Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Origin of Species celebrates 150 years of publication

There is a grandeur in this view of life, with its
several powers having been originally breathed into
a few forms or into one: and that while this planet
has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of
gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms
most beautiful and most wonderful have been and
are being evolved.

— Charles Darwin in the The Origin of Species

On this day in 1859, Charles Darwin most compelling (and the most important thesis in biological sciences) was published. The book sold out on the first day. The controversial, yet enlightening book about how life - vegetable, animal, and human - has come to be and exist in the state and form that it is in - has informed the academy, inspired creative experiments, and shocked the general public beyond belief. Then and now.

Evolution. Natural Selection. Sexual Selection. Variation. Change over time. Nature.

Throughout the year, the scientific community has been celebrating many science initiatives, but not the least of which is the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth on February 12th and now the 150th anniversary of the publishing of Origin of Species.

Man, just like Kayne to interupt and not let Charles Darwin enjoy the celebration.

Related posts:
Understanding Evolution - summary of the concept at the University of California - Berkeley Evolution website
Charles Darwin was a Naturalist, Just Like You! - an intro to Charles Darwin & birthday post by me
Alfred Russel Wallace - wikipedia summary, to get an understanding of the Kanye joke.
Lives of the Saints of Science: Darwin - by Thus Spake Zuska who offers a critique of Darwin the man

Monday, November 23, 2009

Educate to Innovate: Promoting Science and Math Education

President Obama is scheduled to announce a campaign to enlist companies and nonprofit groups to spend money, time and volunteer effort to encourage students, especially in middle and high school, to pursue science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The campaign - "Educate to Innovate" will primarily focus on informal education opportunities such as after-school activities, mentoring opportunities with scientists and researchers, plus quality science and math promotion television. So far, Elmo and Big Bird have signed up and the MacArthur Foundation is sweetening the pot to encourage video game designers to create educational gaming software. In addition to Sesame Street and many professional science societies signing on, big media outlets and stepping in also, donating money, equipment, and television time.

Is it me or does this sound like President Obama tried to scoop the upcoming edition of Diversity in Science Carnival -
Broad Impacts II: Programs to promote STEM Diversity among K-12 students and general audiences?

Well, maybe not a scoop, but that sure is great timing. You all know how much I love theme-related carnivals. I'll take Obama's move as his official endorsement of the awesomeness of the science outreach and overall interest in participating in the upcoming DiS Carnival. When the official announcement comes out, I'll assume that White House is submitting that post to the upcoming carnival. I know they have their hands full so I'll submit it for them.

Read the entire news story published in the Science section of the New York Times. White House Plans Campaign to Promote Science and Math Education, November 22, 2009.


President Obama Launches "Educate to Innovate" Campaign for Excellence in Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (Stem) Education
Nationwide effort includes over $260 million in public-private investments to move American students to the top of the packin science and math achievement over the next decade.

From the White House Office of the Press Secretary, Official Press Release:

President Obama today launched the “Educate to Innovate” campaign, a nationwide effort to help reach the administration’s goal of moving American students from the middle to the top of the pack in science and math achievement over the next decade.

Speaking to key leaders of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) community and local students, President Obama announced a series of high-powered partnerships involving leading companies, foundations, non-profits, and science and engineering societies dedicated to motivating and inspiring young people across America to excel in science and math.

Among the initiatives announced by the President are:
  • Five public-private partnerships that harness the power of media, interactive games, hands-on learning, and 100,000 volunteers to reach more than 10 million students over the next four years, inspiring them to be the next generation of makers, discoverers, and innovators. These partnerships represent a combined commitment of over $260 million in financial and in-kind support.

  • An annual science fair at the White House, showcasing the student winners of national competitions in areas such as science, technology, and robotics.

President Obama has identified three overarching priorities for STEM education:

  1. increasing STEM literacy so all students can think critically in science, math, engineering and technology;

  2. improving the quality of math and science teaching so American students are no longer outperformed by those in other nations; and

  3. expanding STEM education and career opportunities for underrepresented groups, including women and minorities.

Okay Mr. President and Secretary Duncan, I take this as your official submission to the upcoming Diversity in Science Carnival.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Diversity in Science Carnival #4 – Increasing Diversity among the college ranks

Exactly one year ago, I laid the roots to the Diversity in Science Carnival, but I did not know it. As I was beginning to assemble this edition, I found myself typing words, phrases and sentiments that were all too familiar.
Something about the state and statistics of under-represented minorities in STEM - “The very large racial Ph.D. gap in the natural sciences is striking when we examine black Ph.D. awards in specific disciplines”.

I soon remembered that I had written about this topic; and this is where this edition of DiS Carnival: Examining STEM Diversity and Broad Impacts at the College Level and beyond – will begin: Increasing Diversity in the Sciences.

Did you know that Hispanics/Latinos currently comprise just over 5% of the professional STEM workforce, although their proportion of US residents is around 12%? In Si se puede - Hispanics and STEM, Liz of STEM-ology frames the topic as multi-national issue. Both the United States and Mexico need to address this matter in order to increase the number of Latinos in the STEM pipeline – on both sides of the border.

