Monthly Archives: April 2021

Carrie-Anne Sherwood
Carrie-Anne Sherwood

The National Science Foundation has awarded Southern a five-year, $1.4 million grant designed to bolster science (especially physics and chemistry) and math education in the state’s high-needs school districts.

The funding will support 30 full-tuition scholarships to cover expenses of SCSU students in their final two years provided they plan to teach in a high-needs school district for at least four years after graduation. The NSF designates districts as “high need” based on several criteria, including the percentage of students eligible for free or reduced lunch, as well as teacher attrition rates and certification of teachers in areas they actually teach.

The grant, known as the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program — also covers fees and an $800 stipend to be used for books. Students must meet various eligibility requirements, such as having a GPA of at least 3.0, being a science or math major, and acceptance into the College of Education’s teacher education program.

Carrie-Anne Sherwood, SCSU assistant professor of curriculum and learning and coordinator of secondary science education, is the principal investigator and is coordinating the project. She said the goal is to recruit and train high quality, diverse candidates to go into school districts that often struggle to attract STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) teachers.

“STEM teachers are at a premium these days as many studying in these fields go onto higher paying jobs in private industry,” Sherwood said. “But the state is in need of STEM teachers, especially in many of our urban school districts. This grant is intended to make it more attractive to become a science or math teacher in these districts.”

SCSU is being joined in this project by several partners, including Gateway Community College, as well as the New Haven, Hamden and Meriden school districts. A regional education service center is also assisting in this program.

“We intend to recruit students from the community colleges, especially Gateway,” Sherwood said. “And we hope to place student-teachers in this program in the New Haven, Hamden and Meriden schools, where they would gain valuable experience.”

Stephen Hegedus, dean of the SCSU College of Education, said he is excited about the impact that such an award will have on schools and children in the region.

“This will allow us to recruit and support students into STEM teaching, as well as support them during and after they complete their teacher preparation programs,” Hegedus said.

“I am also very proud that the College of Education, in collaboration with other departments on campus, can accelerate its mission to meet the needs of schools in Connecticut with this competitive funding from the NSF.”

Gateway CEO William Terry Brown looks forward to the project.

“Gateway Community College is excited to partner with SCSU on this critical project to increase the number of qualified STEM teachers for our young people,” Brown said.

“With all the scientific and technological advances and challenges that face us today, we need dedicated, creative teachers more than ever to inspire our children to develop new technologies, develop new solutions and explore the mysteries of our natural world,” Brown said.

Sherwood said recruitment of students will begin in earnest this fall, and that students will begin the program next spring. Additional cohorts of students will be chosen in subsequent years.

(Anyone interested in applying for the program, or who have questions, can contact Carrie-Anne Sherwood at sherwoodc4@southernct.edu or at 203-392-5047.) 

 

graphic that says latino and native american film festival

The 11th Latino and Native American Film Festival @SCSU
A Virtual Film Festival
April 22 – May 1 (Earth Day to May Day)

Free to everyone from SCSU and the New Haven Public Schools

Get your 10-day pass

poster for the latin american and native american film festival

¿Quién Somos? / Who Are We?

As Latinos, we are Jewish; we are Christian; we are Buddhist; we are Muslim; we are Indigenous; we are Black; we are White; we are Asian; we are Mixed; we are blended; we are Argentine; we are Boricuas, Dominicans, Colombian, Venezuelan, Mexican, Paraguayan, Chileans, Bolivian, Ecuadorian, Peruvians, fractal nations within nations, Pochos, Chicanos, Hispanos, Hispanics, Latino, LatinX, Latinas, Latines, “Latin American citizens”…we are Americanos, nationalist, assimilated, “hyphenated Americans,” urban, rural, suburban, academics, braceros, scientists, laborers, educators, “junkies and PhD’s,” invisible, culturally indigestible, U.S. Secretary of Education… and the list goes on.

You may think you know us, but you have no idea. What’s more, often we don’t even know ourselves…the depth and the heights that we are.

An eerily similar argument can be made for Native Americans, with 567 nations, just in the U.S. alone, and over 800 nations in Latin America, with a total population of 45 million people with little or no voice in their societies. In Bolivia and Guatemala, between 41 and 60 percent of the population is Indigenous. In Peru, around 26 percent of the population is Indigenous, and Mexico has over 7.5 million people classified as Indigenous. The Indigenous people of America are the creators of cities and societies more socially and technologically advanced than that of those who invaded us. Astronomers, architects, hunter-gatherers, the creators of democracy… out of which which the U.S. system was formed. Here, as well, the list goes on and on.

Currently in its 11th year, the Latino and Native American Film Festival @SCSU will be presenting around 170 films over a 10-day period, responding to the question: “¿QuiénesSomos? / Who Are We?” These films represent a select list chosen from over 1,400 submissions made to this year’s festival, and represent more than 26 countries, including some unexpected, such as Russia.

 

a young woman in scrubs talks to an elderly patient

Madeleine Braun, chief of presidential initiatives at The Jackson Laboratory, will be the keynote speaker April 30 at Southern’s virtual bioscience careers forum.

