Monthly Archives: September 2013

*The Hartford Courant posted an article Sept. 28 in its online MyTowns section, as well as a subsequent hard copy version of MyTowns, regarding the groundbreaking ceremony for the academic and laboratory science building.

Similarly, an article and photo from the groundbreaking appeared in the “Education Outlook” section of various Hearst newspapers — including the Connecticut Post, Stamford Advocate,Greenwich Time and the Brooks Newspapers (several Fairfield County weekly papers). The supplement was included in those papers during the weekend of Oct. 12-13.

*Will Hochman, professor of English, was interviewed Sept. 21 on a Montreal-based radio station, CJAD, during the “Viewpoints” show. The interview focused on the life and works of J.D. Salinger, author of the iconic “Catcher in the Rye.”

He was previously interviewed Sept. 9 no the Channel 61 Morning Show to discuss the life of Salinger. That interview included questions about the movie, “Salinger.”

*The SCSU Veterans Club was mentioned for its support of various veterans and charitable fundraisers in a Sept. 21 article in the New Haven Register.

*The Sept. 9 announcement of a $3 million gift to Southern from the Werth Family Foundation — the largest donation to the university in its 120-year history — attracted plenty of media attention.

Channel 30 ran a segment that featured an interview with President Mary Papazian during the station’s 5:30 p.m. newscast on Sept. 9.

WTIC radio (1080 AM) and WQUN radio (1220 AM) both aired sound bites from an interview the president.

The New Haven Register ran a Page 1 story on Sept. 10.

The Connecticut Post ran an article its Sept. 10 edition.

The story also was picked up by the Associated Press, which enabled word about the gift to spread throughout Connecticut, the Northeast and the nation.

*A preview of the SCSU football team for the 2013 season ran in the Sept. 5 edition of the New Haven Register.

*Adam Goldberg, assistant to the dean of the School of Education, was interviewed Sept. 4 onChannel 61’s Morning Show (during the 9:00 hour) about what can be done to change students’ perceptions of math. Studies have shown that students seem to fear and dislike math more than other subjects.

*Will Hochman, professor of English, was interviewed Sept. 3 on WNPR radio’s (90.5 FM) Colin McEnroe Show about the life of J.D. Salinger.

*Tricia Lin, director of the Women’s Studies program, was quoted Sept. 3 in a New Haven Register story about the language used to describe sex trafficking. The story looked at how words can shape perceptions.

*Paul Stepanovich, chairman of the Management Department, was interviewed Sept. 2 on theChannel 30 11 a.m. newscast about the mistakes many bosses make with regard to trying to get the best performance from their employees. Paul talked about how the effects of rewards and reprimands are often misinterpreted by managers.

Paul was also the focus of a Page 1 story in the Sept. 2 edition of the New Haven Register on the same topic.  Both interviews were the result of a recent post in the SCSU blog, “Wise Words.”

*A photo pertaining to the groundbreaking ceremony of the Buley Library renovation project appeared in the Sept. 1 edition of the New Haven Register.

The future academic and laboratory science building at Southern Connecticut State University will be a significant step forward for the landscape of the campus and an impressive leap for scientific study in Connecticut.

On Sept. 20, the university celebrated a groundbreaking ceremony for that building, which will be a four-story, 103,608-square-foot facility that will be the “focal point” for the university’s science programs. The project has been under way for the last several months and is being designed to enhance both the quality of those programs, as well as to educate a larger number of students.

“It will be a state-of-the-art structure that will provide greatly enhanced, career-based educational opportunities for our students in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) disciplines,” said SCSU President Mary A. Papazian. “By producing more graduates with much-needed expertise in the fields of science and technology, Southern will be meeting a vital area of workforce demand and continue to be a key player in Connecticut’s economic revival.”

Gregory W. Gray, president of the state Board of Regents for Higher Education, pointed to the commitment of SCSU and the entire Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (ConnSCU) system to a strong program in the STEM disciplines. He said the building will bring science education to another level at the university. He also said a world-class institution requires outstanding students, faculty and staff and facilities.

“We have great students, a great faculty and staff, and now we need to have a world-class building with world-class equipment,” Gray said.

