transformative ideas in the local, national and world communities. Since the award's inception in 2010, nine individuals have been recognized for their work addressing the world's most pressing challenges. Award recipients are leaders who not only foster Lehigh's historic educational mission, values and core beliefs but also push Lehigh in new directions and heights of excellence.

To learn more about Hughes and the Percy Hughes Award, visit https://ed.lehigh.edu/insidecoe/awards/percy-hughes-award.

Story by Beth Blew.

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