Funded by the NOAA Educational Partnership Program with Minority-Serving Institutions Cooperative Agreement Award #NA16SEC4810009

View Original Article From Capital Soup

Dr. Larry Robinson

Florida A&M University President Larry Robinson, Ph.D., has been appointed to serve on a new national advisory panel created to encourage U.S. scientific and technological innovations in education.

The National Science Foundation (NSF), in consultation with the Department of Education, NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) today announced the appointment of 18 members to the panel, which was authorized by the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act. The STEM Education Advisory Panel is composed of individuals from nonprofit, business, academic and informal education organizations.

“It is an honor to be selected to serve on this inaugural panel of outstanding individuals,” said Robinson. “I look forward to working with them to advance our nation’s STEM agenda.”

President Robinson is also director of NOAA’s Center for Coastal and Marine Ecosystems at FAMU and a distinguished professor in the School of the Environment.

Gabriela Gonzalez, Greater Americas Region deputy director of Intel Corporation, will chair the new STEM Education Advisory Panel. David Evans, executive director of the National Science Teachers Association, will serve as vice chair.

Congress authorized the creation of the STEM Education Advisory Panel to advise a group of federal organizations called the Committee on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Education (CoSTEM) on matters related to STEM education.

In particular, Congress authorized the panel to help identify opportunities to update the 2013-2018 Federal STEM Education 5-Year Strategic Plan, which CoSTEM developed to improve the efficiency, coordination and impact of federally supported STEM education investments.

In addition, the panel will assess CoSTEM’s progress in carrying out responsibilities mandated by the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act.

“This new panel has an opportunity to bring fresh eyes and novel approaches to CoSTEM’s next five-year strategic plan, which will help enhance the nation’s entire STEM ecosystem,” said NSF Director France Córdova, who co-chairs CoSTEM. “NSF continues to generate benefits for society through STEM research. To fulfill that mission, we and our federal partners need to make strategic investments to create new generations of discoverers.”

“This advisory panel is another strong step taken by this administration to advance educational options in the STEM fields,” said Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, a CoSTEM member. “I look forward to working with this exceptional new group of STEM leaders to ensure we are constantly rethinking what education means for America’s students.”

“STEM is vital for NOAA to protect lives and property, enhance the economy, and conserve natural resources,” said NOAA acting undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere, retired Navy Rear Adm. Tim Gallaudet. “As a member of CoSTEM, I look forward to working with this distinguished panel and hearing their recommendations that will help advance these efforts.

NASA is proud of the many ways that its missions inspire the next generation of STEM leaders. Across the spectrum of our work, students and educators have many opportunities to learn from and engage with our work,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, who co-chairs CoSTEM. “We’re going back to the moon and on to Mars, and we’re going to keep doing the amazing things that will help fill the pipeline of new explorers and create a bright future.”

The members of the panel are:

Vince Bertram, president and CEO, Project Lead the Way, Inc.

Douglas Clements, Kennedy Endowed Chair in Early Childhood Learning, executive director of the Marsico Institute for Early Learning and Literacy, and professor, University of Denver

Lizanne DeStefano, executive director, Center for Education Integrating Science, Georgia Institute of Technology

Arthur Eisenkraft, distinguished professor of science education and director of the Center of Science and Math in Context (COSMIC), the University of Massachusetts, Boston

David Evans, executive director, National Science Teachers Association

Gabriela Gonzalez, Greater Americas Region deputy director, Intel Corporation

Jacqueline Huntoon, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, Michigan Technological University

Aimee Kennedy, senior vice president for education, Battle

Laurie Leshin, president, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Robert Mathieu, director, Wisconsin Center for Education Research, University of Wisconsin-Madison Ray Mellado, chairman of the board and founder, Great Minds in STEM

Ioannis (Yannis) Miaoulis, president and director, Museum of Science, Boston

K. Renae Pullen, K-6 science curriculum instructional specialist, Caddo Parish Public Schools

Kimberly Scott, professor of Women and Gender Studies, Arizona State University

Robert Semper, associate executive director, Exploratorium

William (Yslas) Velez, emeritus professor of Mathematics, The University of Arizona

To read more about President Robinson, click here.


CCME 2018 Annual Meeting


The 2018 CCME Annual Meeting was held in Miami, FL from April 12-13, and hosted by the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML) and the Southeast Fisheries Science Center (SEFSC). Thank you to all participants for your contribution to the meaningful engagement. 

Students Explore the Mississippi Gulf Coast as Part of Major NOAA Grant

In fall 2017, a dozen FAMU student researchers and their professors visited the Mississippi Gulf Coast to take their classroom lessons into the field and connect with their colleagues at partner institutions.

