(BPRW) Council of the Great City Schools Names 2014 Math and Science Scholars
Urban students receive scholarships from ExxonMobil and Dr. Bernard Harris
(BLACK PR WIRE) – WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Four graduating high school seniors have been named recipients of the 2014 ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Math and Science Scholarship by the Council of the Great City Schools (CGCS), selected from several hundred applicants nationwide for their academic performance, leadership qualities and community involvement.
The scholarship program was created by former astronaut Dr. Bernard Harris Jr., the first African American to walk in space, and ExxonMobil to help underrepresented students pursue science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) studies and to increase diversity in the STEM workforce.
The awards are given annually to African-American and Hispanic seniors from high schools in the 67 urban school districts represented by CGCS.
“These scholarships create a launching pad for talented students to pursue postsecondary studies and careers in the challenging STEM fields,” said Michael Casserly, executive director, Council of the Great City Schools. “With the generous support of ExxonMobil and Dr. Harris, these young men and women have an opportunity to reach the stars and become innovators and leaders of tomorrow.”
Each scholar will receive $5,000 for continued education in a STEM-related field. This year’s award winners are:
• Deandra Chetram, Charles W. Flanagan High School, Pembroke Pines, FL, Broward County Public Schools;
• Bridgette LaFaye, Woodrow Wilson High School, Washington, DC, District of Columbia Public Schools;
• Leonardo Sanchez-Noya, John A. Ferguson Senior High School, Miami, FL, Miami-Dade County Public Schools; and,
• Ezra Zerihun, The Early College at Guilford, Greensboro, NC, Guilford County Public Schools.
In the fall, Ms. Chetram will attend the University of Florida to study biology. Ms. LaFaye is going to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to pursue a career in materials science and engineering. Mr. Sanchez-Noya will study biomedical engineering at Yale University, and Mr. Zerihun plans to major in computer science at North Carolina State University.
“Our country is driven by our ability to create and develop the most advanced technologies and solutions,” said Dr. Harris. “Engineers and scientists are the catalysts, and by providing these scholarships, we are planting seeds in the minds of these bright young students, especially those from diverse backgrounds, to support their interest in the exciting and rewarding careers in STEM.”
Administration of the scholarship program, including the application process, pre-selection and presentation of awards, is provided by the CGCS. Dr. Harris participates in the final selection of the recipients.
About The Council of the Great City Schools
The Council of the Great City Schools is the only national organization exclusively representing the needs of urban public schools. Composed of 67 large city school districts, its mission is to promote the cause of urban schools and to advocate for inner-city students through legislation, research and media relations. The organization also provides a network for school districts sharing common problems to exchange information, and to collectively address new challenges as they emerge in order to deliver the best possible education for urban youth. www.cgcs.org
Exxon Mobil Corporation, the largest publicly traded international oil and gas company, uses technology and innovation to help meet the world’s growing energy needs. ExxonMobil engages in a range of philanthropic activities that advance education, with a focus on math and science in the U.S., promote women as catalysts for development, and combat malaria. In 2013, together with its employees and retirees, ExxonMobil, its divisions and affiliates, and the ExxonMobil Foundation provided $269 million in contributions worldwide, of which $100 million was directed toward education. Additional information on ExxonMobil’s community partnerships and contribution programs is available at www.exxonmobil.com/community.
About The Harris Foundation
Founded in 1998, The Harris Foundation is a 501 (c) (3), non-profit organization based in Houston, Texas, whose overall mission is to invest in community-based initiatives to support education, health and wealth. The foundation supports programs that empower individuals, in particular minorities and economically and/or socially disadvantaged, to recognize their potential and pursue their dreams.
The Education Mission of The Harris Foundation is to enable youth to develop and achieve their full potential through the support of social, recreational, and educational programs. The Harris Foundation believes that students can be prepared now for the careers of the future through a structured education program and the use of positive role models. More than 15,000 students annually participate and benefit from THF programs. www.theharrisfoundation.org
Source: Council of the Great City Schools
Dr. Sylvester J. Gates, Black Physicist, Named 2014 Scientist of the Year
Sylvester James Gates, Jr.
The Harvard Foundation Award Follows Receipt of The National Medal of Science from Obama in 2013
Sylvester James Gates, Jr. (born December 15, 1950), known as S. James Gates, Jr, or Jim Gates, is an American theoretical physicist, known for work on supersymmetry, supergravity, and superstring theory. He is currently the Professor of Physics at the University of Maryland, College Park, a University of Maryland Regents Professor and serves on President Barack Obama's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.
