Society for Science awards $274,000 to 84 teachers who will mentor and lead students to independent scientific research and STEM competitions - Society for Science Skip to content


Society for Science awards $274,000 to 84 teachers who will mentor and lead students to independent scientific research and STEM competitions

A Society for Science Advocate observes students doing research in a school lab.
Society for Science announces the 2022 Advocates. Courtesy of Lead Advocate Elizabeth Bieri

Today, Society for Science, one of the nation’s most prominent scientific and educational institutions, is excited to share the roster of 84 dedicated educators who have been named to the organization’s Advocate Program for the 2022-2023 school year. Now in its eighth year, the Advocate Program recognizes and honors the perseverance, hard work and fundamental role that teachers and mentors play in inspiring and supporting students who are our future STEM problem-solvers, critical thinkers and talent — they will be the next generation of climate scientists, biotechnologists, data analysts, astronomers and engineers. 

With more than half of American students back in school this week, teachers will continue to adjust their classrooms for in-person learning, make up for learning loss and overcome the pervasive issue of a teacher shortage. Teachers will help uplift student populations through their work. The Advocates will lead the charge by expanding opportunities and participation of students from historically underserved and underrepresented races or ethnicities and low-income households in independent science research and competitions. These mentors will work to transition their student from hands-on research to successful entry of those projects into science fairs, making STEM career pathways more welcoming, possible and inclusive for all. Often these mentors also present their students with potential research opportunities. After recruiting a cohort of students, educators will help learners stay on top of a variety of logistical tasks such as selecting eligible competitions, gathering materials and meeting deadlines.

This year, 73 Advocates will each receive a $3,000 stipend, while 11 Lead Advocates will each receive $5,000 and oversee a group of educators in the program. This year there are 34 returning Advocates, including Lead Advocates. The program operates in one-year cycles where Advocates work to increase the number of students they guide through the research and competition processes. All Advocates aim to add a minimum of three–five additional students each cycle, depending on their setting, individual goals and experience level.

“Since the Advocate Program launched seven years ago, nearly 4,000 students across the country have entered esteemed science competitions, including some of our own. This is particularly encouraging and exciting because this means these young scientists are being raised to be the world’s next generation of problem solvers,” said Maya Ajmera, President and CEO of the Society for Science and Publisher of Science News. “I’m thrilled to honor our Advocates this year — these teachers are heroes who are fundamentally changing the trajectory of the lives of diverse students through this program.”

To date, Advocates have supported more than 5,100 students during their participation in the program, of which, nearly 4,000 have successfully competed in at least one science research competition. During the 2021-2022 cycle, approximately 75% of student mentees participated in science competitions at the local and/or national level. Overall, students of Advocates are responsible for over 6,300 unique competition entries, with many students entering more than one competition. Ninety percent of those students are from low-income households and 70% are of a race or ethnicity underrepresented in STEM.

Award recipients this year hail from 36 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and this is also the first time the program has international educators — four teachers from Mexico. Twenty-six are middle school teachers, 37 are high school teachers and four teach both middle and high school. This year, there are also two educators affiliated with universities, four who teach at both a high school and a university, four are district level staff and seven work in nonprofit settings. The program serves a variety of school types in urban, rural and suburban areas. This year’s Advocates represents 71 public schools, 14 magnet schools, eight charter and three private schools.

In June of this year, the Advocates met at an Advocate Training Institute in Washington D.C. Lead Advocates met with their educator cohorts and engaged in small discussions on key topics including analyzing big data sets, starting a school science and engineering fair, managing student research programs in rural schools, collaborating with community partners in urban schools and much more.

This year’s Advocate Program is made possible by Arconic Foundation, Intel Corporation, Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, National Geographic Society and Regeneron.

The following are 2022-2023 Lead Advocates, who will oversee groups of Advocates:

  1. Ramon Benavides, Del Valle High School (El Paso, TX)
  2. Elizabeth Bieri, Cristo Rey Jesuit Houston (Houston, TX)
  3. Cameron Cooley, Memphis Academy of Science and Engineering (Memphis, TN)
  4. Edwina Kinchington, Pittsburgh Science and Technology Academy (Pittsburgh, PA)
  5. Andrea LaRosa, Westside Middle School Academy (Danbury, CT)
  6. Allyson McFalls, Blowing Rock Elementary School (Blowing Rock, NC)
  7. Amy Melby, Yuma High School (Yuma, CO)
  8. Jessica Menchaca, Del Valle ISD (Del Valle, TX)
  9. Jacqueline Nichols, Sunnyside Unified School District (Tucson, AZ)
  10. Yajaira Torres-De Jesus, Colegio Rosa Bell (Guaynabo, PR)
  11. Joshua Truitt, Clarke County Schools (Athens, GA)

The following are 2022-2023 Advocates:

