2023 Gold Medal is awarded to
2022 Gold Medal is awarded to Dr. Ellen Granger of the Department of Biological Sciences, Florida State University. She is the Director of the Office of STEM Teaching Activities and Co-Director of FSU Teach. Dr. Granger is recognized as a national leader in the field of science education and was named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) for “distinguished contribution, service, and leadership in advancing knowledge and classroom practices in science education.”
The 2021 award has been awarded to Mr. Carlos Villa, K-12 Education Director at the Center for Integrating Research & Learning at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory. Selection of Carlos Villa created an opportunity to honor one of the most recognized science educators in our community; Carlos clearly exemplifies all of the criteria that this award was created to recognize, His work with the National MagLab has touched the lives of almost every child in Leon and surrounding counties. He can be seen in classrooms, community events representing the MagLab, and is the face of the MagLab summer camp program. His science education efforts are valued on a national stage as well. In 2018, Carlos was recognized for his efforts by the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), as their 2018 Distinguished Informal Science Educator. Carlos reaches young adults across the globe with science education videos on the MagLab’s website and YouTube channel and has been featured on national podcasts like NPR’s Short Wave. In the summer of 2020, when COVID-19 shut down many camps, Carlos was instrumental in the creation of the MagLab’s virtual 10-week Summer Exploration Series (SES) program offered to K-12 students in Tallahassee and across the nation. The goal of the program was to increase youth’s interest in STEM and knowledge of STEM careers relevant to MagLab specific STEM disciplines, including materials science, biomedical and mechanical engineering, chemistry, biochemistry, and physics. Carlos’ connections with scientists and engineers at the MagLab including many undergraduate and graduate students at both FSU and FAMU, help to connect the science of the MagLab to K-12 students His work connecting MagLab research and STEM concepts to K-12 students and teachers makes him a crucial part of Tallahassee’s science literacy efforts.
The 2020 Gold Medal has been awarded to Dr. Susan Blessing, Professor, Department of Physics at Florida State University. Dr. Blessing’s research interests include the search for new phenomena in proton-antiproton collisions and electroweak physics. However, her passions have been in undergraduate education in physics and support of women in underrepresented physical sciences. She led the FSU Physics Department in creating an undergraduate physics curriculum that has been cited as one of five national models by a task force on undergraduate education assembled by the American Physical Society; Blessing was elected an American Physical Society Fellow through the society’s Forum on Education, which advocates for physics education. Additional accolades include establishing the FSU Office of National Fellowships, which has helped FSU’s undergraduates compete successfully for high profile national awards, including three Rhodes Scholarships. She serves as director of Women in Math, Science and Engineering, better known as WIMSE. WIMSE is a living-learning community (LLC) at FSU committed to the success of women in the fields of science, engineering and mathematics. Blessing coordinates a robust community of peers and mentors aimed at increasing the retention of young women in STEM fields by providing support, encouraging participation and developing necessary skills. She has become the university’s leading advocate for women in the computing, engineering and physics fields in which women are most strongly underrepresented.
Jake is president of STEMout, a student organization created and managed by high school students. STEMout offers science outreach and conducts STEM activities with Title 1 middle school from Nims MS, and elementary school students from Pineview ES. The organization is working to recruit other high schools to develop their own STEMout club and to reach out to more middle and elementary schools to build a network of student mentors throughout the Leon County Community. STEMout works closely with MagLab and Mr. Carlos Villa and is now partnering with TSS.
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Mei Maddox is a 4th year Computer Science student at New College of Florida. Mei spent her high school years extensively engaged in Robotics and STEM promotion. She now focuses on software design and is completing her Thesis project, developing an Artificial Intelligence which can choreograph contemporary dance, for her baccalaureate defense in the Spring.
Adrienne earned her BA in Chemistry from Lincoln University and PhD in Pharmacology and Toxicology from Florida A&M University. She presently serves as an Assistant Dean/Director at Florida State University. In her professional career she has served as a Science Specialist and STEM Coordinator for the Florida Department of Education and STEM Center Director at Tallahassee Community College. She is passionate about STEM education especially diversity in STEM in underserved communities and is involved in numerous STEM outreach projects throughout the country that engage K-12 and undergraduate students in engagement and exposure to STEM professionals and STEM careers.
“I have been given this mountain to show others it can be moved” – author unknown
Martin is a PhD candidate studying Science Education; he also has Master’s degrees in Philosophy of Education and History and Philosophy of Science. As an educator, he is focused on environmental, ecological health; human rights; equity; and social justice. Martin’s work is focused on helping teachers and students learn science through engaging in environmental preservation and restoration, while emphasizing their relationship to human rights.