Vilcek Foundation Announces Winners of the 2014 Prizes in Biomedical Science
- BIOMEDICAL SCIENCE HONOREES: Thomas Jessell – Winner of Vilcek Prize; Antonio Giraldez, Stavros Lomvardas, and
Pardis Sabeti – Recipients of the Vilcek Prizes for Creative Promise
ARTS HONOREES: Neri Oxman – Winner of Vilcek Prize;
Yasaman Hashemian, Mansour Ourasanah, and Quilian Riano – Recipients of the Vilcek Prizes for Creative Promise
New York, NY, February 4, 2014 — The Vilcek Foundation is pleased to announce the winners of the annual Vilcek Prizes and Creative Promise Prizes, recognizing immigrant contributions to the American arts and sciences. The Vilcek Prize for the Arts, focusing on the field of design, is awarded to Neri Oxman. The Vilcek Prize for Biomedical Science goes to Thomas Jessell. Each prize includes a $100,000 cash award.
“Each year during the selection process for the Vilcek Prizes, we are overcome with inspiring stories and innovative works that demonstrate the true impact that foreign-born artists and scientists have on science and culture in the U.S.,” said Rick Kinsel, executive director of the Vilcek Foundation. “This year is no exception; our winners are at the forefront of modernization. They are building a better future for new generations to come, and it’s an honor to recognize each of these remarkable prizewinners.”
The Vilcek Prize for Design goes to architect and designer Neri Oxman, who was raised in Israel and relocated to the United States in 2005. Acknowledged for coining the phrase “material ecology” to define her work, Oxman is often referred to as the leader of the biological revolution in design. Through her work, she challenges traditional design principles across architecture, product design, and fashion by juxtaposing material properties and environmental constraints to generate breathtaking new forms. Her designs are created using modern technologies, such as 3D printing, but are inspired by elements of nature. Oxman has received multiple awards and recognitions, and her work has been displayed in institutions worldwide, such as the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City, the Pompidou in Paris, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and the Smithsonian. Oxman resides in Boston, where she is the Sony Corporation Career Development professor and assistant professor of Media Arts and Sciences at the MIT Media Lab. She is the founder and director of the Mediated Matter design research group.
The Vilcek Prize for Biomedical Science goes to British-born Thomas Jessell, a neuroscientist at Columbia University. His research investigates the developmental processes of the vertebrate central nervous system and has broadened the study of mammalian neural development from a descriptive science to a molecular and mechanistic one. Jessell’s lab focuses on combining neuro-computation and bio-mechanics studies to elucidate how the nervous system interacts with the skeletal muscle control system. His work has shed light on developmental abnormalities in the central nervous system and has paved the way for new treatment possibilities, using neural stem cells, for degenerative diseases affecting motor neurons and for spinal cord injuries. He has received much recognition for his work, including the Kavli Prize in Neuroscience and the Canada Gairdner award. Jessell is also an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and is the Claire Tow professor in the departments of Neuroscience and Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics at Columbia University.
The Vilcek Prizes for Creative Promise complement the Vilcek Prizes and are awarded to a younger generation of immigrant artists and scientists who have demonstrated exceptional achievements; each prize includes a $35,000 award. The winners of the prizes in design are:
Mansour Ourasanah, a senior designer for Whirlpool’s Advanced Studio in Chicago, where his role is to create innovative user-centric solutions for a new generation of global and hyper-connected consumers. His work focuses on the importance of storytelling in the design of products that address complex emotional and environmental challenges. His most recent project, LEPSIS: The Art of Growing Grasshoppers — a vessel that can be used to grow insects for food in efforts to promote sustainable meat production and consumption amongst urban populations — is one example of his achievements in the design arena. Ourasanah was born in Togo.
Yasaman Hashemian, who is involved in a number of health-based research projects, which provide the basis for her work as a game and usability designer, data analyst, and game producer. Most notably among her works, Virtual Sprouts presents gardening and cooking as an exciting and fun activity to children reluctant to try unfamiliar fruits and vegetables. Budded from her own childhood experiences in which her parents encouraged her to engage in outdoor activities, exercise, arts, and education, Hashemian seeks to teach children the value of healthy-living practices, creativity, and teamwork through her games. Hashemian was born in Iran.
Quilian Riano, the founder of DSGN AGNC, a practice focused on housing and public space design. Riano seeks to address social issues that negatively affect communities by bringing together trans-disciplinary groups and community leaders to create proposals that acknowledge and navigate the complex interactions of social, political, economic, and spatial urban processes. The agency has taken on several projects in the United States and in Latin America; Riano’s social design efforts with the Corona Plaza Engagement Project, La Union Community Project, and Casas De La Esperanza Community Project have earned him much recognition. Riano was born in Colombia.
