NOAA promotes STEM among minorities


The new pharmacy building was filled to capacity with faculty, students and representatives on Monday for environmental purposes discussing a new grant.


Florida A&M is hosting a national conference sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The sixth annual educational partnership program’s education and science forum, “Developing STEM Talent: Increasing Innovation and National Competitiveness,” brought the NOAA and FAMU’s NOAA Environmental Cooperative Science Center together for the three-day conference.


The Florida House of Representatives from District 9 and Tallahassee Community College  professor Michelle Vasilinda stressed the importance of energy security and youth participation.


“This is a new era where we need to plan a STEM education and a purpose to not only look at national security and environmental protection, but also energy security. These are things that are absolutely imperative to our country and our state, and these are things that young people are learning in STEM,” Vasilinda said.


Vasilinda has taught at TCC for 25 years, which helps her understand effective ways to achieve student involvement. 


“One thing I know about young people is that if you give them a purpose, and tell them you need them, they will answer your call,” said Vasilinda. “And the most important thing you can do right now in this country, in this state, is to make sure that young people know that we need them as educators in STEM, as engineers, as experts, as consultants.”


Mayor John Marks shared his feelings on how proud he was of the university and its accomplishment. FAMU’s School of the Environment received nearly $15 million from NOAA, making it the largest single grant awarded in the history of the university.  


“It is always a pleasure for me to recognize this wonderful achievement for this university and for the city of Tallahassee,” Marks said. “It is important that the city of Tallahassee stay committed to the research of environmental safety and to sustain. We must place an increased emphasis on the environment. If we work together, we can achieve great results.”


Senior Science Advisor to the NOAA Administrator and keynote speaker Dr. Paul Sandifer said communication plays a major role. 


 “As scientists, we also must learn how to be bilingual, and I’m not talking about picking up a new language,” Sandifer said. “I’m talking about converting and speaking the language we spoke as younger people before we learned scientific jargon, and learn to speak to your colleagues with a short hand. Speak plain English.”


Jasmine Turner, a senior cardiopulmonary science student, said the grant could help get the institute ahead in STEM.


“This conference pointed out a bigger picture for me,” Turner said. “The grant and program can help get the university ahead in different subjects as that could lead to us helping other universities and schools.”


Sandifer was pleased with the amount of students and young adults who showed up to the event and challenges them to do more than research.


“Can you communicate why you do what you do? Not just the curiosity part, but does it have the potential to lead to a society?” asked Sandifer.