Bob Chen ~ Urban Oceanographer

WISP classroom

Education and Outreach for
Fame and Fortune

Why make the effort to be engaged in Education and Outreach? The rewards are numerous and vary widely, depending on one's career stage. Graduate students get exposed to educators in action, which may inspire some of them to become teachers themselves, a real plus for the STEM pipeline. They may also bring their inspiration back to their professors, and in turn influence them to become more involved in outreach.

Junior faculty can improve their teaching skills and add E&O presentations and publications to their tenure portfolio. In Bob's case, his outreach work helped him get promoted to full professor. Senior scientists can have a real impact at the district level, can affect change in values on a university-wide scale, can attract additional funding, and can engage other faculty in collaborations which will in turn impact their careers as well.

Working in education and outreach can help fund graduate students, can fund a lab, can lead to the development of large multi-disciplinary centers. In Bob's case, this work brought him the UMass President's Award, which for him was "an example of your work in education getting rewards at a higher level than your research might".

Working with an established program such as COSEE offers a larger impact than any one scientist can have on their own. COSEE offers a model, a framework, and ongoing support to work over the course of a year, offering engagement in excellent programs that have significant impact and include follow-up and evaluation, with the additional possibility of publication and presentation opportunities. "Being able to illustrate the potential advantages of participating helped convince some of the scientists to come on board," says Bob, "rather than a plan developed with no experience and without a model."

Engaging in education and outreach also provides a framework for addressing broader impacts. "We helped write, helped frame, helped develop some of the broader impacts of [OSEI participants] research proposals," says Dr. Bob Chen. "They had a teacher they could talk to about those experiences, they could talk about successful experiences and potential publications that we had, and then they could formulate a realistic and practical plan in their broader impacts rather than based on no experiences or no models."

Bernie Gardner
Dr. Bernie Gardner, Ph.D., Research Associate and Adjunct Associate Professor
Being engaged in education and outreach affects every part of your work
Robyn Hannigan
Robyn Hannigan, Ph.D., Department Chair
Students have been convincing advocates for getting involved in outreach