Other speakers included: Yvette Melendez, interim chairwoman of the board; Peter J. Werth Jr., president of the Werth Family Foundation, which recently agreed to donate $3 million to SCSU; alumna Jacquelynn Garofano, who is now a senior engineer and research scientist with United Technologies; William J. LaRochelle, head of Key Opinion Leader Management with Roche Sequencing Solutions; Steven Breese, dean of the SCSU School of Arts and Sciences; and Vincent Breslin, SCSU professor of science education and environmental studies.

Physically, the two wings of the facility will be configured in the shape of an “L” and located next to Jennings and Morrill halls, which currently house the university’s science departments. Together, the three buildings will form a “science enclave.”

A brick and glass exterior will line the building –- a structure that will feature a covered skywalk connecting it with Jennings on the upper floor. A connector will also be built on the ground floor. A hallway already connects Jennings and Morrill.

Academically, the building will host teaching and research labs for physics, earth science, environmental science, molecular biology and chemistry. It will include a supercomputing lab for research in theoretical physics, bioinformatics and computer science.

The Werth Center for Marine and Coastal Studies – recently named in honor of the Werth family following a $3 million gift from the Werth Family Foundation — will be housed on the second floor.

The center will have several new labs, including an analytic lab (where mercury levels can be determined) and a sediment coastal science lab (where levels of sediment can be tested).

The CSU Center for Nanotechnology will be located on the ground floor, where the laboratory space is designed to isolate the building’s vibrations — considered important when dealing with microscopic materials.

A saltwater aquaria room with a touch tank will also be featured in the new building and will a centerpiece of outreach to area schools and the community.

Other amenities include an outdoor rock garden showcasing rocks indigenous to Connecticut; six rooftop telescope stations strategically placed to eliminate interference from city lights; a pair of 50-seat general purpose classrooms, as well as office space and study/common areas. Scientific displays will be located throughout the building to showcase faculty and student research.

The facility will meet the LEED-Silver certification, a designation by the U.S. Green Building Council for buildings that are environmentally friendly. “We will be able to capture the rain water and use it for the irrigation system in that area,” said Robert Sheeley, associate vice president for capital budgeting and facilities operations. “And the roofs will be pitched to accept solar panels.”

Centerbrook Architect and Planners of Centerbook is the architectural firm in charge of the $49 million project. FIT Construction Inc. of Farmington is the contractor. It is expected to be completed by the spring of 2015.

Few would like to return to the days of the Cold War — an era during the 1950s and 60s when the United States and the Soviet Union competed for military supremacy in a nuclear chess match. But the sense of urgency generated by the geopolitical struggle was the impetus — certainly one of the driving forces — behind America’s push to become the first nation to successfully land a man on the moon.

To accomplish that goal, the United States needed to ensure that its science and technology education was second to none. The Soviet launching of Sputnik in 1957 — the first manmade satellite to orbit the Earth — jolted the United States into action. Science education became a priority in this nation. And dividends were paid with a successful manned space flight in 1969 — nearly a decade after President John F. Kennedy outlined that goal. It left little doubt about the technological superiority of the United States.

blogphotoscienceliteracyBut nearly four and a half decades later, the state of science education in the United States has become much more ambiguous. For example, tests measuring scientific aptitude and knowledge show that American children are not at the top of the list. Not even in the top 5. And many educators have decried a lack of interest in science at the middle and high school levels.

So, what has gone wrong? Like most such complex questions, the answer does not lie in a single cause. But a de-emphasis on science education — and especially science literacy — has played a role in that decline, according to Susan Cusato, chairwoman of the Science Education and Environmental Studies Department at Southern. During the last few decades, education has placed more emphasis on literacy and mathematics — reading, writing and ‘rithmetic – but Cusato contends that it has come at the expense of science education.

“It is generally not until middle school that actual science teachers begin teaching science,” Cusato says. “What happens is that there is a continual catch-up process in the classroom.”

Cusato also feels that science education has done a disservice in focusing too heavily on training scientists, rather than promoting scientific literacy. She says students should have achieved basic literacy skills in all the major disciplines before college, including science.

“No matter what career path or profession our students choose, knowledge and wonder of science is critical,” she says. “By avoiding science you miss out on experiencing incredible things on a different level that can bring you great joy and insight.” She points to driving a car, riding a plane, or going to a concert, as examples of everyday tasks people often take for granted without understanding how science makes those things happen.

