CSM Professors Give Presentations at Governor’s STEM Scholars Winter Conference

Rowan University hosted the Governor’s STEM Scholars Winter Conference on December 9th. The conference included several panelists and speakers that focused on academic careers in STEM. CSM professors Dr. Phil La Porta and Dr. Andrea Lobo gave presentations that were well received.

​Developed in 2013, the​ ​goal​ of the Governor’s STEM Scholars program​ ​is​ ​to​ ​give​ ​promising​ ​STEM​ ​students​ ​a​ ​thorough introduction​ ​to​ ​the​ ​state’s​ ​STEM​ ​economy​ ​through​ ​conferences,​ ​field​ ​trips,​ ​and​ ​research​ ​opportunities. “At​ ​the​ ​heart​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Governor’s​ ​STEM​ ​Scholars​ ​program​ ​is​ ​its​ ​efforts​ ​to​ ​leverage​ ​the​ ​resources​ ​of​ ​its STEM​ ​professionals​ ​and​ ​institutions,” commented David Hodges, Director of the Governor’s STEM Scholars.

La Porta, a physics instructor, used his unique perspective as a magician to help inspire the students to improve their communication skills through the use of magic principles. “I chose this topic since, no matter what STEM field these young minds find themselves toiling in, they will need to be good communicators in order to help others understand the importance of their work,” said La Porta. He gave a 30-minute presentation to two groups of students. La Porta performed, lectured, and answered questions during and after the performance.

“Dr.​ ​​La Porta​​ ​delivered​ ​an​ ​exceptional​ ​presentation​ ​that​ ​engaged​ ​our​ ​students​ ​in​ ​a​ ​unique​ ​and​ ​humorous​ ​way​ ​that clearly​ ​won​ ​them​ ​over,” explained Hodges. “​He​ ​also​ ​devoted​ ​time​ ​after​ ​the​ ​class​ ​to​ ​talk​ ​to​ ​students. After​ ​the​ ​conference​ ​ended, many​ ​students​ ​told​ ​me​ ​how​ ​much​ ​they​ ​learned​ ​from​ ​him​ ​and​ ​how​ ​they​ ​appreciated​ ​the​ ​time​ ​he​ ​took​ ​to speak​ ​with​ ​them​ ​on​ ​a​ ​one-on-one​ ​basis.”

Lobo, a computer science professor, was part of a panel of STEM experts that answered several questions about what it’s like being a STEM professional in academia. She also spoke about the benefits to working in academia rather than the public or private sectors and what STEM education is like at Rowan. Finally, she gave the participants information on the skills needed to be successful in a STEM major and career.

"I thought her presence on the panel was exceptional and that the scholars learned a lot,” stated Hodges. “It was no exaggeration on my part when I told the panel that it was one of the best we've ever had."