What can be done to attract more women in science? Well, let’s ask the 4 women who earned the most prestigious award in science – the Nobel Prize. In Advice from Four Nobel Prize Winners, Roberta of Growing with Science Blog summarizes their recommendations published in Science Magazine via the Association for Women in Science (AWIS). AWIS, by the way, is a champion of STEM diversity and outreach to all, particularly for women and girls.

(l) Carol W. Greider -Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2009
(r) Elizabeth H. Blackburn - Nobel Prize in Physiology
Photos care of Gerbil, Licensed by Attribution Share Alike 3.0

Related to that, the Smithsonian’s Blog – Surprising Science - shares with us that Girls CAN do Math (Duh). Despite the long tradition of girls shying away from math and science, there is no biological evidence that girls are incapable of performing well in these subjects.

Mentorship and praise matter – to all people. Some organizations promote diversity by highlighting the achievements of individuals (and organizations) that share science with broader audiences. In particular the American Institute of Biological Sciences recognizes diversity in the biological sciences with awards to individuals and institutions who promote diversity, written by yours truly.

Raising the profile of minority scientists or institutions that support them is one of the goals of a panel I and Anne Jefferson of Highly Allochthonous will lead at ScienceOnline 2010. “In the United States, we have a diversity problem in the geosciences. Less than 5% of BS degrees in geosciences go to minorities, contrasting with ~15% in science and engineering as a whole.” In Casting a Wider Net: Opportunities for Enhancing Diversity in the Geosciences, she introduces us to the NSF –OEDG program (Opportunities for Enhancing Diversity in the Geosciences).

Speaking of the NSF, the National Science Foundation is perhaps the most important benefactor for science diversity. They provide the financial means for scientists and engineers to do research and teach. In Increasing STEM Diversity with Funding Opportunities, I share a host of funding resources that specifically geared to students from underrepresented groups.

However, Kim Hannula of All of My Faults are Stress Related gets to the heart of the matter - What experiences bring minority students into the geosciences - and what ones drive them away? We can spout numbers, send students to meetings, and dole out big bucks; but the truth is we’ve got to figure out what is it about STEM that attracts or sours some people. Until we’re brave enough to have these conversations, our collective efforts to diversify STEM fields will be less effective.

Join us next month as we further explore this topic of STEM Diversity and Broad Impacts II: Pre-college and Programs for general audiences. Please prepare and submit your posts about successful, ambitious and inspiring diversity programs for youth and general audiences such as after-school programs, summer institutes, and citizen science programs sponsored by museums and universities.
Submission Deadline: December 21st. Submit here.
Carnival Post date: December 27th
Hosted by:

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Increasing STEM Diversity with Funding Opportunities

The best way for an institution to promote diversity among the scholars involved in STEM is to put their money where their mouths are. Funding outreach programs, research and educational opportunities, scholarships, and travel to conference is the most effective way to attract and retain a diverse body to STEM. I have been personally fortunate, nay, blessed to have had an ample amount of funding for my graduate education and dissertation research.

In this post I will share the funding resources I am familiar with that are designed to increase access to STEM to students from underrepresented groups.

The National Science Foundation funds the Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) program. AGEP is a network of universities dedicated to increasing the number of underrepresented minorities obtaining graduate degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics by proving multi-year fellowships along with ample funds for research and attending conferences. Much of my doctorate education has been funded by NSF-AGEP.

Ford Foundation Fellowship Program seeks to increase the diversity of the nation’s college and university faculties by increasing their ethnic and racial diversity, to maximize the educational benefits of diversity, and to increase the number of professors who can and will use diversity as a resource for enriching the education of all students. They offer pre-doctoral, dissertation, and post-doctoral fellowships to support scholars with tuition, research funding, and stipend/salary.

The Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) offers fellowships to minorities seeing PhDs in STEM who later intend to become college professors. SREB offers two awards, a pre-doctoral award and a dissertation year award to cover tuition, research funding and a stipend.

The UNCF•Merck Science Initiative awards scholarships and fellowships to African-American students in science and biomedical research. This program provides tuition, research funding, and stipend/salary to its scholars.

State of Missouri Department of Natural Resources – Environmental Education Scholarship Program for students from underrepresented groups pursuing a bachelor’s or master’s degree in an environmental course of study. Applications are due June 1 of each year.

NSF Minority Postdoctoral Research Fellowship – though the National Science Foundation is re-organizing its divisions and awards, there are still providing research grants to postdoctoral candidates. These fellowships support training and research in science, technology, engineering and mathematics

Attending scientific conferences also offer opportunities to recruit promising students to STEM fields. Now, many professional societies offer scholarships to attend these meetings and offer great mentoring and networking opportunities to students.

The Compact for Faculty Diversity is a coalition of organizations such as SREB, NSF-AGEP, and others; each year they host the Institute on Teaching and Mentoring. This four-day conference has become the largest gathering of minority doctoral scholars in the country and provides scholars with the skills necessary to succeed in graduate study and to prepare them for success as faculty members at colleges and universities.

