Promoting STEM, Diversity, and Outreach

I'm delighted to write the first blog for my new website. I had several major goals in mind for the new web pages. In particular, I wanted to:

  • highlight some of the research I’m doing, as well as some of the work going on in the School of Natural Sciences at UC Merced
  • provide access to important information about our school for prospective students and researchers
  • highlight the field of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) and its value to society as a whole 
  • speak out on a variety of diversity and outreach activities and in particular for STEM fields

With regard to the last two topics, I was recently at the AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) conference that was held February 16-20 in Boston. It was an exciting time, full of great seminars and wonderful speakers. This year, it was especially worthwhile as there were a number of great talks on the critical need for scientists to speak out on the importance and value of evidence and data driven science policy. 

If you get a chance, I urge you to check out some of the talks, many of which can be found here. In particular, I enjoyed the talks by Dr. James Gates on Science and Evidence-Based Policymaking and by Dr. Naomi Oreskes (The Scientist as Sentinel) both of which gave powerful arguments for the need of all scientists to participate in science policy decisions.

I was also delighted to be present when two of my dearest friends received awards for their contributions to science and mentorship. Dr. Richard Tapia received the AAAS Public Engagement with Science Award. I’ve known Richard for over 40 years and there are few people who have done more to advance the cause of underrepresented minorities in STEM fields than him. He has been a role model for many students and this award recognizes someone who has been able to combine great scholarship with great mentoring.

Dr. Maggie Werner-Washburne also received the AAAS Mentor Award for Lifetime Achievement. Maggie has been a selfless and dedicated mentor to many hundreds of students throughout her career. I had the great pleasure of working with Maggie during her time as president of SACNAS and I know firsthand that she worked tirelessly initiating new activities and served as an incredible role model to students in all areas. She was truly a deserving recipient of this award.

Also, many thanks to ScienceSites who have been incredibly patient in helping me put these new web pages together. I would welcome any feedback you have and if you have any suggestions for blog topics or just general feedback on these web pages, please feel free to contact me directly.