Dr. Sara Yeo to serve as Director of the University of Utah STEM Ambassador Program (STEMAP)
Dr. Sara Yeo, associate professor in the Department of Communication, has been appointed to Director of the University of Utah's STEM Ambassador Program (STEMAP). She will be taking over in this role from Dr. Nalini Nadkarni (Professor Emerita, Biology, University of Utah) as Faculty Director and will be listed as the PI on the program's National Science Foundation Award. Dr. Yeo's term as director will begin July 1, 2022.
The STEM Ambassador Program (STEMAP) was created and has been sustained by Dr. Nalini Nadkarni (Professor Emerita, School of Biological Sciences). The program trains scientists to engage public groups who are scientifically underserved, and places these engagement events where publics live, work, gather, and recreate. Participating scientists, known as STEM Ambassadors, link their research, personal interests, experiences, and desired social impacts to a specific community focal group (Nadkarni et al., 2019; Weber et al., 2021). Focal groups are selected by having shared interests, hobbies, circumstances, or experiences that resonate with STEM Ambassadors.
Since 2016, this program has been funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) with two awards ($2.4 million). The program has also received a commitment of up to $122,000 from the Office of the Vice President for Research (VPR). STEMAP’s aim is to strengthen connections between science and society, with a focus on public groups who typically do not or cannot visit traditional education venues. Further, it reinforces the connections of science to everyday life and opens portals for scientists to gain innovative ideas and perspectives from the community. STEM Ambassadors are trained as an interdisciplinary cohort, typically over the course of a semester, though the modular and flexible nature of STEMAP workshops allows for modifications to the training timeline.