Daft, Hobbs, and Perry Judge Local STEAM Fairs

Academics, Community, News

By Merritt Jenkins

Three faculty from the Lee University Department of Natural Sciences, Dr. Joseph Daft, Dr. Pamela Hobbs, and Dana Perry, recently judged local STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fairs at area high schools.

Daft and Hobbs judged the McMinn County High School STEAM Fair in Athens, Tennessee, on Dec. 7, and on Dec. 10, Hobbs and Perry judged the McMinn Central High School STEAM Fair in Englewood, Tennessee.

Both Hobbs and Perry are alumni of the McMinn County educational system, graduating from McMinn Central High School in 1981.

“We all believe in giving back to the community and encouraging high school students to consider a future in science, math, and engineering and take part in opportunities like the STEAM fairs,” said Hobbs.

Students began work on their projects in September, with the first phase of review occurring in individual science classrooms. Teachers advanced qualifying projects to the school-level competitions where projects were divided for judging into 9th/10th grade and 11th/12th grade categories. Each category was judged by a Lee science professor and a Denso engineer.

Winning projects will continue research for the county-level competition held on Feb. 5. Winners of the county competition will advance to the Chattanooga Regional Science and Engineering Fair this spring.

“The goal of the McMinn County School System STEAM Fair is to provide an avenue for students to express their scientific creativity and problem-solving abilities while using 21st century skills,” said Cynthia Studdard Moses, secondary science instructional coach for McMinn County Schools. “It is our vision that students who complete projects in this event will go on to become professionals in the many different fields in our community and abroad. We are so appreciative of the support from Lee University and Denso and the valuable feedback that their representatives give our students through the project judging process.”

Daft, an associate professor of biology and health science, joined Lee’s College of Arts and Sciences in 2015. He earned his doctorate in pathology with a focus on diabetes-based pathology and immunology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and his Bachelor of Science from Juniata College. While at UAB, Daft served as a graduate research assistant and teaching assistant. He has also been a research fellow at the University of Toledo and an adjunct professor at the University of Montevallo.

Hobbs, a licensed physical therapist in Florida and Tennessee, joined the Department of Natural Sciences in 2015 where she serves as assistant professor at Lee. She has worked as a clinical instructor for physical therapy students and has had numerous positions in the physical therapy profession including serving on the faculty at the University of South Alabama. She has also worked at Emory University as a research specialist and has presented at national meetings and continuing education workshops and seminars. Hobbs earned her Doctor of Physical Therapy from the College of St. Scholastica, a Master of Public Health and Master of Science from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and a Bachelor of Science from Middle Tennessee University.

Perry has been a lecturer in health science at Lee since 2019. She has also completed research for the Tennessee Department of Health, Communicable and Environmental Disease services. Perry is a member of the American Society of Microbiology, the American Society of Clinical Pathology, and the Tennessee Academy of Science. She has also presented at the Southern Association of Clinical Microbiology on “Infections of Leisure: Acquiring mycobacterial infections during leisure pursuits.”

For more information about the STEAM Fair, contact Moses at or call (423) 506-0244.

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