A team of Southern faculty members have been presented a prestigious national award that recognizes their efforts to collaborate with the general public on real-world science projects.
SENCER (Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities) recently announced that six SCSU faculty members are the recipients of this year’s William E. Bennett Award for Extraordinary Contributions to Citizen Science. They are: Winnie Yu, professor of computer science; James Tait, professor of science education and environmental studies; Vince Breslin, professor of science education and environmental studies and newly named chairman of the department; Terese Gemme, chairwoman of theHonors College; Terri Bennett, chairwoman of the Mathematics Department; and Susan Cusato, associate professor and former chairwoman of the Science Education and Environmental Studies Department. They were presented an engraved silver platter at a recent awards ceremony.
“We are deeply honored by this recognition,” said Yu, who coordinated the SCSU team and the effort to seek the award. “It has been my privilege working with our team, as well as our administrators, to boost our efforts toward citizen science. But the award reflects many years of hard work from so many outstanding faculty members.”
Yu pointed out that since 2004, 32 faculty members from 12 departments and three schools at SCSU played a role in the award through their devotion to citizen science. This was accomplished by participating in various activities, such as attending summer institutes, creating new courses and including SENCER ideals into existing courses and programs.
New courses that SENCER had designated as “models,” have included: “Computer Ethics,” designated in 2006 and developed by Terry Bynum, professor of philosophy; “Science on the Connecticut Coast: Investigations of an Urbanized Shoreline,” designated in 2007 and developed by Tait and Breslin; and “Pollinators: A Case Study in Systems Thinking and Sustainability,” designated in 2014 and developed by Cusato and Suzanne Huminski, SCSU sustainability coordinator and an adjunct faculty member who teaches environmental and marine science.
David Burns, executive director of the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement (NCSCE) and founder of SENCER, praised SCSU for its development of the courses, as well as the “deep insights about some of the things we need to understand about student needs when we think we are doing good things for students.” SENCER is the signature program of the NCSCE.
Yu thanked Steven Breese, dean of the SCSU School of Arts and Sciences, as well as DonnaJean Fredeen, the former dean who launched SCSU’s relationship with SENCER.