Volunteer Viewpoints: Karen Kinsman - Society for Science Skip to content

Volunteer Viewpoints: Karen Kinsman

ISEF finalists from New Mexico posed in front of an ISEF banner
ISEF finalists from New Mexico pose for a group photo Courtesy of Karen Kinsman

The Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair is the world’s largest global science competition for high school students. As you might imagine, ISEF would not be possible without the hard work of thousands of dedicated volunteers and judges. As we approach ISEF 2022 in Atlanta this May, we will publish a series of posts introducing you to some of these talented and dedicated individuals—and hopefully offer a glimpse into many different volunteer experiences. For this installment, meet Karen Kinsman.

Karen is the Director/Senior Program Manager of the University of New Mexico STEM-H Center, and the Co-director of the Central New Mexico STEM Research Challenge, a member of ISEF’s Affiliated Fair Network. Here are some of Karen’s reflections on her experiences at ISEF, as well as on her career advancing STEM opportunities for students in New Mexico: 

Photo of Karen Kinsman
Courtesy of Karen Kinsman

“It’s been nearly 20 years since I stepped into the world of precollege STEM research competition management. I have been a director for a fair affiliated with the Society for Science’s International Science and Engineering Fair, spent several years directing the regional Science Olympiad and Junior Science and Humanities competitions in New Mexico, and seen the University of New Mexico STEM-H Center grow into what it is today. The center seeks to expand science, technology, engineering, math and health opportunities in New Mexico. It has been a long, challenging and very fulfilling journey.

“There are two things that have risen and stayed at the top of my “gratitude pile” over the course of my career. First are the relationships built and nurtured. Second are the networks of people, both students and educators, that I have helped grow and develop. I have been told that connecting people is my superpower. But it’s more than that: It’s my passion all day, every day! Through ISEF and our regional competitions, I have facilitated connections that have resulted in mentorships, in the birth of creative new partnerships, and in the identification of some truly wonderful career opportunities for our alumni.

“My excitement for the future is interwoven with my many fond memories of volunteering at ISEF over the years, including providing support at registration or other elements of the fair. I recall all the students I’ve had the privilege to support and the amazing things they have already accomplished early in their careers and lives. I revel in our conversations, especially when they tell me all about what they’re doing now. I recall all the tireless, selfless educators who gave everything they had to their students so they could be successful. It’s a privilege to be able to form genuine connections with so many students and educators, and to support each of them on their journeys to amazing successes.

“I may not be a scientist, engineer, mathematician or technical genius. But man, can I bring people together—and it’s so exciting to build the strong networks that are powering the future of STEM innovation in New Mexico and beyond.”

If you are interested in volunteering at Regeneron ISEF, please email isefvolunteer@societyforscience.org

Kevin Easterly