The Animal Behavior Society, my professional society, has long been a champion of diversity at the undergraduate, graduate, and faculty levels. The society offers three types of awards for students to attend its annual international meeting.
1. Charles H. Turner Program covers registration, travel and lodging and hosts a special mentoring workshops for undergraduate participation at the annual Society meetings
2. The Diversity Grant covers registration fees for graduate students attending the annual ABS Meeting, with the goal of broadening the minority and ethnic representation
3. Latin American Travel Awards are intended to encourage greater participation of Latin American researchers in ABS meetings, by helping to defray the costs of international travel, housing and/or meals at meetings.

The Society of Wetland Scientists offers a full travel award to undergraduate students to attend its annual meeting. The Diversity Program Undergraduate Mentoring Awards is in its 7th year and has been well received by the students who have participated. The award represents a great opportunity to participate in a professional meeting and benefit from a formal mentoring program. To attend the June 27 – July 2, 2010 meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah, students must complete an application, due December 4, 2009.

SEEDS (Strategies for Ecology Education, Diversity and Sustainability: Diverse People for a Diverse Science) is an education program of the Ecological Society of America. Its mission is to diversify and advance the profession of ecology through opportunities that stimulate and nurture the interest of underrepresented students. Focused at the undergraduate level, opportunities sponsored by the program include student field trips, undergraduate research fellowships, ESA Annual Meeting travel awards, and campus ecology chapters.

The Dr. John P. Rier Jr. Biology Student Travel Fund provides money to cover travel expenses to students presenting research at professional meetings and for those who need to travel to conduct their research. I have been a recipient of this award twice and these funds come in handy, especially attending expensive international conferences.

Monday, November 16, 2009

American Institute of Biological Sciences recognizes diversity in the biological sciences

Earlier this year I received an award from the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS). AIBS is a scientific society of life science educators and researchers, K-12 teachers and college professors, dedicated to sharing biological discovery and knowledge. AIBS recognized and promoted the achievements of underrepresented minorities, including persons with disabilities, in the biological sciences. The students are competitively selected to be part of the AIBS Diversity Scholars program. This year, I was selected as the 2009 Diversity Scholar, the last one it seems.

Though the Diversity Scholars Award has ended, AIBS continues to administer the AIBS Diversity Leadership Awards Program which recognizes institutional programs that recruit and retain underrepresented minorities in the biological sciences. This is a bigger bang for the buck recognition. Both of these programs are examples of STEM Diversity initiatives done right. Long before the NSF mandates of Broader Impact – another important STEM Diversity Initiative – AIBS always carried the banner of broader impact. Through professional development opportunities, it’s journals and public programs, AIBS serves those interested in sharing science – K-12 educators, general public and informal science institutions, and college professors and researchers.

AIBS is the flagship of science outreach for the life science.

AIBS Education resources - lesson plans, activities, activities and career info.
ActionBioscience.org - a free-access bilingual Web site that focuses on topical issues in biodiversity, the environment, evolution, biotechnology, genomics, new frontiers, and education.
BioScience - peer-review journalproviding overviews of current biological research and education.

The Year of Science is a 12 monthe celebration of how science works, why science matters, and who scientists are. Led by participants in the COPUS network, learn more about the process of science at Understanding Science.org.

Though a short-lived program, the AIBS Diversity Scholars Award is an awesome achievement for a junior scientist. Our scientific achievements, as well as our work to broaden participation in science to others, are recognized very early in our careers. I was, and still am, quite honored to have been nominated by my professional science society – the Animal Behavior Society – for my service to the organization and to the discipline and then later selected among a pool of equally qualified candidates across the biological science spectrum.

Receiving my award from Susan Musante, AIBS Education Office Staff, at the 2009 AIBS Annual Meeting in Washington, DC.

Press release announcing me winning the award: FirstScience News AIBS recognizes diversity in the biological sciences

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Veterans Day

I came to realize that many urban natural areas are parks and monuments dedicated to commemorate the service of our Military Veterans and our Solider dead. These solemn places offer great landscaped natural beauty and a time to reflect upon the importance of military service to the civilian population.
Photos from the St. Louis Soldier Memorial & American Legion monuments.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Call for Submissions: Diversity in Science Carnival

Write your post or share a link to a previous post for the next edition of the Diversity in Science Carnival. This carnival celebrates the people of science and engineering and this month we celebrate pipeline programs that promote student and faculty diversity at our higher learning institutions.

STEM Diversity and Broad Impacts I: Highlights of successful, ambitious STEM diversity programs such as REUs, mentoring programs and scholarships for college under-graduates, graduate students, post-doctoral associates and early career scientists and engineers.

Submission Deadline: November 15th
Carnival Post date: November 20th
Hosted by: Yours truly at Urban Science Adventures! ©
Visit this link to submit to the November DiS Carnival.
Articles submitted will be apart of the ongoing discussion in preparation for an upcoming workshop at ScienceOnline2010 - Casting a wider net: Promoting gender and ethnic diversity in STEM – co-moderated by me (D.N.Lee) and Anne Jefferson.
Check it out and join the conversation.
Submit an article now.

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