The winners of the Vilcek Prizes for Creative Promise in Biomedical Science are:
Antonio Giraldez, an associate professor and director of Graduate Studies in Genetics at Yale University, where he focuses on the question of how microRNAs and other non-coding RNAs shape gene expression during embryonic development. He applies a wide range of knowledge in genomics, developmental biology, and stem cell biology with computational science to examine the role of microRNAs and non-coding RNAs. Recently, he found that the microRNA family, miR-430, is responsible for the clearance of maternal mRNAs, providing insight into the mechanisms of how microRNAs regulate gene expression. He also discovered the stem cell factors that activate gene expression in the fertilized egg. These findings are important to understand the very first steps that lead to the making of an embryo after fertilization. Giraldez was born in Spain.
Stavros Lomvardas, associate professor of Anatomy at the University of California, San Francisco, investigates the molecular mechanisms behind the expression of mammalian olfactory receptors (OR). There are over 1,000 kinds of OR genes in humans, belonging to a complex sensory system used to detect millions of odorants. However, each OR neuron only expresses one OR gene; Lomvardas’ lab revealed that the basis of this singular expression is an unusual form of epigenetic silencing that assures thousands of OR alleles remain inactive in each olfactory sensory neuron. These findings, and other continued epigenetics research, are important to understanding not only the mammalian OR system, but also shed light on other developmental processes in the brain. Lomvardas was born in Greece.
Pardis Sabeti, an associate professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University and an associate member of the Broad Institute. As a computational biologist, Sabeti develops algorithms to detect patterns in human genomes that signify recent evolutionary mutations that were biologically important for our survival. Such genomic mutations elucidate how infectious diseases evolve, adapt, spread, and may be prevented. In the course of her research, Sabeti has studied several viruses that cause infectious diseases, such as malaria, Lassa fever, Ebola, and many others, and investigated the mutations that cause resistance to them. Sabeti was born in Iran.
The prizewinners were selected by panels of independent experts in each field. All prizewinners will be honored at a ceremony in New York City in April 2014. Paola Antonelli, senior curator of the Department of Architecture and Design at the MoMA in New York City, will present the arts prizes. The science prizes will be presented by Huda Zoghbi, winner of the 2009 Vilcek Prize in Biomedical Science and professor at Baylor College of Medicine.
The Vilcek Foundation was established in 2000 by Jan and Marica Vilcek, immigrants from the former Czechoslovakia. The mission of the Foundation, to honor the contributions of foreign-born scholars and artists living in the United States, was inspired by the couple’s careers in biomedical science and art history, respectively, as well as their personal experiences and appreciation for the opportunities they received as newcomers to this country. The Foundation hosts events to promote the work of immigrants, awards annual prizes to prominent immigrant biomedical scientists and artists, and sponsors cultural programs such as the Hawaii International Film Festival.
To learn more about The Vilcek Foundation, please visit Vilcek.org.
COSMOS’s NEIL deGRASSE TYSON: TRANSFORMING HOW WE THINK ABOUT SCIENCE
- Plus: Why scientists will never lead armies into battle -
New York, January 9, 2014—Neil deGrasse Tyson, America’s best-known astrophysicist, speaks with Parade about his passion for the laws of nature and how he wants to “transform how we think about science.” Starting in March, this science rock star will become an even bigger cultural phenomenon as he hosts Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey, a 13-part, prime-time series airing on both Fox and the National Geographic Channel. Below, some excerpts from the conversation:
On early reactions to him as an African-American male interested in science:
“I was an aspiring astrophysicist and that’s how I defined myself, not by my skin color. [But] people didn’t treat me as someone with science ambitions. They treated me as someone they thought was going to mug them, or who was a shoplifter. I’d be in a department store and the security would follow me. Taxis wouldn’t stop for me. I was just glad I had something to think about other than how society was treating me.”
On what Cosmos will accomplish:
According to Tyson, it will help you “understand your relationship to other humans, to the rest of the tree of life on Earth, to the rest of the planets in the universe, and to the rest of the universe itself. I want it to get inside your skin. I want you to be so affected that the world looks completely different.”
On Cosmos’s presence in prime time on a commercial network, unlike its original incarnation, hosted by Carl Sagan 34 years ago on PBS:
“This would be a level of exposure for science that has never been reached before. And that, for me, is the most important fact about this rendering of Cosmos.”
On the possible existence of other forms of life in the universe:
“No astrophysicist would deny the possibility of life. I think we’re not creative enough to imagine what life would be like on another planet. … [But] show me a dead alien. Better yet, show me a live one!”
On our media “space moment,” as evidenced by the movie Gravity, the top-rated sitcom The Big Bang Theory, and the hit forensic drama CSI:
“Artists have come to embrace science in ways I’ve never seen before. That’s how you know science has become mainstream. It’s with us and around us. That gives me great hope that Cosmos will land on hugely fertile ground, possibly transforming how we think about science as a driver of our future.”
… More from Neil deGrasse Tyson: Why You Will Never Find Scientists Leading Armies Into Battle and why, witnessing 9/11, he “was disappointed in us as a species.” For more, go to Parade.com: http://bit.ly/19ekmx5
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