  1. Lance Atkinson, Eisenhower High School (Rialto, CA)
  2. Aishat Balogun, Bloomington High School North (Bloomington, IN)
  3. Stephen Beall, City High School (Tucson, AZ)
  4. Gemma Bognot-Clarke, Chesapeake Math & IT Public Charter (Laurel, MD)
  5. Humberto Bracho, Frick United Academy of Language (Oakland, CA)
  6. Mary Brown, John Marshall School of Engineering (Cleveland, OH)
  7. Denise Caceres, Philadelphia High School for Girls (Philadelphia, PA)
  8. Christina Campos, West Oso Junior High (Corpus Christi, TX)
  9. Leslie Cannon, ATLAS Academy at Tennyson Middle School (Waco, TX)
  10. Renee Cordes, Flathead High School (Kalispell, MT)
  11. Norma Cullo, Bronx International High School (Bronx, NY)
  12. Rochelle Darville, West St. John High School (Edgard, LA)
  13. Alan Daugherty, Melrose Municipal Schools (Melrose, NM)
  14. Dannielle Davis, Circle of Excellence Network (St. Louis, MO)
  15. Jessica Doiron, Freedom High School (Woodbridge, VA)
  16. Michele Drayton, Richard T. Crane Medical Preparatory High School (Chicago, IL)
  17. Mark Eastburn, Princeton High School (Princeton, NJ)
  18. Ryne Emerick, Lebanon High School (Lebanon, MO)
  19. Nancy Gamez, CECyTE Jalisco (Tlajomulco de Zúñiga, Jalisco, Mexico)
  20. Eleonor Gómez Rebolledo, Kumutú STEAM (La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico)
  21. Jasmin Graham, Minorities in Shark Sciences (Bradenton, FL)
  22. John Gresham, Tompkins High School (Katy, TX)
  23. Julia Griffith, Red Bird Christian School (Beverly, KY)
  24. Phebe Priscilla Fuentes, Homer Hanna Early College High School (Brownsville, TX)
  25. Marquita Hammock, Southwest Leadership Academy (Philadelphia, PA)
  26. Naomi Hampson, YMWIC Foundation, Inc. (Cheyney, PA)
  27. Tahnee Harrell, Miramar High School (Miramar, FL)
  28. Jennifer Hatch, Medomak Valley High School (Waldoboro, ME)
  29. Kristina Hellmich, Two Rivers Middle School Public Charter School (Washington, DC)
  30. Dede Henderson, South Hamilton CSD (Jewell, IA)
  31. Rebecca Hooper, Laurel School District (Laurel, MS)
  32. Todd Ireland, 100 Black Men of Douglasville, Inc. (Douglasville, GA)
  33. Sunday Iwalaiye, Prince George’s County Public Schools (Laurel, MD)
  34. Ann Jackson, Miller Middle School (Marshalltown, IA)
  35. Karen Johnson, Evanston Township High School (Evanston, IL)
  36. Patricia Jolliff, Richardson PREP HI Middle School (San Bernadino, CA)
  37. Andrea Jydstrup-McKinney, West Career and Technical Academy (Las Vegas NV)
  38. Robert Keeney, Rio Rancho High School (Rio Rancho, NM)
  39. Nancy Kincaid, Eastside High School (Gainesville, FL)
  40. Elizabeth King, Indiana Math and Science Academy West (Indianapolis, IN)
  41. Jeannine Lanphear, North Brunswick Township Public Schools (North Brunswick, NJ)
  42. Gaurang Limachia, GoSTEM (Chicago, IL)
  43. Amy Mallozzi, Oregon State University (Corvallis, OR)
  44. Ben Martin, St. Clair High School (St. Clair, MO)
  45. Maria Martinez, Harmony School of Excellence Laredo (Laredo, TX)
  46. Erin Mayer, Casey Middle School (Boulder, CO)
  47. Joy Mordica, Equity Research Group, Inc. (Atlanta, GA)
  48. Cynthia Moss, Los Angeles Academy Middle School (Los Angeles, CA)
  49. Lalitha Murali, Glen Hills Middle School (Glendale, WI)
  50. Susana Oliu, John Muir High School Early College Magnet (Pasadena, CA)
  51. Eual Phillips, Hill-Freedman World Academy (Philadelphia, PA)
  52. Breily Poot Ek, Hunab Proyecto De Vida AC (Nuevo Yucatán, Mérida, Mexico)
  53. Tyrikia Porter, Meridian Public School District (Meridian, MS)
  54. Cecilie Prine, Lander Middle School (Lander, WY)
  55. Mary-Elizabeth Quan, Ontario-Montclair School District (Ontario, CA)
  56. Texas Quezada, Travis Early College High School (Austin, TX)
  57. Liliana Ramírez Freire, Prepatatoria 16, UANL (San Nicolás de los Garza, N.L., Mexico)
  58. Alfred Santos, Harvest Preparatory Academy (Yuma, AZ)
  59. Sharon Sapp, Tucson High Magnet School (Tucson, AZ)
  60. Alicia Simonti, Forest Grove Middle School (Worcester, MA)
  61. Heather Sims, Hobart High School (Hobart, OK)
  62. Melissa Sleeper, Storm Grove Middle School (Vero Beach, FL)
  63. Bradley Spencer, Weber School District (Roy, UT)
  64. Brandy Tanner, Mt. Abram Regional High School (Salem Township, ME)
  65. Andy Thompson, Acton-Boxborough Regional School District (Acton, MA)
  66. Sergio Torres, Hot Springs High School (Truth or Consequences, NM)
  67. Andi Twiss, New Millennium Academy (Brooklyn Center, MN)
  68. Kiara T. Vann, Stratford STEM Magnet High School (Nashville, TN)
  69. Martha Warren, Jennings Senior High School (Dorsey, MO)
  70. John Wiley, Challenge School (Centennial, CO)
  71. Laura Wommack, Mansfield High School (Mansfield, WA)
  72. Sara Yeh, Dr. Augustine Ramirez Intermediate (Eastvale, CA)
  73. Jean Yoo, Almeria Middle School (Fontana, CA) 

For additional information about the Advocate Program, visit:

Media Contact:
Aparna Paul (she/her)
Director of Communications
Society for Science

Rachel Myers