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New Advocates meet, share best practices

Over a dozen Advocates convened in Washington, D.C. during the weekend of June 3. PHOTOS COURTESY OF JESSICA YURINKO PHOTOGRAPHY.

More than a dozen Advocates convened in Washington, D.C. during the weekend of June 3 to meet and discuss best methods for assisting underserved students in entering science research competitions. The Advocates are the 2016-2017 class of the Advocate Grant Program.

Lead Led by Victor Hall, the Society’s senior specialist for outreach, and Caitlin Sullivan, the Society’s director of science education programs and Regeneron Science Talent Search program manager, the event taught the Advocates about different competitions available to students, the timing of each aspect of the competitions, and what is required to participate.  More importantly, though, it provided a forum for them to meet others from across the country who are working towards the same goal of reaching these underserved students.

“Just bringing these Advocates into a room together, in person, is incredibly valuable. We at the Society may be experts in competitions, but they are experts on working with these students on a daily basis,” says Sullivan. “The biggest resource we provide to them is the opportunity to utilize each other’s expertise, generate new ideas, troubleshoot challenges, and serve as a support for each other.”

The Society received 240 applications from 45 states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico.  Thirty-one science mentors were selected by Society for Science & the Public as the 2016–2017 Advocate Grant Program participants. Some are high school and middle school teachers, while others are Ph.D. scientists and community leaders.

These Advocates will mentor students of underrepresented ethnicity and low income around the country.  Each receives a stipend of $3,000 to guide three to five of these students in entering their scientific or engineering research project into competitions. These research competitions may include, but are not limited to, the Society’s three programs: the Regeneron Science Talent Search, Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF), or Broadcom MASTERS.

The grant is sponsored by the Alcoa Foundation, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, and the Society.

To sign up for a notification when next year’s Advocate application opens, email

View photos from the weekend below:

Then, the Advocates closed their eyes and held up a bottle to their noses. They tried to figure out which store the air was bottled, just through smell.

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