Dr. Cora Marrett, Deputy Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF), addressed the 2012 Class of SSP Fellows at the closing dinner of the Fellows Institute this Friday, August 3. Marrett served on the SSP Board of Trustees from 2001-2006 and has held appointed positions at the NSF since 1992.
The NSF is a federal agency that promotes science, primarily by providing grant funding for basic research at universities. In addition, NSF provides grants for equipment needed for research that is too expensive for one group/researcher to purchase, and it supports science and engineering education across the spectrum.
“SSP and the Fellows program specifically means a lot to me. My colleagues have admitted, somewhat sheepishly, that they turn to Science News [SSP’s flagship publication] for news outside of their disciplines,” Marrett said. She went on to highlight the connections between the SSP Fellowship and the mission of the NSF: both seek to prepare future researchers by integrating education and research, are committed to diversity, and embrace a positive orientation toward helping others. Marrett praised the different routes Fellows had taken to reach their current positions, saying there “is no one necessary path that you need to follow. We should be discussing pathways, not the pipeline” when discussing ways to build a cadre of future scientific researchers.
Marrett praised the Fellows for “sharing a commitment to helping students overcome obstacles that some would consider impossible to overcome” by working to introduce independent research to students who are newly arrived immigrants, low-income, and face disabilities. SSP Fellowship applicants must teach at a school with an enrollment that is at least 40% underrepresented minority and/or with at least 30% of students receiving free or reduced rate lunches to be eligible for the program. Marrett closed by saying that she “tries to see the nation as always at the forefront because we are investing and cultivating diverse talent. You Fellows are our partners in this; and our nation is in great hands.”
Elizabeth Marincola, SSP President and Publisher of Science News, joined with Dr. Marrett to present the Fellows with certificates, praising them for “concluding an outstanding week of intensive training.” Many members of the 2012 Fellowship class expressed a desire to stay in touch to continue to learn from each other as they begin to implement their independent research programs.
The SSP Fellowship, sponsored by Intel, offers under-resourced high school science and math teachers funds and training to support the success of their most enthusiastic science students in independent scientific research.