Al Hall was a founding member of the Tallahassee Scientific Society along with Penny Gilmer. His interest in establishing this community organization grew out of his and his wife’s volunteer experience as judges in local school science fairs and was instrumental in the developing the outreach efforts of TSS. He established a link to Leon County Public Schools to help promote science enrichment in disadvantaged neighborhoods. Al moved to Tallahassee from Kingston, Jamaica, in 1985 where he had previously worked as an electrical engineer from 1960 to 1984, and served as director of the Scientific Research Council in the Ministry of Science, Technology and the Environment. He continued his career in electrical engineering for the City of Tallahassee. Al served as the first president of TSS and continued to serve on the Board of Directors for TSS until his untimely death in 2008.
Penny Gilmer was a beloved member of the Tallahassee science community as well as an FSU award-winning chemistry faculty member. As a founding member of TSS, she helped to establish our premiere science series, Horizons. She became the first woman tenure-track professor for the Florida State University Chemistry Department in 1977. Over her years of teaching and service at the university and community at large, she put her hand in many pots spending many of her efforts advocating for policies and practices that would improve conditions in society for women and minorities. After decades doing research in biochemistry, she dedicated herself to a long-held interest—improving science education—earning a second doctorate and then directed her efforts to teach science teachers better methods and involve them in local scientific research. She retired from FSU in 2010 as the Nancy Marcus Emerita Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry and passed away too early in 2019.
Sir Harry Kroto was a world-class chemist, teacher, mentor, friend and sometimes graphic designer who joined the Florida State University faculty in 2004, capping off a brilliant career that included the 1996 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the discovery of the Buckminsterfullerene molecule. The discovery of Buckminsterfullerene, otherwise known as buckyballs, opened up a new world of chemistry that included the development of new materials such as buckypaper, a feather-light material that is being tested in electronics, energy, medicine, space and transportation. Though it is light, it is also remarkably strong. The aviation industry, for example, projects that it could replace metal shielding in the Boeing 787, currently made up of 60 miles of cable. English-born to German immigrants, he developed an early interest in both chemistry and physics and ultimately received his doctorate in molecular spectroscopy from University of Sheffield. After 20 years of teaching and research at the University of Sussex and the 1985 discovery of buckyballs, his research shifted from spectroscopy to probe the consequences and possibilities associated with this new molecule. Then in 2004, he accepted the position of Francis Eppes Professor of Chemistry at FSU, where he continued his work on buckyballs where he mentored many students and younger faculty. In addition to his research agenda, he was fiercely dedicated to expanding educational opportunities. In 1995, he set up the Vega Science Trust, a British educational charity to create high quality science programming that included interviews with Nobel laureates, plus teaching resources for television and the Internet. At Florida State, he spearheaded the development of GEOSET, short for Global Educational Outreach for Science, Engineering and Technology. GEOSET is a growing online cache of video teaching modules that are available for free. He also developed several unique programs for Florida State, hosting an annual “Opening Minds” lecture series in the fall semester to help spur creativity and scientific experimentation within the university and surrounding community.
Barry has a B.S. and Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Florida, specializing in Analytical Chemistry. He retired from the Division of Food Safety of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in 2012, and was initially hired to install the first GCMS for the Chemical Residue Bureau. While working at FDACS, he also earned a Certified Public Manager certificate. He has served at several positions in TSS, and also held several positions in the Tallahassee Astronomical Society (TAS) as well. He is interested in many areas of science and technology, and will continue to promote increasing knowledge and acceptance of science by the general public.
Barry, Environmental Manager & Chemist, Retired
“Make no judgments where you have no compassion.” –Anne McCaffrey, writer (1 Apr 1926-2011)
Nobel Prize winner Paul A.M. Dirac is known as the father of modern physics. Dirac rose to prominence rapidly after earning his doctorate in quantum mechanics from St. John’s College at Cambridge in 1926. In 1933, he won the Nobel Prize in physics with Erwin Schrodinger for “the discovery of new productive forms of atomic theory.” As the Nobel Lecture describes, Dirac’s famous wave equation “introduced special relativity into Schrodinger’s equation.” The Nobel statement continues, “taking into account the fact that, mathematically speaking, relativity theory and quantum theory are not only distinct from each other, but also oppose each other, Dirac’s work could be considered a fruitful reconciliation between the two theories.” After retiring from his position at Cambridge in 1969, Dirac accepted an appointment at Florida State in 1972, where he continued active research, teaching and travel until his death in October 1984. Dirac’s legacy lives on as students and faculty work in the Dirac Science Library and pass by his statue on campus. Despite being world-renowned for his work in physics, Dirac led a “rather opaque life,” according to Graham Farmelo, author of “The Strangest Man: The Hidden Life of Paul Dirac.” This book is recommended for those interested in learning more behind the man associated with the new field of modern physics.
Carol, as a TSS board member is continuing her life-long interest in science and science education. After receiving her BS in Chemistry from Youngstown State University and MS from Florida State University in Science Education, She taught chemistry for 35 years, first at Godby High School and then Tallahassee Community College (TCC). At TCC, she also served as science program chair and was an active participant in TCC’s science student mentor program (STEM Stars).
