On November 12, 2012, the Academy premiered a series of short films at the Science & the City 9th Annual Gala, the theme of which was "Strengthening the STEM Pipeline: Mentoring the Innovators of Tomorrow." The films showcase the Academy's programs in four critical areas of the STEM Pipeline: K-12 education, higher education, professional community building, and international collaboration.
"The Academy's STEM-related programs focus on repairing the cracks and bolstering the weak areas in the existing STEM pipeline—from inspiring a first love of STEM subjects in school-age children, to providing opportunities for established scientists to network with peers across fields and organizations. These efforts are vital to creating the next generation of capable scientists who will be able to positively contribute to tackling the world's most pressing problems," said Academy President and CEO Ellis Rubinstein.
More than 400 global leaders in science, education, government, industry, and academia, as well as a host of special guests—including middle school students, science teachers, and graduate student mentors—came together at the Gala to recognize and support the Academy's efforts in key areas. Guests also celebrated the winners and finalists of the 2012 Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists.
On hand to introduce each programmatic area and provide remarks about the Academy's contributions and partnerships in these areas were the following distinguished guests:
- Nancy L. Zimpher, Chancellor, The State University of New York; Board Chair, The New York Academy of Sciences;
- Dennis M. Walcott, Chancellor, New York City Department of Education;
- Barbara Murphy-Warrington, CEO, Girl Scouts of Greater New York;
- Alice Gast, President, Lehigh University; Governor, The New York Academy of Sciences;
- Paul Stoffels, Chief Scientific Officer, Johnson & Johnson; Member, Johnson & Johnson Executive Committee; Worldwide Chairman, Pharmaceuticals, Johnson & Johnson; Governor, The New York Academy of Sciences;
- Laurie H. Glimcher, Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean, Weill Cornell Medical College Provost of Medical Affairs, Cornell University;
- John Sexton, President, New York University; Governor, The New York Academy of Sciences; and
- Dato' Sri Dr. Zakri Abdul Hamid, Science Advisor, Prime Minister's Office, Malaysia, and Professor Emeritus.
The Academy's Afterschool STEM Mentoring Program in New York City and Newark, NJ, trains and places young scientists (who need critical teaching experience) in low-income middle schools (where the majority of students receive little to no hands-on STEM education). The mentors inspire the middle school students to take an interest, and gain confidence, in STEM subjects through engaging, hands-on activities that take place in community-based afterschool programs.
The Academy and the State University of New York (SUNY) recently received a prestigious $2.95 million grant from the National Science Foundation that will allow them to scale the Afterschool STEM Mentoring Program throughout New York State. The Academy is also working with the Girl Scouts of the USA to scale the program to hundreds of Girl Scouts Councils nationwide, for which the Girl Scouts of Greater New York is currently serving as a pilot site.
The Academy also supports science teachers through its Pathways to Science programming, which connects teachers, provides helpful resources for teaching STEM subjects, and holds events on timely education-related topics.
The Academy's Science Alliance, a consortium of universities, teaching hospitals, independent research facilities, and organizations, connects more than 8,000 graduate and postdoctoral students to the Academy community. The Science Alliance helps scientists-in-training attain successful and rewarding careers by providing career development courses, as well as unparalleled networking opportunities through events with leaders in academia and industry.
Professional Community Building
The Academy creates unparalleled networking opportunities for scientists in a variety of fields and disciplines through Frontiers of Science, its core program for scientific conferences and symposia. Bringing together international experts and partners from academia, industry, government, and beyond, Frontiers of Science provides a neutral forum for participants to exchange information on basic and applied research and to discuss the broader role of science, medicine, and technology in society. In addition to organizing 12–14 international interdisciplinary conferences each year, Frontiers of Science also runs an extensive schedule of events organized around interdisciplinary discussion groups focused on current topics in the life sciences, physical sciences, and green science and sustainability, totaling approximately 80 meetings each year.
The Academy's membership is global and so too is its outreach; it has a rich history of collaborating on pressing social and scientific challenges with countries like Mexico, Russia, the United Kingdom, Qatar, and most recently, Malaysia. The Prime Minister of Malaysia has invested heavily in all stages of the STEM pipeline and is partnering with the Academy to create programs in Malaysia that will foster the next generation of global innovators. These programs are developed through The Global Science and Innovation Advisory Council. Dato' Sri Dr. Zakri Abdul Hamid, the Science Advisor to the Prime Minster, traveled from Malaysia to convey the Prime Minister's support for global partnerships, including an initiative led by the Academy, the State University of New York, and leading Malaysian education institutes, to Gala attendees.
In addition to helping other countries bolster STEM education from within, the Academy is invested in connecting the global community of STEM-interested women with each other, and providing support throughout the educational process. The Academy, the U.S. State Department (represented at the Gala by the Deputy Science and Technology Advisor to the U.S. Secretary of State, Dr. Frances Colón), and a consortium of 39 U.S. women's colleges are collaborating to empower women from countries with predominantly Muslim populations to pursue STEM fields at the undergraduate level through the NeXXt Scholars Initiative, which was launched in December 2011 by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton via video address. The international scholars have been matched with American "STEM-sisters" at their respective colleges; all women receive mentorship from a STEM professional, Academy memberships, and ongoing program support.
The Blavatnik Awards for Young Sciences
Gala attendees celebrated 11 promising young researchers who serve society with their work. "Their exceptional discoveries represent our future and our hope for a better world for all," said Academy Governor Len Blavatnik, Founder and Chairman of Access Industries and Head of the Blavatnik Family Foundation, who congratulated this year's winners and finalists of The Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists.
Established in 2007 by the Blavatnik Family Foundation, this awards program recognizes researchers who make innovative, impactful, and interdisciplinary advances in the life and physical sciences, mathematics, and engineering. The concept of the awards is unique in that it bridges more than 30 scientific disciplines from the natural sciences to engineering and math.
About the New York Academy of Sciences
The New York Academy of Sciences is an independent, not-for-profit organization that since 1817 has been committed to advancing science, technology, and society worldwide. With 25,000 members in 140 countries, the Academy is creating a global community of science for the benefit of humanity. The Academy's core mission is to advance scientific knowledge, positively impact the major global challenges of society with science-based solutions, and increase the number of scientifically informed individuals in society at large. Please visit us online at www.nyas.org.