ASU leads initiative to increase diversity in fields where science, society intersect

September 18, 2014

Sometimes choosing to pursue a career or graduate education path comes down to imagination.

Most undergraduates probably have an idea of the day in the life of a nurse, doctor, teacher, firefighter or other careers they’ve likely been exposed to in their communities growing up. But what about a science policy analyst, a research ethicist, a science historian or an environmental justice researcher? Ira Bennett Download Full Image

Few undergraduates, unless they have a parent or know someone in the field, are likely aware of – let alone able to imagine themselves in – these and the many other career possibilities available in science and technology studies and science policy fields at the intersection of natural and social sciences.

Because many students stumble into science and technology studies or science policy through an interest in science and engineering, issues of participation are compounded with underrepresented minorities, whose enrollment in graduate science and engineering programs fails to reflect their numbers in the overall population, according to the National Science Board’s annual Science and Engineering Indicators report.

To help increase participation by underrepresented minorities in science and technology studies and science policy fields, the National Science Foundation has awarded a $237,000 supplement to the Center for Nanotechnology in Society at ASU to create a program that targets mid-career undergraduate students who show an initial interest in these fields.

The program will create a cohort of 24 students across 11 universities, including ASU, and give them a broad understanding of how science and the government interact, how social science methodologies can be applied to questions concerning science and technology, and what opportunities for graduate-level training and careers in science and technology studies and science policy exist.

The program will target students nearing the end of their second year of undergraduate studies, and will combine coursework, two workshops in Washington, D.C., mentorship and a research project.

“Many graduate students arrive at STS (science and technology studies) or science policy after a search, after trial and error,” says David Guston, professor of politics and global studies and director of the Center for Nanotechnology in Society. “We want to connect with students early enough in their undergraduate careers that they’ll be able to do some training and preparation, and also be exposed to good mentors who have had interesting and successful career trajectories.”

Students selected for the program will already have shown some interest in these fields. “They will have made some decisions about what they’re interested in, picked majors and already be on some sort of track,” says Ira Bennett, who, as the assistant director of education at the center, will lead the project. “We hope to put an inflection point in that track.”

Students in the program will participate in two summer workshops in Washington, D.C.

The first, after their sophomore year, will introduce them to the complexity of the science policy process and the key players in it. “They will get to see how the whole process works – the sausage-making of science policy and science funding, and the innumerable connections between science and society,” says Bennett, who for ten years has run Science Outside the Lab, a similar D.C.-based workshop offered by ASU’s Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes for graduate-level students.

Bennett says that both data and anecdotal evidence show that this workshop is often a turning point in participants’ careers, including his own when he moved from chemistry to science policy 12 years ago. “People find the space in that process that they want to be part of,” says Bennett.

After their junior year, students reconvene in Washington, where they will undertake research projects based on their individual interests. They’ll also receive training on how to communicate their ideas to various audiences. Beyond the educational benefits, the workshops will also help to promote networking among the geographically distributed participants.

Throughout the program and potentially beyond, a faculty member who is established in the field at the participant’s home institution will provide mentorship and support. “There are many places where people can get off the highway en route to a career in STS or science policy,” says Bennett. “Sometimes it’s because they’re making active choices to do something else, but sometimes it’s because they’re not sure how to keep going or what to do next.” Mentors will be able to guide students to not only figure out their specific interests, but to develop education and career plans to pursue those interests.

“Mentors can provide substantive engagement on topics that students might want to pursue,” says Gwen Ottinger, assistant professor of history and politics at Drexel University and one of the faculty mentors for the program. “If a student goes to the D.C. summer workshop and comes back jazzed about some idea, a mentor can help him or her construct independent studies or find classes to support that interest.” Ottinger began her own career as an engineering major before later becoming interested in environmental justice, including the distribution of environmental hazards.

Perhaps more important than the educational guidance, however, is mentors’ tacit knowledge from working in the field. “Students may not know, for example, that they shouldn’t be expecting to foot the bill for a PhD program. There are fellowships for that,” says Ottinger. “Mentorship is a way of making pathways visible to students that wouldn’t be visible otherwise.”

Another of the faculty mentors is Luis Campos, associate professor of history at the University of New Mexico. “I never in my life thought I’d be a historian of science,” says Campos, who initially majored in biology but was always attracted to electives that looked at the history of science.

“History offers a way to think about science with a different analytical lens. It’s a way to bring a richer, deeper understanding of science as a cultural and human thing,” says Campos. “This program is a great opportunity to bring more students into STS and show them how the history of science can play a key role in understanding science better.”

Other universities participating in the program are DePaul University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Michigan State University, North Carolina State University, University of California at Santa Barbara, University of Maryland, University of Virginia and University of Wisconsin.