Braun plans to discuss her experiences with projects bringing together the disciplines of biology, computer science and technology to increase understanding of complex human diseases. She will share with students her perspective on what skills and experiences are important to build a career in team-based science.

The forum, “Bioscience Careers Forum — Technology, Healthcare and Business: Collaborating to Improve Human Health,” is scheduled to run from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

The program also will feature a panel discussion that will include Braun, as well as Erika Smith, CEO of ReNetX Bio of New Haven; Shelley Des Etages, director of precision medicine clinical biomarker scientist at Pfizer; Mostafa Analoui, executive director of Venture Development and Technology Incubation Program, and Judd Andres, a pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry leader. The discussion will be moderated by Dawn Hocevar, president and CEO of BioCT.

“This event comes at the perfect time,” said Christine Broadbridge, executive director of research and innovation at SCSU.

“Connecticut has recently launched the ‘Connecticut: Where Science Lives’ promotional campaign, which highlights the life sciences opportunities in Connecticut and is intended to attract new businesses to the state, while supporting those already here and growing,” Broadbridge said.

“It continues to be a well-kept secret that the Greater New Haven region is home to the second largest cluster of biotechnology companies in New England.  Biotechnology impacts all sectors, including technology, healthcare, and business, which will be demonstrated through this year’s forum. There are opportunities for students in all disciplines to join and contribute.”

Networking opportunities for students will be available with industry professionals.

Opening remarks will be delivered by Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz; state Sen. Christine Cohen and state Rep. David Yaccarino, co-chairs of the General Assembly’s BioScience Caucus; Jane Gates, president of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system; Robert Prezant, provost and vice president for academic affairs at SCSU; and Michael Piscitelli, representing the city of New Haven.

Registration is open to the public, and students in the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system are especially encouraged to attend.

Lisa Marie Tedesco on the set of her film in Lyman Center
Lisa Marie Tedesco on the set of her film, "Spin," in Lyman Center

Lisa Marie Tedesco, a senior in the Department of Communication, Media, and Screen Studies, recently finished principal photography on her third independent film entitled “Spin,” with filming taking place on the Southern campus. While doing an independent study for her major, Tedesco combined her skills on set, her production company, her producing knowhow, and her writing/directing capabilities to safely execute a full-scale movie production on the Lyman Center stage during a global pandemic.

Using Lyman as the central location of the film, Tedesco transformed the theater into her own personal Hollywood sound stage; enlisting the help of a full production design crew to design and build a set.

“I knew I had the itch and the need to get back on set,” Tedesco said. “But I also wanted to make sure we could effectively put a production on with a smaller budget and also keep everyone safe during the current Covid-19 pandemic.”

Tedesco’s initial shoot dates were placed on hold when a Covid scare within her cast thwarted her plans. Luckily, the individual’s test result turned out to be a false positive, and shooting resumed two weeks later. “We took a chance and that chance has this consequence. I will always take the safety and health of my cast and crew seriously,” said Tedesco. “So I did what I had to do and shut it down immediately.”

Once cast and crew were re-tested, with negative results, there was no stopping Tedesco in completing her independent study with “Spin.”

Cast and crew of "Spin," on the stage in Lyman Center
Cast and crew of “Spin,” on set in Lyman Center

She says she wrote the screenplay in a couple of hours. “I knew I wanted to make something Shakespeare-voice-over heavy that also included a queer storyline,” Tedesco said. “I represent the LGBTQ community in every little thing I do. Representation Matters, and I wanted my third film to have that thrust upon the screen. My other films are also queer and it’s very important to have authentic stories for people in our community to identify with.”

“Spin” is now in post-production and is set to make a limited film festival run before heading to streaming services. The IMDb description of the film reads: “When the curtain descends on their final performance of Romeo and Juliet in drama club, high school seniors Abigail and Sky bid a fair adieu to the stage they love while letting their deepest desires for one another surface at the cast party.”

Tedesco’s earlier films include shorts House of La Reine (2018) and August in the City (2017). She is also the founder and producer of Lady Film Media, a production company that “wants to help in the endeavors of strong women around the world reach their full potential in the film and media spectrum.”

 

Jim Tait and two students sit on a boat and talk
Jim Tait with students on a research outing on Long Island Sound

The University community was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of James Tait, Professor of Science Education and Environmental Studies, on April 6, 2021.

Colleagues recall Jim as a passionate teacher and mentor to students: “He advised many, many thesis projects and served on the thesis committee for many others,” said Terese Gemme, Director of the Honors College. “Some of these students weren’t science majors, but were so captivated by what they learned in their classes with Jim, that they continued to take courses in ENV science and completed thesis projects with him.”

Jim, who joined the Southern faculty in 1997, earned tenure in 2002 and was promoted to full professor in 2014, was a co-founder and co-coordinator of the Werth Center for Coastal and Marine Studies. The Center was established 15 years ago to address environmental issues along the Connecticut shoreline and since that time the WCCMS has provided educational and research opportunities for hundreds of Southern students.

