QEM/MSE Awards

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  Feb. 20, 2006

Margie Yu
Public Affairs Specialist 
(323) 343-3047



Cal State L.A. 
Office of Public Affairs 
(323) 343-3050 
Fax: (323) 343-6405

For immediate release:
Two Cal State L.A. Biology Professors
to be Honored at QEM/MSE Conference

California State University, Los Angeles biology professors Robert Desharnais and Carlos Robles will be honored by The Quality Education for Minorities in Mathematics, Science and Engineering (QEM/MSE) Network at a special awards ceremony during the Fifteenth QEM/MSE Network Conference in Washington, DC, Feb. 24-25, 2006.

Professor Desharnais will be presented the 2006 Richard Nicholson Award for Excellence in Science Teaching. The Nicholson Award is given to an individual who has high standards and expectations for all students, demonstrates effective use of innovative, hands-on instructional techniques in the classroom, has successfully integrated technology into the classroom, has demonstrated leadership and effectiveness as a teacher, and is a faculty member who seeks to meet the highest professional and curriculum standards through regular participation in professional development activities.

Professor Robles will be presented the 2006 MSE Giants in Science Award. Each of the QEM/MSE Network’s Giants in Science Award recipients has had a significant impact on students and their participation in MSE fields, serving as outstanding mentors, teachers and researchers. Since 1994, the QEM/MSE Network has honored individuals with distinguished research, teaching and service records, and who have made outstanding contributions in a range of MSE disciplines and on MSE-related public policy.

2006 Richard Nicholson Award for Excellence in Science Teaching:
Robert Desharnais—a recipient of Cal State L.A.’s 1998-99 Outstanding Professor Award—has taught introductory to graduate level courses, which are consistently evaluated at the highest levels by his students. He has also mentored numerous high school, university undergraduate and master’s students, leading them to successful careers in the sciences.

Over the years, Desharnais has been awarded more than 15 grants totaling more than $4 million. In 1992, he received a National Science Foundation grant for a project to improve the way science is taught to introductory students. The result was groundbreaking “virtual courseware” that began with the highly-praised Virtual FlyLab, a Cal State L.A. Web site that was accessed more than 50 million times from high schools and colleges around the nation and the world. This courseware served as a model for www.BiologyLabsOnLine.com, a commercial web site established by the CSU and academic publisher Addison-Wesley-Longman, in which Desharnais’ online genetics education application is featured. Other award-winning instructional Web applications developed by Desharnais, along with CSULA creative team, include Gobal Warming, Earthquake, Virtual Dating (about geologic time--not a way to find “that special someone,” explains the introduction), and Virtual River, all accessible at www.ScienceCourseware.com.

Desharnais came to the Cal State L.A. Department of Biological Sciences in 1988 from Rockefeller University in New York, where he held a post-doctoral position. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Rhode Island and was a post-doctoral fellow at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia.

2006 MSE Giants in Science Award:
Carlos Robles, a marine community ecologist, is the director of the Center for Environmental Analysis (CEA-CREST) at Cal State L.A. The Center is the first of its kind funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) on the West Coast. CEA-CREST offers students exciting opportunities for focused and interdisciplinary research in the environmental sciences. Student Fellows participate in the center research teams, the interdisciplinary curriculum, and the university accredited internships with off-campus agencies. Robles also designed a “Bridges to the Ph.D. Program” to support CEA-CREST student fellows in doctoral programs in environmental science.

Robles’ accomplishment as a mentor also extends into his individual research. During his tenure at CSULA, he has mentored a great number of students, ranging from high school juniors to Ph.D. candidates. As director of CEA-CREST, he also assisted CEA-CREST faculty mentors as they placed graduating master’s students into Ph.D. programs at other research universities. Additionally, Robles received grants that supported innovative training in environmental research, including classroom exercises, special field experiences at remote field stations, and internships with government agencies concerned with the environment.

Robles joined the Cal State L.A. faculty in 1979, after receiving his Ph.D. from UC Berkeley, and was promoted to full professor in 1988. Since then, he has held several positions at Cal State L.A., including acting associate dean of graduate studies and research, and both associate and acting chair for the Department of Biological Sciences. He received Cal State L.A.’s 2004-2005 Outstanding Professor Award and the 2000 Bautzer Faculty Advancement Award, among other honors.

Working for California since 1947: The 175-acre hilltop campus of California State University, Los Angeles is at the heart of a major metropolitan city, just five miles from Los Angeles’ civic and cultural center. More than 20,000 students and 185,000 alumni—with a wide variety of interests, ages and backgrounds--reflect the city’s dynamic mix of populations. Six colleges offer nationally recognized science, arts, business, criminal justice, engineering, nursing, education and humanities programs, among others, led by an award-winning faculty. Cal State L.A. is home to the critically-acclaimed Luckman Jazz Orchestra and to a unique university center for gifted students as young as 12. Among programs that provide exciting enrichment opportunities to students and community include an NEH- and Rockefeller-supported humanities center; a NASA-funded center for space research; and a growing forensic science program, to be housed in the Los Angeles Regional Crime Lab now under construction. www.calstatela.edu

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