Environmental sciences more than just playing with dirt

UTRGV’s SEEMS offers course of study with earning potential


YOUTUBE VIDEO  by Malena Hernandez:

By Malena Hernandez

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – FEB. 12, 2018 – When Rebekah Hernandez chose her major, her family was concerned. She remembers them asking, “Are you sure you want to do this? Do you even have job opportunities with this? What is going to happen with your life?”


Hernandez, a UTRGV graduate student in the School of Earth, Environmental, and Marine Sciences (SEEMS), said her father just wanted to make sure she didn’t live paycheck to paycheck.


But for Hernandez, environmental science was more than just a course of study. It was work that needed to be done.

“I want to be part of what’s being done to conserve our waters and conserve what’s in our oceans. I’m concerned about habitats that are being degraded, habitats that are being destroyed,” she said.


Dr. David Hicks, SEEMS director, said the perception that environmental science careers do not have earning potential may be a contributing factor to an underrepresentation of minorities in the field.


“I think it’s a matter of them not really knowing there are well-paying, rewarding jobs in the sciences, other than being a physician,” he said.


In 2016, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that pay for environmental scientists and specialists ranged from $41,220 to $120,320, with a median annual wage of $68,910.


The agency also predicted these jobs will grow faster than the average of all occupations until 2026.


While minorities are currently a small part of that workforce, UTRGV is working with other organizations to see they are well represented in the future.


“There are a lot of state and federal programs that target training for minority students in order to increase their representation in the science fields,” Hicks said.




UTRGV is one of six minority-serving universities in the nation participating in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Center for Coastal and Marine Ecosystems. The program’s mission is “to recruit, train and graduate students, particularly from underrepresented communities.”


“The program actually provides very attractive support for both undergraduate and graduate students that relates to marine coastal and environmental science,” Hicks said.


Professional development, like résumé writing and networking, is included.


Hernandez said the grant she received has opened many doors for her.


“I'm on a NOAA grant. With this grant, you get to meet a lot of NOAA scientists,” she said. “It opens a lot of job opportunities.”


She traveled to Mississippi in July as part of a class to learn about coastal and marine resources, and in November, the UTRGV graduate student was part of an eight-day expedition from Panama City, Panama, to Key West, Florida, conducting ocean-floor mapping.


“It’s one of those experiences that you don’t want to miss out on,” she said.




Another program at UTRGV aiming to increase minority representation in environmental sciences is SHIP-GEO, which stands for Stimulating Hispanic Participation in the Geosciences. Participants get hands-on experience during field trips, and their families are invited.


“We try to encourage family to participate, because we want to change their thinking in terms of their child, in terms of career,” said Dr. Chu-Lin Cheng, a UTRGV assistant professor for SEEMS and the Department of Civil Engineering.


“The family impression is that if you go play in the dirt – in the environment – that’s not a good money-making career in the long run,” he said.


In addition to hands-on training, research, and alumni mentoring, students can also apply for SHIP-GEO scholarships, which aim to help with program retention.


“We keep students in the program, have them graduate with an environmental science degree, and by the networking component, we help them get a job,” Cheng said. “We also have outreach to local high schools, because we know we have to plant the seeds from K to 12 to protect our own environment, our own backyard – the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas.”


Hicks said that, in addition to the career potential for students, environmental sciences play an important role in all our lives.


“We try to think of ourselves as somehow separated from our environment, but we’re very much integrated in our environment,” he said. “A bad environment for nature is a bad environment for us.”


Hernandez said she wants to study environmental science because she wants the work she does to be worthwhile.


“If you really want to do something that’s going to benefit our environment and benefit lives and generations to come, I would do something environmentally based, because we're always going to need scientists,” she said.


To learn more about the programs available at the UTRGV School of Earth, Environmental and Marine Sciences, visit




Rebekah Hernandez, a UTRGV SEEMS graduate student, in November participated in a NOAA expedition from Panama City, Panama, to Key West, Florida, in November. (Photo courtesy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)




The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 as the first major public university of the 21st century in Texas. This transformative initiative provided the opportunity to expand educational opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley, including a new School of Medicine, and made it possible for residents of the region to benefit from the Permanent University Fund – a public endowment contributing support to the University of Texas System and other institutions.


UTRGV has campuses and off-campus research and teaching sites throughout the Rio Grande Valley including in Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville (formerly The University of Texas at Brownsville campus), Edinburg (formerly The University of Texas-Pan American campus), Harlingen, McAllen, Port Isabel, Rio Grande City, and South Padre Island. UTRGV, a comprehensive academic institution, enrolled its first class in the fall of 2015, and the School of Medicine welcomed its first class in the summer of 2016.




This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

UTRGV Senior Writer / 956-882-8787


This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

UTRGV Director of News and Internal Communications / 956-665-2742