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ISB Honors Researchers Who Give Back to STEM Education

Drs. Serdar Turkarslan and Christian Diener

Dr. Serdar Turkarslan, left, and Dr. Christian Diener were recognized for their important contributions to STEM education.

ISB Education’s mission is to ensure quality STEM education is a reality for every student. The team carries this out by working with every part of the education system – teachers, administrators, students, and importantly, scientists and other STEM professionals. ISB’s own scientists selflessly share their time and expertise to make this mission a reality.

Since 2019, we have recognized STEM professionals at ISB with awards for their partnership and contributions to ISB Education.

The JoAnn Chrisman Award for Distinguished Service to STEM Education is given to ISB scientists who have a long track record of devoting their time and efforts to improving STEM education, and the Dr. Christine Schaeffer Award for Exemplary Service to STEM Education is presented to early-career researchers who have taken up the mantle.

“STEM professionals are a crucial component of our efforts. Students and educators find the stories and experiences of real-world scientists inspirational,” said Claudia Ludwig, who co-leads ISB Education. “What is truly unique about our awardees is their behind-the-scenes commitment to STEM education in all facets of the system.”

This year, two deserving scientists were bestowed the honors. Dr. Serdar Turkarslan is the recipient of the JoAnn Chrisman Award for Distinguished Service to STEM Education, and Dr. Christian Diener was awarded the Dr. Christine Schaeffer Award for Exemplary Service to STEM Education.

The researchers discussed their recognitions and why giving back is so important to them:

Serdar Turkarslan

What does receiving the JoAnn Chrisman Award for Distinguished Service to STEM Education mean to you?

“Throughout my career, I was mentored and guided by countless educators whose support helped me to recognize and achieve my full potential. Now, I seek to provide the same help to students who are passionate about science. That’s why receiving this award is great recognition for me that I am on the right path and it encourages me to go beyond and above.”

What do you find rewarding about working with educators and students? 

“Working together with educators and students challenges me to explore and adopt different perspectives on teaching and pushes me out of my comfort zone. Especially seeing students’ or teachers’ faces lit up with excitement when we work together and solve a complex problem is very rewarding.”

Christian Diener

What does receiving the Dr. Christine Schaeffer Award for Exemplary Service to STEM Education mean to you?

“More than an award specifically for me, I see it as a testament to the amazing projects and collaborations the ISB Education program has created. Thus, the award will serve as a reminder for what I learned being part of the ISB Education efforts and will motivate me to continue engaging with education efforts wherever my career may take me.”

What do you find rewarding about working with educators and students?

“Science is meant to serve the public needs to include everybody. Working with educators and students is one of the most direct ways to reach groups that have been traditionally excluded from academic and scientific careers. Having students show interest and excitement for our work has been incredibly rewarding and a huge motivational boost for our work.”

For more about the wide ranging work of ISB Education, take a look at the short animated video below, and learn more at isbscience.org/education.

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