She says that scientific literacy is needed, not merely to fulfill an academic requirement, but to gain a better appreciation and understanding for what is happening around us. This would include climate change, pandemics and the search for sustainable energy sources.

So, what can we do to improve our scientific literacy? Cusato recommends several steps we can take that are relatively simple and don’t require a Ph.D. in molecular biophysics.

  • Visit museums, parks and nature centers. Pick out some activities you enjoy, or would like to try, such as maple syrup weekends, bird watching, fishing or nature walks. Science is part of all of them.
  • When reading the paper or listening to the news, try to pay attention to science stories. They may be more interesting than you think initially.
  • Read science magazines and other publications. They don’t have to be dissertations on string theory or Einstein’s theory of relativity. But many science-based magazines are available at local bookstores, and are written for the general public with photos and diagrams that help illustrate the subject matter.
  • Mention a timely scientific topic at a family gathering or when you are with friends. It may actually inspire others to learn more about a subject.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask science-related questions of your teacher, doctor, or anyone involved in the sciences. Many people enjoy talking about their chosen fields of expertise with others.

Speaking of science education, Southern will hold a groundbreaking ceremony Friday on a new academic and science laboratory building. To read more, check out: http://www.southernct.edu/about/construction/new-science-building.html

 

Southern President Mary A. Papazian today announced the largest donation to the university in its 120-year history – a $3 million gift that promises to boost scientific research for students and faculty.

Papazian said the Woodbridge-based Werth Family Foundation will make the donation in increments during the next 10 years. It is nearly triple the size of the previous largest donation to SCSU.

The contribution will include a $1.5 million endowment for SCSU’s Center for Coastal and Marine Studies – a center that is being renamed in the family’s honor. An additional $750,000 ($75,000 each year) will be donated to the center for its annual expenses, such as equipment and for stipends to students to support their research efforts.

“In recent years, Southern has seen impressive programmatic and enrollment growth in the sciences, and this wonderful gift will take scientific research and experiential opportunities for our students to a whole new level,” Papazian said.

“We are extremely grateful to the Werth Family Foundation for its support of the university and its commitment to public higher education.”

The remaining funds of the $3 million gift have been earmarked for two new initiatives that combine science education and real-world/business experience — through seminars, internships, and research opportunities — with stipends provided to participating Southern students and area science teachers.

“Above all, we are trying to make a difference,” said Peter Werth, who established the family foundation with his wife, Pam, in 2000. “We’ve had the opportunity to look at the research done at the center and its importance to the community. We’re believers.”

The foundation has contributed nearly $380,000 to the center since 2006, including more than $50,000 a year over the last few years.

In recent years, about 60 Southern students have worked with faculty on environmental research through the center. Projects in which they have engaged include measuring mercury and other contaminants in state harbors, exploring ways to combat beach erosion after hurricanes and determining the age of lobsters.

The entrepreneurial couple founded ChemWerth, an international generic drug development and supply company, in 1982.

“Southern is accessible and offers students the opportunity to receive a great education,” said Pam Werth, who was raised in Bridgeport and believes in supporting urban education initiatives. “I know this is a school that makes a difference in people’s lives.”

“This is truly a transformational gift,” said Vincent Breslin, professor of science education and environmental studies, and co-coordinator of the Werth Center, along with James Tait, professor of science education and environmental studies, and Sean Grace, associate professor of biology. “It makes the center sustainable, allows us to plan future programs of research and lets students know that support for their work will be there over the long-term.”

“In this highly competitive job market, it’s not what you know but what you can do with what you know that matters,” Breslin said. “This gift enables us to provide hands-on experience to students, who will be out in the field and in the lab conducting research with state-of-the-art instrumentation. As a result, our students are much more competitive in the job market.”

In addition to the center, the gift will fund the Industry Academic Fellowship Program, which will enable students to work with middle school and high school science teachers, as well as SCSU faculty and industry mentors, to focus on professional development and interdisciplinary research. The program will include fellowships for the students and teachers.

The gift also will fund the Southern Summer Science Business Institute, which will enable students majoring in the STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) to learn about the business aspects of science. Participants will receive $5,000 stipends, which will allow them to focus on their education rather than seeking summer employment. The program will include seminars, as well as internships with science-based businesses in the area.