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Students Earn Math and Science Scholarships

 Students Earn Math and Science Scholarships

12/03/2010 

When SUNY Cortland junior Margaret Murphy thinks about the scholarship that supports her and 16 other promising future math and science teachers who are mastering their skills, she recalls the high school science teacher who inspired her. 

“I can remember this one experiment,” said Murphy, an adolescence education: physics major from Oriskany, N.Y. “My teacher, Mrs. Mann, laid her body across a full bed of nails as another teacher placed a cement block on her stomach and then proceeded to hit it with a sledgehammer. My class sat there in awe; the concrete broke but my teacher didn’t get hurt.”

Murphy is a recipient of the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship, which encourages talented science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) majors and professionals to become K-12 mathematics and science educators.  The SUNY Cortland Noyce Scholarship Project is funded by a $900,000 five-year grant that the National Science Foundation awarded to the College in 2009-10.

The program will assist up to 50 students interested in teaching. The juniors and seniors who receive $12,500 and graduate students who receive $15,000 agree to teach for at least two years at a high-needs school. Three of the students were recipients of the prestigious scholarship last year as well, and therefore will accept an additional two-year commitment.

“Many of the high schools in my area are considered underprivileged because of the income of the area,” said Murphy (shown in the photo on the upper left) who holds a 4.03 grade point average and is president of the Physics Club. “Now I’ll be able to give back to a school like my own that taught me so much.”

“The scholarship program responds to the critical need for highly qualified science and math educators with strong content knowledge,” said Kerri Freese, the Noyce project coordinator at SUNY Cortland. “The money can help pay for any college-related expenses.”

The grant’s principal investigator is Gregory D. Phelan, associate professor and chair of the SUNY Cortland Chemistry Department.

Morgan Barnett
Morgan Barnett, one of 17 Noyce Scholars announced this year, demonstrates a mathematics problem in the Moffett Center Mathematics Lab.

The scholarship allowed Morgan Barnett, a senior adolescence education: mathematics major from Endicott, N.Y., (shown on the right) to scale back her work shifts at Neubig Hall for the Auxiliary Services Corporation and off-campus at Friendly’s. 

“I’m still working but not nearly as much,” said Barnett, who hopes to teach in an inner-city school. “I joined Math Club and my grades are better because I’ve had a lot of time to focus on my classes. The scholarship has made a big difference to me.”

Beyond the financial incentive, SUNY Cortland’s Noyce Steering Committee is developing a mentor program to connect outstanding teachers in high-need districts with Noyce Scholars. Funds are available to join professional societies and attend conferences and online resources are provided, such as the Noyce Scholars Facebook page, where scholars from around the country can interact.

This year’s undergraduate recipients also include:

  • Carolyn Furlong of Binghamton N.Y., a junior majoring in adolescence education: earth science. She is the treasurer of the Geology Club and was awarded the W. Graham Heaslip Award, which is presented to the junior with the highest grade point average in the Geology Department as well as the James M. Clark Study Abroad Scholarship for studying abroad over summer 2010 in Shanghai, China.
  • Joseph Grace of Freeville, N.Y., a senior majoring in mathematics. He transferred to Cortland from SUNY Buffalo, where he received a B.A in classics and wants to pursue a career teaching high school math while coaching wrestling.
  • Jason Miedema of Port Jervis, N.Y., a junior majoring in adolescence education: mathematics. He transferred to SUNY Cortland from SUNY Orange, where he received an A.S in science. He is pursing a career teaching high school math. 
  • Marjorie Pulver of Chittenango, N.Y., a senior majoring in biology. A member of the interdisciplinary honor society Phi Kappa Phi and the biology honor society Beta Beta Beta who has made the President’s and Dean’s Lists, Pulver is pursing a career in elementary education.
  • Alaina Repetto of Hopewell, N.Y., a junior majoring in adolescence education: earth science. She is president of Colleges Against Cancer, chair of the sixth annual Relay for Life and has made Dean’s List.
  • Amy Sundheim of Hudson, N.Y., a senior majoring in adolescence education: biology. Sundheim transferred to SUNY Cortland from Columbia-Greene Community College where she received an associate’s degree in adolescence education: biology.
  • Danielle Tutino of Pleasant Valley, N.Y., a senior majoring in adolescence education: biology. She is part of the Tau National Honor Society and has made the Dean’s List. Tutino participates in intramural softball and volleyball.
  • Tonya Wilson of Jamesville, N.Y., a senior and non-traditional student who is majoring in adolescence education: mathematics. Wilson is minoring in Spanish and is pursuing a career teaching math in a junior or senior high school.

Four graduate recipients include:

  • Kathleen Boyce of Syracuse, N.Y., who is pursuing a master’s degree in adolescence education: biology. She received a B.S in environmental and forest biology from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Boyce returns to school after five years working with the Wildlife Conservation Society at the Bronx and Brooklyn zoos as an animal keeper, training both sea lions and monkeys.
  • Morgan Nuessell of Gouverneur, N.Y., who is seeking a master’s degree in adolescence education: biology. Nuessell currently holds a full-time teaching position. As part of a plant genome research project funded by the National Science Foundation, she presented research in the 2008 summer student symposium. She is part of the Tau Sigma Honor Society and the biology honor society Beta Beta Beta.
  • Robert Emery of Cortland, N.Y., who is pursuing a master’s degree in adolescence education: mathematics. He has a B.A in mathematics from Bates College. After three years of taking at-risk youth on extended wilderness trips with Adirondack Leadership Expeditions, Emery returned to college to pursue a career working with adolescents in high need or adverse environments.
  • Gauri Kolhatker of Pune, India, currently residing in Ithaca, N.Y., who is pursuing a master’s degree in adolescence education: mathematics. She holds a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Cornell University and returned to college after teaching English in Japan and working as a teaching assistant in the Ithaca School District.

Second year recipients are:

  • Sean Nolan of Brookhaven, N.Y., a senior majoring in adolescence education: mathematics and physics.
  • Karalyn Schoepfer of Bellmore, N.Y., a senior majoring in adolescence education: biology.
  • Jennifer Traxel of Clark Mills, N.Y., a graduate student pursuing a master’s degree in adolescence education: chemistry. She was a senior adolescence education: chemistry major when she received her first Noyce scholarship.

The scholarship is named after the late Robert Noyce, the co-inventor of the integrated circuit or microchip, who co-founded Fairchild Semiconductor in 1957 and Intel in 1968.

For more information about the Noyce Scholarship, visit the website at www.cortland.edu/noyce or contact Freese at (607) 753-2913 or by e-mail at noyce@cortland.edu.