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Dr. Ershela Sims

Interim President

Senior Vice President for Virtual & Outreach


Dr. Sims is the Interim GSSM President and Senior Vice President for Virtual Education and Outreach Programs. She began her career at GSSM as Vice President for the Accelerate Virtual Engineering Program in 2017, and in 2018 she became the Senior VP for Virtual and Outreach Programs. Prior to GSSM, Dr. Sims was the Dean of Engineering and Technology at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics (NCSSM) which housed the Engineering and Computer Science programs, as well as the Peter T. Haughton Fabrication and Innovation Lab. During her tenure at NCSSM, Dr. Sims developed and taught courses in Statics, Biomedical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Engineering Research, and Biomedical Instrumentation. Most of the courses she taught used a combination of project based learning, design projects, and problem sets to give students a foundation in engineering and teach them skills that will be helpful as they pursue undergraduate degrees in engineering.

Dr. Sims has also been involved in outreach activities through national organizations as well as NCSSM. She was the Director for Step Up to STEM, a 2-week residential STEM program for rising ninth grade students. In addition, she was the lead developer of the Biomedical Engineering (Health and Life Science) strand for on an NCSSM curriculum development project for the NC Dept. of Public Instruction.

In addition to the aforementioned academic interests, Dr. Sims also has an interest in anatomical education and lower extremity biomechanics research. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Biomechanics in the Department of Surgery at Duke University, where she worked on an NIH funded longitudinal study investigating gait mechanics associated with osteoarthritis of the knee. Following her postdoctoral fellowship, she taught anatomy courses in the medical school at Duke University for two years. During her time at Duke University, she published a number of manuscripts on biomechanics, as well as anatomical and medical education. Prior to working in academia, Dr. Sims worked as a software design engineer and later a technical architect at Nortel Networks for five years developing telecommunications software. Following her work in industry, she worked as the Assistant Director of the Duke-UNC Brain Imaging and Analysis Center for two years, where she performed functional MRI research and managed a number of ongoing research projects. She also served as a Visiting Professor in the College of Health Sciences at DeVry University for 7 years where she developed and taught online courses in Pathophysiology.

Dr. Sims is a recipient of the National Society of Black Engineers Dr. Janice A. Lumpkin Educator of the Year award and co-recipient of the National Science Teachers Association Vernier Technology Award. She is also a member of a number of professional organizations and serves on multiple boards including the Clemson General Engineering Advisory Board and the Florence-Darlington County Commission for Technical Education.

Educational Background

  • BSE in Biomedical Engineering Duke University
  • PhD in Biomedical Engineering UNC-Chapel Hill

How long have you worked at GSSM?

Since March 2017.

How long have you worked in academia?

Since 2002 

Tell us what you love about working at GSSM.

The ability to be able to influence education around the state of SC.

Are you a member of any professional organizations?

  • American Society for Engineering Education
  • Biomedical Engineering Society
  • National Society of Black Engineers

Give us a Twitter-style short bio about yourself. 

Engineer. Educator. Foodie. Travel enthusiast. Salsera. Lover of jazz and funk music. ESTJ. Snoopy and the Peanuts gang fanatic. Forever Duke.

What would your students be surprised to learn about you?

About 18 years ago, I used to be a member of two Latin dance groups.

What is your perfect pizza?

Gluten free white pizza with chicken, spinach, and tomatoes.

What's the best thing about Hartsville?    

I have only lived here a few days, but what I liked upon my first visit was the infusion of cultural events into a small town. I also like that I don't have to deal with rush hour traffic on my way to and from work.

What's your favorite quote?

“My fun is working on a project and solving the problems.” ~Walt Disney