11/07/2011 11:14 AM
BATON ROUGE – The LSU Office of Research & Economic Development and the Gordon A. Cain Center for Scientific, Technological Engineering and Mathematical Literacy, in partnership with the National Science Foundation, or NSF, are sponsoring the first ever Early Career Development, or CAREER, Award Regional Forum. The forum aims to bring together the state’s current and past NSF CAREER award recipients, as well as participants from 17 of Louisiana’s institutes of higher education, including four Historically Black Colleges and Universities, or HBCUs. The forum will be held on Nov. 8-9, at the Lod Cook Alumni Center in Baton Rouge.
NSF’s CAREER Program offers their most prestigious awards in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations. Such activities should build a firm foundation for a lifetime of leadership in integrating education and research. LSU has been historically successful in the number of assistant professors who obtain this support, but the state of Louisiana is tremendously underfunded in this area overall.
“This forum really addresses what’s at the core of the CAREER program, and that’s people,” said Randy Duran, director of LSU’s new office of undergraduate research and Gordon A. Cain Chair in Scientific, Technological, Engineering and Mathematical Literacy. “It’s about connecting researchers with K-12 educators, bringing together industry support and federal grant agencies, to develop a network right here in Louisiana.”
More than 100 assistant professors will be in attendance, along with representatives from more than three dozen higher education institutions and 13 school districts; the Rapides Foundation; Exxon; Dow Chemical; EPSCoR representatives from the University of the U.S. Virgin Islands, New Mexico, Idaho, Mississippi, Alabama, Puerto Rico, South Carolina and Arkansas; Oak Ridge Associated Universities; NSF; and the National Institutes of Health.
“The CAREER grant really offers collaborative educational opportunities that have the potential to have a significant ripple effect,” said Duran. “Take for instance LSU geologist and current CAREER award holder Sophie Warny. Her grant allowed her to collaborate with colleagues at Columbia University and to support University High [Baton Rouge] science educator Steve Babcock’s pursuit of master’s degree.”
Warny, whose research recently landed the cover of the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (see http://www.lsu.edu/ur/ocur/lsunews/MediaCenter/News/2011/06/item31234.html) conducts fieldwork in Antarctica. There’s the potential that, due to this collaboration, Babcock could travel to the frozen continent for research purposes, and then the impact on his high school students could be tremendous.
LSU Chancellor Michael Martin will give opening remarks on the first morning. Afterwards, Elizabeth VanderPutten, a member of the leadership of NSF’s Directorate for Education & Human Resources and Undergraduate Education, will give a plenary talk on Integrating Research and Education. The next morning, Deputy Director of NSF Civil, Mechanical and Manufacturing Innovation, or CMMI, unit George Hazelrigg will present his views how faculty can best write proposals to win the CAREER award. His talk will be made available to universities in Arkansas, Idaho and Puerto Rico, as well as Louisiana Tech, Grambling, Xavier, Dillard, UNO, Tulane and Loyola through Access Grid technology provided by LSU.
“This is a rare gathering of a variety of groups, all with a vested interest in promoting good research outreach, which is a key element of the CAREER award,” said Duran. “We believe that if, for instance, a teacher in a Louisiana school district is able to connect with a university researcher, there will be a huge impact over the next five years. The sky is the limit in this situation as far as student motivation goes. It’s a huge opportunity for the state.”
For the full event agenda, visit http://research.lsu.edu/NSFCareerWorkshop/item35167.html.
Posted on Monday, November 7, 2011