Mary M. Atwater is an inaugural Fellow of the America Educational Research Association, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a past president of NARST: A Worldwide Organization for Improving Science Teaching and Learning through Research. In April, 2017, she was then elected again to a three-year term as Chair of the CADASE RIG where she led the effort to establish CADASE, NARST’s first research interest group (RIG) and served as its elected Chair until she was elected President-elect of NARST. She received the 2021- 2022 Methodist University Distinguished Alumni Award from Methodist University in Fayetteville, NC. The Dr. Mary Atwater Endowed Scholarship has been named after her from the Methodist University Black Alumni because she was the first Black to graduate from her alma mater. Recently, The Mary Atwater Prize for the Best Graduating Female Student in the College of Natural and Applied Sciences, Crawford University, funded by the Okebukola Science Foundation, will begin to be awarded in her name to the best graduating female student at Crawford University in 2024. She has been the principal investigator or co-principal investigator of several federally funded and privately funded grants totally over $3.9 million annd was the PI of NSF-funded EAGER grant entitled “Exploring Racial Microaggression in Science Education”. She plans to continue this research work during her retirement. Her publications include articles, book chapters, edited books, and a co-authored K-8 science program.

Areas of Expertise

  • multicultural science education
  • science teacher education
  • chemical education
  • college science teaching and learning


  • socio-cultural-political factors that influence science learning and teaching
  • college science teaching and learning
  • chemical education



  •  Ph.D. in Science Education (minor chemistry), 1980
    North Carolina State University
  •  M.A. in Physical Organic Chemistry, 1972
    University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
  •  B.S. in Chemistry, 1969
    Methodist College (currently Methodist University)