Duquesne Science Professor Receives Presidential Award

Posted on June 27, 2018

Duquesne professor Dr. John Pollock has received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring to honor his career in educating students from universities to grade schools.

Dr. John Pollock

Dr. John Pollock

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced that Pollock, along with 27 individuals and 14 organizations, has been honored with presidential awards for their excellence in teaching or mentoring in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. The award is the highest honor bestowed upon mentors who work to expand STEM talent, according to NSF.

The awards committee noted Pollock’s 36-year career in teaching university courses in neuroscience and biology, conducting research while mentoring high school and college students, and his work in developing educational and multimedia resources for school children, including Emmy® Award winning educational apps.

“I’m honored to be selected for the presidential award,” said Pollock, biological sciences professor in the Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences (BSNES). “More than ever, science is playing an increasingly important role in solving societal problems. It’s vital that we increase access to STEM education for all children so future generations can benefit from advances in health care and technology, to name just two areas. We need all hands on deck.”

Pollock has mentored more than 150 students, with about 25 percent from ethnic or racial groups who are underrepresented in STEM fields. Virtually all of his mentees have gone to pursue advanced degrees with many working in academia, industry and health care.

In the community, he helped to start science summer camps for children from underserved areas, reads with 4- and 5-year-old children weekly, and serves museums in Pittsburgh and beyond. With pre-college scholars, undergraduate students and post-graduate student mentees, Pollock also has produced a wide range of educational resources, including museum and traveling exhibits and interactive software and video games for the classroom.

To sustain his basic science research scholars, he has kept his laboratory continuously funded since the late 1980s with support from the NSF, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, among others sources.  His STEM education research and development efforts have been continuously funded since 2000, with significant assistance from the NIH Science Education Partnership Award, NSF, U.S. Department of Education and foundation support.

“John Pollock goes above and beyond to educate students about science and technology,” said Dr. Philip Reeder, dean of BSNES. “Through his work in the classroom, research labs and community, he has positively impacted thousands of students’ lives. I’m thrilled to see John receive this well-deserved honor.”

In addition to his teaching position, Pollock is co-director of Duquesne’s Chronic Pain Research Consortium and director of the Partnership in Education, a STEM education and health literacy research group that has developed apps on topics including why humans need sleep, sports-related concussions and health literacy for pediatric transplant patients.

During a visit to the nation’s capital, Pollock received a presidential citation at an awards ceremony and participated in discussions on STEM and STEM education priorities at the White House State-Federal STEM Summit, led by OSTP and NSF. He will also receive $10,000 from NSF, which manages the award program on behalf of the White House.

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