Society for Science & the Public Announces 50 Advocates who will Mentor Underserved Students, Inspiring Them Toward STEM Fields

WASHINGTON, DC — The Society for Science & the Public is pleased to announce this year’s 50 Advocates who will actively work to find underrepresented students opportunities to participate and compete in science research competitions, inspiring them to engage in STEM fields.  

Through the Society’s Advocate Grant Program, educators and scientists mentor and expand opportunities for underrepresented and low-income students who have the potential to excel in STEM fields with additional support.

Each Advocate will mentor a cohort of at least three underrepresented students and help them navigate the sometimes-complicated process involved in entering science research competitions, supporting the students as they complete science research projects and apply to compete in science competitions.

“By building an awareness of science research opportunities and science competitions, the Society’s Advocates are setting students up to realize their full potential in STEM fields,” said Maya Ajmera, President and CEO of the Society for Science & the Public and Publisher of Science News. “The program opens the door for all students, regardless of background, to have the opportunity to gain critical exposure to build a career in science. The Advocate Grant Program is making way for future leaders.”

This year’s Advocates hail from 28 states, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico. They include seven middle school teachers, five teachers who work with middle and high school students, 30 high school teachers, six university professors and two museum educators. Now in its fourth year, the program is continuing to grow and reach more students. In 2017, the Society named 45 Advocates. The program named 31 in 2016, up from nine during its pilot year in 2015. The Society received nearly 250 applications from 46 states as well as Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico.

By informing students about science competitions, helping them to navigate the application process, and imparting a thirst for scientific research, Advocates are implementing a STEM pipeline for students who may not have one otherwise. Students who compete in science competitions come away with critical skills, including the ability to write a research paper and communicate their work to peers and judges.

The Advocate Grant Program is funded by Arconic Foundation, Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, and Regeneron.

2018-2019 Lead Advocates, who will mentor groups of Advocates:

  1. Laurel Bingman, Northbrook High School, Houston, Texas
  2. Charmain Brammer, SUCCESS Academy DSU, St George, Utah
  3. Jennifer Claudio, Oak Grove High School, San Jose, California
  4. Priscilla Lumbreras, Granbury High School, Granbury, Texas
  5. Douglas Masterson, University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, Mississippi
  6. Elizabeth Proctor, Jasper County High School, Monticello, Georgia
  7. Brenda Rubenstein, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island

2018-2019 Advocates:

  1. Marvin Bayro, University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus, San Juan, Puerto Rico
  2. Maya Bhagat, Franklin Learning Center, Philadelphia Pennsylvania
  3. Cheyenne Branscum, Shawnee Middle School, Shawnee, Oklahoma
  4. Denise Caceres, Philadelphia High School for Girls, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  5. Celia Castellanos, Foshay Learning Center, Los Angeles, California
  6. Carrie Cox, Chamberlain High School, Chamberlain, South Dakota
  7. Jennifer Donnelly, Union City High School, Union City, New Jersey
  8. Amy Douglas, Captain Shreve High School, Shreveport, Louisiana
  9. Creighton Edington, Media Arts Collaborative Charter School, Albuquerque, New Mexico
  10. Errik Ejike, Creighton University, Omaha, Nebraska
  11. Conrad Faine, American Senior High School, Hialeah, Florida
  12. Lisa Franchetti, Carver High School for Engineering and Science, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  13. Shannon Fraser, Priest River Lamanna High School, Priest River, Idaho
  14. Mark Friedman, LA Maritime Institute/Animo High School, Inglewood, California
  15. Constantina Green, Lower Richland High School, Hopkins, South Carolina
  16. Cynthia Hopkins, Kaffie Middle School, Corpus Christi, Texas
  17. Tinika Jackson, Eastern Senior High School, Washington, District of Columbia
  18. Merridith Joly, Washington Technology Magnet School, St. Paul, Minnesota
  19. Stephanie Jones, Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy, Atlanta, Georgia
  20. Vincent Joralemon, Frank McCourt High School, New York, New York
  21. Kehkashan Khan, CCA Academy, Chicago, Illinois
  22. Frank LaBanca, Westside Middle School Academy, Danbury, Connecticut
  23. Mindy Levine, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, Rhode Island
  24. Jamie Ludwig, Rider University, Lawrenceville, New Jersey
  25. Reny Mathew, Greyhills Academy High School, Tuba City, Arizona
  26. Pradip Misra, Bagdad High School, Bagdad, Arizona
  27. Andrew Moore, Port Huron High School Port Huron, Michigan
  28. Deborah Morgan, South Sevier High School, Monroe, Utah
  29. Alexis Mychajliw, La Brea Tar Pits & Museum, Los Angeles, California
  30. Marteen Nolan. Crocker R-2 High School, Crocker, Missouri
  31. Lorraine O’Shea, Valley Middle School, Grand Forks, North Dakota
  32. Heather Overkamp, I. C. Norcom High School, Portsmouth, Virginia
  33. Pamela Patterson-Anhalt, Shawano Community High School, Shawano, Wisconsin
  34. Ashley Poloha Wellborn, Pasadena Memorial High School, Pasadena, Texas
  35. Chris Reeves, Camdenton High School, Camdenton, Missouri
  36. Jeanne Richardson, Graham Junior High School, Graham, Texas
  37. Kimberly Ring, Eureka Junior/Senior High School, Eureka, Kansas
  38. Devon Riter, Lower Brule Research/Lower Brule Tribal School, Lower Brule, South Dakota
  39. Sunada Roberts, SciTech High School, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
  40. Tracy Rumbaugh, Omaha Central High School, Omaha, Nebraska
  41. Diana Techentien, Guardian Catholic School, Jacksonville, Florida
  42. Kiwanna Wade, Helena-West Helena Schools, West Helena, Arkansas
  43. Carolyn Walling, Iowa City West High School, Iowa City, Iowa

In addition to a $3,000 stipend, Advocates receive an all-expense paid trip to Washington, DC for the Advocate Training Institute where they learn best practices, connect with each other, and receive training from Society staff. Throughout their one-year term, Advocates connect with their cohort and Society staff in-person and through conference calls, ensuring continued support and vital training.

Seven Advocates will receive an additional $2,000 to serve as a Lead Advocates, a role that involves overseeing a cohort of newer Advocates. Cohorts typically include six to eight Advocates and they are loosely grouped based upon program type. 


About Society for Science & the Public
Society for Science & the Public is dedicated to the achievement of young scientists in independent research and to public engagement in science. Established in 1921, Society is a nonprofit whose vision is to promote the understanding and appreciation of science and the vital role it plays in human advancement. Through its world-class competitions, including the Regeneron Science Talent Search, the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, and the Broadcom MASTERS, and its award-winning magazine, Science News and Science News for Students, Society for Science & the Public is committed to inform, educate, and inspire. Learn more at and follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Snapchat (Society4Science).

Gayle Kansagor