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Awardees to be honored in Long Beach at 2016 SACNAS – The National Diversity in STEM Conference


SACNAS (Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science) is pleased to announce the winners of the 2016 SACNAS Distinguished Awards. This year’s two awardees have exemplified the SACNAS mission by showing unparalleled dedication to excellence in science, mentoring, and teaching. These outstanding individuals were nominated by those who have been touched by their work and selected by a committee of their peers. Awards will be presented with special tributes throughout 2016 SACNAS: The National Diversity in STEM Conference at the Long Beach Convention Center, October 13-16 in Long Beach, CA.

Since the SACNAS Distinguished Awards program was initiated in 1997, the Society has honored over 80 scientists, educators, and program directors for their commitment to and personification of the spirit of the SACNAS mission: to foster the success Chicano/Hispanic and Native American scientists, from college students to professionals, in attaining attain advanced degrees, careers, and positions of leadership in STEM.

We are honored to present our 2016 recipients.

2016 SACNAS Distinguished Scientist Award

Steven Greenbaum, PhD

Professor of Physics

Hunter College City University of New York

“This honor serves as a reminder to many of my colleagues that one does not need to make a choice between doing the best science one can do and involving students from segments of the population that are under-represented in STEM,” said 2016 SACNAS Distinguished Scientist Awardee, Dr. Steven Greenbaum.

Dr. Steven Greenbaum is a Professor of Physics at Hunter College (CUNY), and a Fellow of the American Physical Society. He earned his PhD in Physics from Brown University. He was an NRC Postdoc at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., and spent sabbatical years as a Fulbright Scholar at the Weizmann Institute of Science and as a Senior Research Fellow at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He has held Visiting Professorships at several universities: Stony Brook, Rutgers, Tel Aviv, Paris-Sud, Padova, and Rome La Sapienza. Dr. Greenbaum’s research involves spectroscopic studies of materials for electrochemical energy storage and conversion by magnetic resonance and synchrotron x-ray absorption. He has co-authored over 220 peer reviewed publications and given over 50 invited talks at international conferences. He received the White House-sponsored Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring, and was a Jefferson Science Fellow at the U.S. State Department.

2016 SACNAS Distinguished Mentor Award

Sarina Ergas, PhD

Professor of Environmental Engineering

University of South Florida

“It has been a privilege to play a role in mentoring an outstanding group of scholars. With support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the National Science Foundation, EPA and other agencies, these students are helping to solve complex public health and environmental problems,” said 2016 SACNAS Distinguished Mentor Awardee, Dr. Sarina Ergas, “Addressing these issues requires that no talented scientist or engineer is left out because of their gender, age, background, race or ethnicity.”

Dr. Sarina Ergas is a professor and graduate program director in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of South Florida. She joined USF in 2009 after teaching at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst for 15 years. She teaches courses in Biological Principles in Environmental Engineering, Capstone Engineering Design and Mentoring Novice Researchers. Her research focuses on Environmental Biotechnology, including applications in wastewater treatment and reuse, biological waste to energy technologies, sustainable aquaculture systems and stormwater management. Dr. Ergas has mentored 19 PhD students, 34 MS students, and approximately 100 undergraduates, visiting scholars, high school science teachers and students and postdocs in her laboratory. She is a licensed Professional Engineer and an American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists Board Certified Environmental Engineer.


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