The Tallahassee Scientific Society announces the award of their 2019 Gold Medal to Dr. Laura Greene, Chief Scientist at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory. The Society’s Gold Medal, established in 2004, is bestowed annually on a scientist or scholar selected from the Tallahassee community whose career achievements in science or mathematics, and contributions to science education and outreach, are deemed exemplary.
In addition to her role as chief scientist at the National MagLab, a user facility funded by the National Science Foundation and State of Florida, Greene is the Francis Eppes Professor of Physics at Florida State University. Her research in experimental condensed matter physics with a focus on quantum materials has led to over 200 co-authored publications and more than 600 invited and plenary talks.
As the 2017 president of the American Physical Society (APS), Laura’s theme was science diplomacy and human rights. She serves on the Board of Directors of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and is a vice president of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics. A champion for diversity, she works with teams that promote the success of women and young scientists, particularly in developing countries. She plays many leadership advisory roles for funding agencies and institutions, and recently was a co-chair of the National Academy’s consensus report: “Frontiers of Materials Research: A Decadal Survey.”
Laura is an active member of the US National Academy of Science, and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Institute of Physics (UK), the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the APS. Her recognitions include a Guggenheim fellowship, the Lawrence Award for Materials Research, and the Maria Goeppert-Mayer Award. This fall, she received the APS Five Sigma Physicist Award for her work in science advocacy.
The Society invites the public to the Gold Medal ceremony and a free public lecture by Dr. Greene at 7 pm on Tuesday, November 12, at the Challenger Learning Center, 200 South Duval Street, Tallahassee, FL 32301. Dr. Greene’s presentation will be titled, “The Dark Energy of Quantum Materials”. Prior to the ceremony, the Society will host a reception and cash bar beginning at 6 pm.
Mabry specializes in earth science and promoting scientific literacy. She earned her Ph.D. in Geological Sciences from FSU, with her research at the MagLab, while serving as a NSF GK12 Fellow, working in public school classrooms. Mabry has also enjoyed working at the Florida Geological Survey, the Florida Center for STEM at FSU, and teaching earth science for seven years at TCC.
Yvonne worked in the Public Health Laboratory in Jacksonville and then as Bureau Chief in the Food Safety Laboratory at the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. After retirement from the State of Florida, a move to Denver, she is now back to Tallahassee. Yvonne works with the Association of Public Health Laboratories and the Association of Food and Drug Officials. She has a BS Biology from FSU and MS Community Health from UNF.
Tangy is a cardiac physiologist and Instructor in the sciences at Florida A&M University and Tallahassee Community College. One of her life goals is to offer an academic advantage to Middle and High Schoolers, and as a result she is the founder of the non-profit organization, Skolier Institute Summer Camp, Inc. She prides herself in mentoring, educating, and propelling scholars to higher levels. She enjoys reading and engaging outdoor activities with family.
Bill is a retired invertebrate biologist. He studied parasitology and genetics at the Florida State University, where his graduate studies focused on the genetics of digenetic trematodes. After graduating he spent 32 years as a marine fisheries manager with the state of Florida and federal fishery management councils. He has two grown children and has resided in Tallahassee since 1970. His interests include world history, paleontology, evolution, music, cycling, and kayaking.
Kerry brings a background of science teaching, training, research, and community outreach to the Board of Tallahassee Scientific Society. She presently teaches biology at Thomas University and serves on the Tallahassee Science Festival Board. In her professional career, she has worked to communicate complex concepts in science to a diverse range of students, from K-12 through seniors.
Chris earned a degree in Meteorology from FSU in 1995 and began teaching Physics, Physical, and Earth/Space Science at Godby High School, moving to Chiles High School in 2000. In 2008, Chris joined a team creating science assessments for Florida, then becoming the Mathematics and Science Coordinator while also overseeing the development of Florida’s state-wide Mathematics and Science assessments. Chris is the Instructional Certification Specialist for Leon County Schools and oversees the Beginning Teacher Program.
Tony is a Professor Emeritus of Computer Science from Southeast Missouri State University and retired Professor of Chemistry from Stephan F. Austin State University (TX). He is a physical / computational chemist who earned his B.S. in chemistry and mathematics from Marquette University and Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the Pennsylvania State University.
George taught middle and high school in Louisville, Ky before becoming a faculty member in science education at FSU in 1967 where he retired with the rank of Professor Emeritus in 2001. His work, in addition to teaching, included curriculum development that evolved from print materials to multimedia. His projects have been used broadly in the US and internationally.
Dana served for 30 years in the Florida Park Service, mostly as the state-wide chief biologist. Dana earned an MS in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from FSU. He is an authority on the limpkin, the snail-eating wading bird, about which he authored several scientific accounts. Dana has been active on boards and as an officer for Florida Audubon Society, Apalachee Audubon Society, Birdsong Nature Center, and the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge Association.