Our college community is a conglomeration of talent and energy and enormous potential that regularly finds traction around a long-range social issue or pressing need and strives to advance solutions. In 2013-14 Oswego made progress in addressing such challenges as growing the future scientific workforce and preparing for an aging society.
Science, technology and engineering hold promise for helping overcome some of the world’s most formidable problems, from environmental degradation and water shortages to hunger and disease. Oswego has made preparing the next generation of scientists and engineers a priority in recent years. Our college recruits growing numbers of students in these disciplines. We help ensure access to these careers for people from diverse backgrounds through such efforts as the Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program. And we reach into the schools to instill and foster passion for exploration and discovery at an early age.
In 2013-14, SUNY Oswego received a five-year, $1.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation for a scholarship program to help create a pipeline of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) teachers for high-needs school districts. The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and School of Education worked together to launch the NSF Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program at Oswego. The program’s goal is to produce about 30 new STEM graduates with an interest in teaching and 30 science, technology and math teachers with state certification in adolescence education.
In another NSF-funded project begun in 2013-14, Oswego began training graduate students to mentor high-need middle school students after school in the science, technology, engineering and math disciplines. In spring 2014, mentors met with 24 middle school students twice a week to discuss robotics and forensics. The robotics group worked on building a robot, while the forensics team learned about crime scene investigation. “It’s so important to grab these kids’ interest while they’re still young,” said Sarah Therrien, a seventh-grade math teacher whose students participated in the program.
“We want to be a good example for the community, to show that it is possible to do things in a sustainable way. We do science for the service of the public.”
— Late Director of Rice Creek Field Station Lucina Hernandez
High school student Mukisa Emmanuel Oruyah of Uganda talks about his entry during judging for the fourth annual SUNY Oswego GENIUS Olympiad. The global environmental competition attracted about 600 people from some 50 countries in 2014.
Faculty member Cleane Medeiros, right with CSTEP students, directs Oswego’s Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program for low-income or first-generation college students. “She goes out of her way for all of us students,” said Larissa Assam ’14, who went on to medical school.
Working with the University of Michigan and funds from the National Institutes of Health, chemistry professor Kestutis Bendinskas, right, and biochemistry student Ethan Walker test blood samples for environmental lead to advance understanding of how low levels of lead affect children’s cardiovascular health.
Faculty and students in the sciences delve into matters that have relevance to today’s environmental challenges. Paleo-ecological research by associate professor of geology Diana Boyer and her students aims to advance understanding of how oxygen stress affects ocean life and where the tipping point into mass extinction may be. Ornithologist Michael Schummer and his students are studying whether changing weather patterns affect the migratory paths of Canada geese and, if so, which weather variables are responsible.
Protecting the environment has been an institutional priority at Oswego since President Stanley signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment in 2007. In 2013-14, Princeton Review recognized SUNY Oswego as one of the 332 most environmentally responsible colleges in North America. Its guide to green colleges cites our high ratings from the U.S. Green Building Council, highlights our Rice Creek Field Station for encouraging sustainability-related research and notes that students can join interest groups such as Students for Global Change and the Go Green Team, share cars and bikes, ride free shuttles, and minor in sustainability studies.
Our college community also took actions to address thorny social problems — including ethnic prejudice, drug addiction and managing an aging society. Our faculty and staff confronted challenges manifested on our own campus by, for example, initiating a diversity and inclusion campaign and incorporating explicit heroin warnings in freshman orientation. And Oswego faculty members have contributed research and understanding to larger social issues. Native American studies professor Kevin White spoke on racial bias in the Washington Redskins controversy. Our Active Aging and Community Engagement Center helped bring people in gerontology, mental health care, nursing home administration and related fields together in search of innovative solutions to shortages in geriatric health care in our region.
Oswego succeeds in giving our students and graduates the skills and confidence to contribute at the highest levels of theory and application to provide solutions to significant challenges. In 2013-14: Senior Eyub Yegen analyzed data from the Turkish government to help improve the effectiveness of a poverty-fighting microfinance program. Senior Spencer Saraf presented the surprising results of her summer research on eyesight to an international audience of scientists. Frederick Bieber, a 1972 graduate now on the Harvard Medical School faculty, continued his work in the diagnostics of genetic disorders and applying a kinship method of DNA analysis he developed that helps identify disaster victims and pursue justice. Jason Bennett, a 2001 graduate, began exploring a possible new method of monitoring brain and heart health under a National Science Foundation grant.
By fostering a spirit of inquiry and innovation, our college is producing global citizens who help lead the way to a healthier and more just world.