“His collaborative nature and his focus on environmental problem solving led to undergraduate and graduate student engagement in all of his courses and field-based research projects,” said Werth Center Co-Director Vince Breslin. “This provided invaluable experience to generations of students at Southern, and many of Jim’s former students have gone on to careers in science, graduate studies and law school. ”

James Tait and students on a boat
Tait on one of many research outings with his students on Long Island Sound

Jim’s expertise was in Coastal Processes and his research, conducted with his students, contributed significantly to the understanding of beach erosion along the Connecticut shoreline, Dr. Breslin said. The outcomes of this work are now assisting regional managers and regulators as they design strategies to reduce the rate of coastal beach erosion.

Jim’s approach of teaching science by “doing science” led to his playing an integral role in bringing the NSF-supported program Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities (SENCER) to Southern, Dr. Breslin said. Jim was part of the university’s SENCER team that was awarded The William E. Bennett Award for Extraordinary Contributions to Citizen Science in 2015. In 2005, Jim and Vince Breslin created the honors course: “Science on the Connecticut Coast: Investigations of an Urbanized Shoreline,” which was accepted as a SENCER model program and has remained highly popular in the Honors College curriculum.

“Jim inspired me and taught me a lot in the last 10 years, starting with his EVE class “Blue Gold” about precipitation, climate change, and water resources back when I was a grad student,” said Suzanne Huminski, Southern’s Sustainability Coordinator. “He was a natural teacher and a good friend. He was really patient, cheerful, and genuinely interested in his students’ ideas.”

Passionate about the benefits of a strong liberal arts education for Southern students, Jim was instrumental in the development and initial implementation of the Liberal Education Program (LEP), as a co-chair of the General Education Taskforce (later the Liberal Education Program Committee). Much of the language around Tier 3 in the original LEP charter comes from Jim’s experiences with SENCER, an organization that argues that science courses should address a “capacious, contemporary issue,” said Therese Bennett, Associate Dean for STEM in the College of Arts & Sciences

Jim, a native of sun bleached Southern California, never forgot his roots: “He was California through and through,” said Patrick Heidkamp, Chair of the Department of Environment, Geography & Marine Sciences. “He bought a house on the beach in East Haven so that he could look out at the Sound and try to recreate the West Coast experience.”

Susan Cusato, Professor of Environment, Geography & Marine Sciences, recalled attending a SENCER Summer Institute in San Jose, during which Jim rented a convertible and took a group of faculty members on a coastal drive to Santa Cruz.

“Along the way, he stopped to talk about fault lines, beach erosion, and numerous other environmental topics – his enthusiasm for environmental science was infectious,” Dr. Cusato said. “Those were good times; I like to think of him that way.”

Southern’s Master of Science in Sport and Entertainment Management program was ranked first on a guide to the “Top 54” online graduate programs in sport management compiled by Intelligence.com, a resource for online degree rankings and higher education planning. Southern’s grad program received top honors and was highlighted as the “Intelligent Pick” by the evaluators, who looked at numerous factors, including accreditation, flexibility, course strength, cost, and reputation. Overall, 332 programs offered by 137 universities and colleges were reportedly reviewed.

Southern’s Master of Science in Sport and Entertainment Management also was included on Intelligent.com’s rating of the “Top 13”  advanced degree programs in entertainment management, where it was recognized for its affordability, in particular. The fully online program is designed to prepare students for a variety of leadership positions in the sport, athletics, and entertainment industries.

Artist’s rendering of the new College of Health and Human Services building, scheduled to be completed in spring 2022

In related news, a new Health and Human Services Building is slated to open in spring 2022. The 94,750-square-foot building will house most departments in the College of Health and Human Services, including recreation, tourism, and sport management; health and movement sciences (formerly exercise science); nursing; communication disorders; and public health. Highlights will include a new Human Performance Teaching and Research Laboratory, a Center for Adaptive Sport and Inclusive Recreation, an expanded Communication Disorders Clinic, and an Audiology Clinic — all of which will be open to the public.

Southern’s graduate program in human performance is one of only two accredited offerings of its kind in New England — and it’s also been recognized as one of the “50 best” by the Sports Management Degree Guide. Sport science programs were evaluated on a variety of factors, including student-to-faculty ratios, tuition, graduation rates, and accreditation. After crunching the numbers, Southern’s master’s degree in exercise science with a focus on human performance program came in at number six on the list and was lauded for its research facilities, in particular. “Students have access to a state-of-the-art research/teaching laboratory with equipment designed to assess body composition, metabolism, and muscle/joint strength and stability,” notes the guide.

Artist’s rendering of the new College of Health and Human Services building, scheduled to be completed in spring 2022.

Furthering the program’s stellar reputation, a new Health and Human Services Building is slated to open in spring 2022. The 94,750-square-foot building will house most departments in the College of Health and Human Services, including health and movement sciences (formerly exercise science); nursing; communication disorders; public health; and recreation, tourism, and sport management. Highlights will include a new Human Performance Teaching and Research Laboratory, a Center for Adaptive Sport and Inclusive Recreation, an expanded Communication Disorders Clinic, and an Audiology Clinic — all of which will be open to the public.