Ecosystem Biologists are ecologists who study the ways that elements and compounds move through the air, water, and soil. They ask questions like “What causes acid rain? How does it affect forests?” and “How does nitrogen flow through rivers?” Earth System Scientist Noel Gurwick tracks different forms of nitrogen released by fertilizers used on fields as they move through the soil, water, and air. He also studies microbes and the roots of plants growing near springs and rivers.
Earth System Scientist “I am somebody who enjoys spending time tramping around in the woods,” says Ecosystem Biologist Noel Gurwick, an earth system scientist. Perhaps that’s part of the reason he’s interested in protec ting the environment from damage done by human activity. In the late 18th (1700s) and early 19th (1800s) centuries, the industrial revolution brought great changes to the economy. People used metal and new sources of energy, such as coal, steam, and petroleum to build machines and power cars and trains. They organized themselves and those machines into factories that allowed them to produce clothing and goods that… Learn more
An update from M4S Founder Justine Henning What fun it has been to introduce my own math students to Math4Science this semester! This autumn, I have had the good fortune to fill in for a teacher on parental leave from Urban Academy Laboratory High School, an alternative public school in New York City. Aside from experiencing first-hand the challenges of teaching math in the classroom, I get to be part of a vibrant, supportive community of budding adults from all over NYC, students from all walks of life and family backgrounds. The deep, broad diversity of the student body and… Learn more
It was an exciting summer at Math4Science! We have focused the first years of our existence building our Explore Science pages to introduce children to a wide array of STEM professionals. We’ve also designed a math curriculum that combines master teaching techniques with what we’ve been learning from the scientists we profile and begun testing it in New York City-area schools, with exciting results. This summer we turned our attention to begin building Explore Math, our K-12th grade math units, out of our knowledge of how to teach math effectively while incorporating information about featured STEM professionals in every problem students solve. Creating this curriculum will require hours and hours of… Learn more
Physical Chemist “Take a deep breath.” Maybe a doctor, a yoga teacher, or someone wanting to help you in some way has suggested this to you. It’s good advice: breathing keeps us alive and gives us energy. Throughout our lives, our bodies engage in respiration, a process that gives us the energy we need to do everything from playing basketball, baseball, or soccer to doing homework for school to keeping our bodies themselves running well. You could say that respiration begins with breathing in oxygen, which our lungs pass on to our blood. The blood brings oxygen all over… Learn more
Physical Chemist Peter O’Donnell Offenhartz spends his summers on a small island off the coast of Maine. Knowing that he’s a scientist and creative problem-solver, people there come to him with requests that run from “How can I improve my telephone service?” to “Why does my boat battery keep failing?” Read on to find out how Offenhartz uses his knowledge of chemistry and physics to help his neighbors. “I think I always knew I was going to make my living in science,” says Offenhartz, who grew up in Westchester, outside of New York City. His parents “wanted me to be… Learn more
Physical chemists study energy, molecular structures, and other behaviors and characteristics of matter on a tiny scale. Their work has many applications, from medical technology to energy storage, air conditioning, refrigeration, and heat. “Physical chemistry is a wonderful sort of union of physics and chemistry,” says Physical Chemist Barbara Hopf Offenhartz. She studied the structure and behavior of molecules of vitamin B12 and hemoglobin, both of which play key roles in respiration (the system that turns oxygen and sugar into the energy that helps your body stay healthy). The work Offenhartz did helped produce today’s sophisticated instruments for using light… Learn more
Chemists are architects on a tiny scale. They design and build molecules, structures composed of atoms. By precisely combining chemicals and sometimes using catalysts, molecules that help a chemical reaction happen more quickly, chemists create materials suited to all sorts of different uses, from gasoline to carbon fiber to lifesaving medicines. They also investigate the molecular structure of different types of already-existing matter. Biochemist and Cancer Researcher Eugene DeSombre discovered how different breast cancers react to estrogen and developed a test for that, helping doctors figure out how to treat different cancer patients. Physical Chemist Barbara Hopf Offenhartz studied the… Learn more
Some people who study science, computer technology, engineering, or math in college and beyond use their degrees in the arts. Photographer David Goldes, trained as a molecular geneticist at Harvard, majored in biology and chemistry at the Buffalo campus of the State University of New York. He went on to photograph science-informed activity, from the behavior of magnetized pins to thousands of volts of electricity passing through a graphite circuit. Mechanical Engineer Julia Lintern improves cars and planes and teaches programming. She also designs puppets and clothing.
Atmospheric chemists like this Energy Economist study the chemistry of Earth’s atmosphere, the gases that surround our planet. While in graduate school at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he studied fluid dynamics and chemical modeling, looking at the ways aerosols (tiny particles in air and mist) produced by human industry as well as natural processes affect clouds. [Interested in clouds? Check out the work Physicist Nicholas Carrera did at the University of Chicago’s Cloud Physics Laboratory.]