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NSF/ESF Science Corps Undergraduate Fellows
The ESF Science Corps

Meet the Undergraduate Fellows

Julie Cerny
Julie was born and raised outside of Queens, NY on Long Island and currently lives in East Chatham, NY. She developed her interest in the natural world through family outings to nature parks and participating in the Envirothon program offered at Chatham High School. Julie came to SUNY ESF as a freshman majoring in Environmental Studies. In the three years since then she has become particularly interested in ecosystem structure and function, human impacts on the environment, and environmental education. Julie feels there are certain environmental topics that every person should have background knowledge on, such as basic ecological principles, how everything humans do is connected to and affects the natural world (because we are a part of it!), and how their impacts will become more severe as the human population continues to increase.

Julie sees the NSF Undergraduate Fellowship as an opportunity to explore teaching as a career option. From day one, she has felt that the job has been exciting, rewarding, and an extremely positive learning experience. In particular she recalls leading a group of children into Baltimore Woods in Marcellus, NY. One little girl, about eight years old, walked close by her side and said quietly, "I’ve never been hiking before?I’ve never been in the woods before." By the end of the morning, the little girl didn’t want to leave the forest or the stream they had been investigating. Baltimore Woods had become an exciting NSF/ESF Science Corps Undergraduate Fellowsplace to explore, and as the group left the little girl said with confidence and a smile, "I was afraid of the woods at first, but I’m not anymore. I want to stay longer."

Outside of work, Julie keeps herself close to nature through traveling and leading ESF’s outing club, the Bob Marshall Club. She also enjoys playing the guitar and reading.

Heather Conway
Heather is a senior chemistry major from Warsaw, New York. She became a chemistry major because of her belief that chemistry is everywhere and in everything. Due to this belief, Heather couldn’t think of a more interesting way to explore the world around her than join an undergraduate program in chemistry. She has been able to further explore and share her love of chemistry through her involvement with the ESF Chemistry Club and Alpha Chi Sigma Professional Chemistry Fraternity. One of her favorite activities is participating in Chemistry Demo Shows. Heather’s specialty is making Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream. Desire to share her love of chemistry with others led Heather to become an Undergraduate Fellow. This position gives her the opportunity to explore her interest in teaching; while allowing her to show others how exciting chemistry can be. During the summer program, one of the most exciting moments for Heather was pouring liquid nitrogen across the floor and seeing the students’ reactions. Their initial shock quickly turned to excitement and an increased interest in chemistry. Experiences like this one have encouraged Heather to continue her chemistry education in graduate school with the hope of teaching at the college level one day. While not busy with academics, Heather spends her time reading, swimming, golfing and playing softball.

Andrew Holz
I am a senior Environmental Studies student with a concentration in Environmental Communication. I was born and raised in New York City. Attending one of the New York City Public Schools, with an overcrowded student population and an inability for teachers to give their students’ adequate individual attention has inspired me to become an educator. I feel that children are yearning for someone to teach them something that will stick with them for the remainder of their lives. The National Science Foundation/ ESF Fellowship Program has brought me one step closer to the world of teaching. I have always admired my teachers. The admiration grew until I decided that becoming a teacher was in my blood. I would like to be one of those teachers that students respect and admire for their undying dedication to their students. On one particular cloudy day with the skies gray and gloomy, students from Roberts School were brought to Elmwood Park for a college-level lab that compared stream and pond habitats. The students saw how certain unexpected events may occur in a scientific setting. In a poor attempt to enter the stream from the rocky banks, I managed to fall into the stream. After measuring stream velocity, we moved on to the pond. At the pond, I gathered two students to assist me with water velocity measurements in the pond. We measured four times in different areas and on the fifth attempt, one of the students lost her sandals in the aquatic vegetation. I tried to rescue the sandals for quite some time but to no luck. On the trail back to the school, one of the students told me that they had a lot of fun and that they were proud that they accomplished a college-level lab. The sense of fulfillment and accomplishment in our students was rewarding.

Besides teaching, I enjoy writing editorials, short stories, plays, and unconventional poetry. Free-lance writing is a hobby of mine. I am involved in many other clubs which has enabled me to enhance my programming and organizational skills. My involvement in extra-curricular activities have given me a chance to teach my peers about writing, self-expression, and theatrical arts. My love of self-expression and education through the written word has guided me to become the Editor-In-Chief of Ecologue , SUNY-ESF’s premiere creative writing journal, for three years. I am also the Managing Editor of The Knothole, SUNY-ESF’s student-run newspaper, and President/Co-Founder of The Creative Minds Club, SUNY-ESF’s Theatre and Creative Writing Club.

Joan Martinez
Joan Martinez is a sophomore and an EFB major; she was born and raised in Miami, Florida. Syracuse, New York was a big change from the sub-tropical environment she was accustomed to. The campus atmosphere and quality of education at ESF could not have been better for her. Participating in the ESF Science Corps was a very enriching experience for her, working with children and interacting with the environment. She was especially struck by an experience with the first group of kids, they were supposed to lead a nature walk and find as many different animals and plants as possible. It just surprised her how many of the kids had never really explored nature before! Soon enough after they had turned over a log and found all sorts of worms and centipedes, all the children wanted to turn over every log and investigate every crevice on every tree in the trail. At that moment Joan knew that they were making an impact and that everyone involved was getting something out of it. Her experiences with the Science Corps have helped in Joan’s aspirations to be a science teacher or an educator of the environment.


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