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STEM Education Leaders Honored by RMSC

    ROCHESTER, NY—Nearly 200 teachers and community leaders celebrated at an inaugural Rochester Museum & Science Center (RMSC) event, RMSC STEM Awards last night. The RMSC STEM Awards’ broad recognition of educators, entrepreneurs, researchers and civic leaders in one context is a deliberate public acknowledgement of the shared responsibility to support and promote science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) learning. The RMSC STEM Awards ceremony included Steve Hausmann of WBEE as the MC and took place at 6pm on Wednesday, March 9 at the newly renovated CityView Ballroom at the Strathallan Hotel.

    “It is rewarding to celebrate these inspiring winners and nominees for their dedication to STEM,” said Kate Bennett, president, RMSC. “As an institution that values and demonstrates experiential learning in STEM, we support public recognition of their work as a means to inspire others.” 

    Members of the community nominated individuals and organizations for four distinct STEM awards. Volunteer committee members selected finalists and the winners are described below by category.


    Awards and Winners 

    Leadership Awards in STEM Education—Presented at elementary, secondary and university educational levels, this award recognizes innovative teaching in science, technology, engineering or math education. Educators are recognized for innovation in inspiring students to understand, appreciate and apply STEM fields.

    Winner at Elementary Level: Nathaniel Rochester Community School STEM Team including Peter Mastrogiovanni, Vici Patanella and Tina Rodger. A designated Transformation Model School, the school offers several STEM-focused events, partnerships and programs with science-focused curriculum. This movement has led to an increased family participation in students’ learning.

    Winner at Secondary Level: Paul Conrow, East School Precision Optics. Paul created and designed the East Upper School Precision Optics program, which teaches the skills necessary for students to attain careers in the photonics STEM pathway. Paul’s impactful work has earned $2 million in grant support and serves as a model for secondary schools seeking to support students’ advancement into skills services occupations.

    Winner at University Level: Dr. April Luehmann, Associate Professor of Teaching & Curriculum, Warner School of Education, University of Rochester. Dr. Luehmann’s work presents an exciting vision for pre-service teacher training.  Her specialized model is uniquely designed to position new teachers for success in the classroom. 

    The Catalyst Award—The Catalyst Award recognizes an organization or representative of an organization that develops and encourages an environment that promotes innovation in science and technology or that has utilized science and technology to form a lasting impact on the Greater Rochester Region. 

    Winner: Dr. Duncan Moore, Vice Provost of Entrepreneurship, Rudolf and Hilda Kingslake Professor in Optical Engineering Science, Professor of Optics, Professor of BioMedical Engineering, Professor of Business Administration, University of Rochester. Dr. Moore is an esteemed mentor to a great many optical scientists and entrepreneurs. Moore’s effort to aid in educating researchers has fostered numerous opportunities that have aided significant growth in our area’s optics-related industries. His work in government and industry led to a three–and-a-half year appointment in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy as the Senate-confirmed Associate Director of Technology. He has also earned nearly $43 million in sponsored funding support for grants and research initiatives and holds 18 U.S. patents focusing on solar cells and gradient index materials.

    STEM Communicator Award—The RMSC work as a cultural institution includes recognizing those who successfully engage diverse audiences in STEM. This year’s award went to Jarod Miller, a naturalist and communicator, who also delivered a keynote address at the event. Jarod Miller’s keynote address masterfully humanized the process of communicating STEM in public contexts. During college, Jarod became a regular guest on several national late night and daytime talk shows, including The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Rachael Ray, and NBC Today, and a correspondent for news programs across the country. At age 25, he became the youngest accredited zoo director and helped transform the Binghamton Zoo. Continuing his goal of educating the public about animals, Jarod soon went on to host his own television series, Animal Exploration with Jarod Miller and primetime series for Animal Planet and CBS.

    President’s Civic Award—Presented by RMSC President Kate Bennett and RMSC Board of Trustees Chair John Carver was the Civic Award, a long-time tradition brought back. This award honors an individual who shares RMSC’s enthusiasm for science and learning and who has provided exemplary service to our community. The Civic Medal was first given in 1938 when RMSC was known as the Rochester Museum of Arts and Sciences. The medal was presented for many years to individuals for their service to the community, though it has not been awarded since 1993.

    The RMSC proudly presented Dr. James Meyer with the 2016 Civic Award. Jim served 30 years at Kodak in various roles, including Chief Technical Officer and Director of R&D. Jim, an exemplary RMSC ambassador, joined the RMSC board of trustees in 1994 and served as board chair in 1997 and 1998. He’s been an honorary trustee since 2003. Jim founded the RMSC volunteer Technical Advisory Group during the transformation of the RMSC exhibition model and is instrumental in building hands-on exhibits. Jim’s personal, multi-tiered history of supporting the RMSC is recognized as a benchmark for individuals seeking to support the work of cultural institutions in several ways, from practical day-to-day challenges to the highest level strategic priorities.


    The RMSC STEM Awards is designed to be an annual celebration of those who continue to make Rochester a hub for innovation and discovery.

    Rochester Museum & Science Center (RMSC) includes the Science Museum, Strasenburgh Planetarium and Cumming Nature Center. Offering experiences at the Museum with more than 200 interactive exhibits, Planetarium with a 65-foot dome and Nature Center on 900 acres, the RMSC stimulates community interest in exploration. In addition, the more than 1.2 million RMSC collection items tell the story of Rochester’s past including its rich history of innovation and invention. RMSC receives major funding from Monroe County, where it is one of the top three most visited attractions serving children and families. For more information about RMSC, visit Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.