Jennifer Pillen Banks

Communications program coordinator, Center for Nanotechnology in Society


ASU faculty, staff create 17 new endowed scholarships

September 18, 2014

Seventeen new scholarships have been created for Arizona State University students under a unique incentive-matching program for faculty, staff and administrators.

The Maroon and Gold Leaders Giving Program is designed to increase scholarship support for high-performing undergraduate students with financial need. Download Full Image

The program offers matching funds for 10 years, and immediately begins distributing scholarship help to students. As part of the program, ASU is matching 4 percent of an endowed scholarship commitment for the first 10 years of the scholarship. Commitments can be outright gifts or pledges with a five-year payment schedule. All scholarships start in the next academic year.

The program is off to a fast start, with 17 new scholarships already endowed by professors, retired professors, staff, deans, directors and the university’s provost.

“This is a unique opportunity to make a meaningful difference at our university, a place that we cherish and believe passionately in its core mission – to provide access to a quality college education for all qualified students no matter their background or financial need,” said Christopher Callahan, vice provost and dean of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, who helped create the program. “It is a genuine honor and privilege to play a small part in the lives of our extraordinary students, and for ASU students for years to come.”

The following Maroon and Gold Leaders scholarships have been endowed in the first months of the program.

Jean and Christopher Callahan Family Maroon and Gold Leaders Scholarship
Established in the Cronkite School by Dean Christopher Callahan and his wife Jean to help aspiring journalists study and learn critical values of great journalism.

Virginia Cárdenas Scholarship
Established in memory of Virginia by her husband José Cárdenas, senior vice president and general counsel at ASU.

Gregory Cheng Maroon and Gold Leaders Scholarship
Established by Augie Cheng, managing director of Arizona Technology Enterprises at ASU Skysong, in memory of his father.

Mary Louise Gaillard Maroon and Gold Leaders Scholarship
Established in the Cronkite School by Carnegie-Knight News21 executive editor Jacqueline Gaillard Petchel in honor of her mother, whose sacrifices made it possible for her to attend and graduate from ASU and become an investigative reporter.

Edd and Gail Gibson Maroon and Gold Leaders Scholarship
Established in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering by professor Edd Gibson, director of sustainable engineering and the built environment.

Ted Humphrey Scholarship Endowment
Established by Ted Humphrey, former dean of Barrett, the Honors College, who has spent 47 years as a faculty member at ASU.

Elyse and Paul Johnson Maroon and Gold Scholarship
Established in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering by Dean Paul Johnson and his wife Elyse.

Martha Monser Justice, Jack B. Justice and Judith L. Justice Maroon and Gold Scholarship
Established in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences by George Justice, dean of humanities, to demonstrate the importance of the humanities.

Gerontological Social Work Maroon and Gold Scholarship
Established in the College of Public Programs by Teri Kennedy, a faculty member at the college, in honor of family members.

Angelo and Joyce Kinicki Maroon and Gold Scholarship
Established in the W. P. Carey School of Business by professor Angelo Kinicki, who holds the Weatherup/Overby Chair in Leadership at W. P. Carey, and his wife Joyce.

Michele and Robert Page First Generation Maroon and Gold Leaders Scholarship
Established by Provost Robert Page and his wife Michele for first generation college students at ASU.

Eleanor Poste Scholarship
Established by George Poste, founding director of the ASU Biodesign Institute, in honor of his daughter.

Deborah Oldfield Reich and John Reich Maroon and Gold Leaders Scholarship
Established in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences by emeritus faculty member John Reich and his wife Deborah for students in the natural sciences.

Rund Family Maroon and Gold Leaders Scholarship
Established by Jim Rund, senior vice president for ASU’s Educational Outreach and Student Services, and his wife Barbara in honor of their family’s commitment to the mission of ASU.

Diane Hillman Schwartz Scholar
Established in the W. P. Carey School of Business by Dean Amy Hillman in memory of her sister.

Thomas J. and Dorothy J. Sokol Maroon and Gold Scholarship
Established in the Cronkite School by Cronkite IT director TJ Sokol and his mother Dorothy in memory of Thomas J. Sokol.

Yoshioka/Hossbach Maroon and Gold Leaders Scholarship
Established in the College of Public Programs by Carlton and Audrey Yoshioka for nonprofit leadership and management students in honor of Audrey’s parents.

The 17 Maroon and Gold Scholarships total more than $450,000, ASU Foundation CEO R.F. “Rick” Shangraw Jr. said.

“There are daily examples across this great university of faculty who advance learning at ASU in the classroom and outside the classroom,” Shangraw said. “The Maroon and Gold Scholarship program was created specifically to meet the enthusiastic interest of faculty who seek to support ASU and their colleges through their own generosity. This program is designed to make their further commitment to the university even greater through matching funds. We are so grateful for the many faculty who are participating in this unique opportunity. They are making a positive difference in our future.”