Encouraging the Next Generation of Scientific Leaders

Joann DiGennaro

What are your students doing this summer?

The Center for Excellence in Education (CEE) offers two summer programs, the Research Science Institute and the USA Biology Olympiad, cost-free to high achieving students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

From June 20 to July 31, 46 of this nation’s top achieving students in STEM studies, three of whom are Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) scholars, along with 27 students from abroad, will gather at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for the annual Research Science Institute (RSI). Twenty of this nation’s top biology scholars will gather at Purdue University for the USA Biology Olympiad (USABO) from June 6–18.

The Research Science Institute, jointly sponsored by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and CEE, provides a unique opportunity for young scholars who are rising seniors or the equivalent to engage in cutting-edge graduate-level research and connect with like-minded peers. RSI Students, fondly referred to as "Rickoids" after the late Admiral H.G. Rickover, Father of the Nuclear Navy and Founder of the Center with CEE’s President, Joann DiGennaro, participate in one week of academic courses at MIT and then spend four weeks in research internships under the mentorship of leading scientists and researchers in the Boston area. The program culminates with each student completing an academic paper and presenting their findings to their peers and a panel of judges.

RSI alumni have included 432 Intel Science Talent Search (STS) semifinalists, of whom eight have been first-place winners. In 2010, 60% of the top 10 awardees were alumni of RSI. Alumni are also predominately recognized in the Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology (awarded the first place prize in 2007), and as Rhodes and Marshall Scholars and Fields Medalists.

Please contact Maite Ballestero, Vice President of Programs for CEE for more information about the RSI.

The USABO program, jointly sponsored by Purdue University and CEE, trains future leaders in the biological sciences. The USABO is a four-tier competition which consists of an open exam, a semifinal exam, the National Finals program culminating in a final exam, and Team USA’s participation in the International Biology Olympiad (IBO). National finalists spend two weeks on Purdue’s campus studying with leading U.S. biology professors in the subjects of cellular biology, microbiology, biotechnology, plant anatomy & physiology, animal anatomy & physiology, ethology, genetics & evolution, ecology, and biosystematics.

In 2004, Team USA won an unprecedented four gold medals in Brisbane, Australia, a feat accomplished for the first time in Biology Olympiad history. In 2009, for the third consecutive year, Team USA took home four gold medals at the International Biology Olympiad.

Please contact Kathy Frame, USABO Director for more information about the USABO competition.

What are you doing this summer?

The Center for Excellence in Education has just launched the National Lab Skills Initiative to address the challenges of instruction and learning in our nation’s high school laboratories, particularly in rural and urban communities. The mission of the Initiative is to assure a future talented and diverse U.S. workforce in STEM. CEE plans to roll out the National Lab Skills Initiative in Virginia and Indiana this fall. Based on the findings in these states, the program will then be inaugurated in 8–11 states before national replication.

As part of the Initiative, CEE will develop an online mentor program for Master Teachers of science education to connect with less experienced teachers, many from rural and urban areas. The Center will create a clearinghouse of laboratory experiments and lesson plans as a resource for these teachers as a component of CEE’s Teachers Resource Center. Master Teachers of science education are encouraged to take an integral role in this exciting endeavor by submitting one or more laboratory experiences. They may be hands-on or virtual and exhibit aspects of sustainability, cost effectiveness, assessment, and replicability. It is also encouraged that activities involve public/private partnerships.

Please contact Gillian Goldmark, the National Lab Skills Initiative Manager for more information and to become involved with this project. Visit CEE’s Web site, to learn more about the Center and its programs and initiatives.

About CEE

The mission of the Center for Excellence in Education is to nurture high school and university scholars to careers of excellence and leadership in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, and to encourage international collaboration among leaders in the global community. CEE has contributed to the scientific leadership of this country since its founding in 1983 by recruiting intellectually gifted and talented students and nurturing them through exceptionally designed programs to new academic heights to become tomorrow’s leaders in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Joann DiGennaro is the president of the Center for Excellence in Education.

Disclaimer - The articles and opinion pieces found in this issue of the APS Forum on Education Newsletter are not peer refereed and represent solely the views of the authors and not necessarily the views of the APS.