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CiC program, Keasling, win Chancellor's Public Service Awards

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Community Resources for Science

April 2009

The Community in the Classroom program, fostered by chemistry professor Bob Bergman, has won a 2009 Chancellor's Public Service Award for Campus-Community Programs. Jay Keasling, the Hubbard Howe Jr. Distinguished Professor of Biochemical Engineering, has won the Research in the Public Interest Award

Each year, the Chancellor recognizes students, staff, faculty and community partnerships that embody UC Berkeley's tradition of public service. The award is sponsored by the campus Cal Corps Public Service Center.

Community in the Classroom is a program of Community Resources for Science (CRS), a Berkeley group that encourages scientists to volunteer in local schools. CRS encourages educators to work together to "excite all children about learning through the scientific exploration of the world around them."

CRS was founded in 1997 by Nicki Norman and Anne Jennings to overcome barriers that elementary teachers face in teaching science and to promote awareness of the science resources in the Bay Area.

At UC Berkeley, the Community in the Classroom program was started by Bergman, but it quickly took on a life of its own. Bergman continues to help with the program and sits on the board of CRS.

Roughly 120 grad students participate from many different Berkeley departments. CRS trains the grad students in state standards for science education, but the students plan their own presentations. To share knowledge and maintain institutional memory, teams of grad students within a research group work together and designate a leader.

Stavroula Hatzios is a postdoc in the research group of chemistry professor Carolyn Bertozzi and the CiC team leader for the group. She has been actively involved in science outreach programs since high school and views CIC as a means of continuing her volunteer work at Berkeley.

"CiC gives graduate students the opportunity to inject hands-on science into local public schools in a manner that is compatible with their busy schedules," she says."Volunteering with CIC is a powerful way to support science education and inspire young kids while at the same time having fun with fellow grad students."

For Andy Tsai, the CiC team leader in the Bergman group, "Teaching elementary students is exciting. There is nothing quite like engaging a class and watching as the pieces fall into place," he says.

Jay Keasling
Jay Keasling

Keasling, a synthetic biologist who holds a joint appointment in the department of Bioengineering, has won numerous awards for his efforts to create an inexpensive way to produce the anti-malarial drug artemisinin and for his biofuel research.

Working with the Institute for One World Health, Keasling helped secure a $42.6 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to create the first nonprofit pharmaceutical company in the United States. The goal is to develop a powerful new approach to create and market inexpensive artemisinin-based drugs to fight malaria, which kills more than a million children each year.

He is currently working to apply synthetic biology to the creation of efficient, cellulose-based biofuels to find an alternative to the world's dependence on fossil fuel. He was one of Esquire magazine's 75 most influential people of the 21st century and Discover magazine named Keasling its 2006 Scientist of the Year.

Keasling is also the Director of the Physical Biosciences Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the CEO of the Department of Energy's Joint BioEnergy Institute. He recently made a guest appearance on the Colbert Report, a popular Comedy Central news magazine television show.

The Chancellor's Public Service Awards were presented at 4:00 p.m. on April 24 in the Sibley Auditorium by the Cal Corps Public Service Center.

Cal Corps was founded in 1967 as the Community Projects Office by a coalition of student groups engaged in community service projects. Eventually, Cal Corps became a UC Berkeley department within the office of Student Activities and Services. Over the past several years, Cal Corps has continued to grow and now includes a dedicated staff position focused on student service in K-12 educational outreach.

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