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2010 News Releases

Longwood biology professor named SENCER Leadership Fellow

March 19, 2010

Dr. Alix Fink Dr. Alix Fink

Dr. Alix Fink, associate professor of biology at Longwood University, has been named a SENCER Leadership Fellow by the National Fellowship Board of the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement.

Fink has been the Longwood team leader for the Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities (SENCER) project since the university's involvement began in 2002. SENCER is a faculty development and science reform initiative supported by the National Science Foundation that engages students in science and mathematics by focusing coursework on real world problems. SENCER is the signature program of the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement, a research center affiliated with Harrisburg University of Science and Technology.

These fellowships honor educators for their exemplary leadership and commitment to the improvement of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education and provide an opportunity for honorees to continue their efforts. SENCER Fellows, appointed to 18-month terms, expand their existing campus work, mentor colleagues, and disseminate results regionally and nationally.

Longwood faculty teams working on SENCER have produced three new General Education courses: "The Power of Water," which has been taught at least once every academic year since fall 2003, "The Geography of Health," first taught in fall 2007, and "The Politics and Science of Natural Resource Management," offered initially in spring 2006. The last course will be taught at Yellowstone National Park this summer by Fink and fellow faculty members Kerri Cushman, Dr. David Hardin, Dr. Ed Kinman and Dr. Carl Riden.

"The Politics and Science of Natural Resource Management" is a Goal 14 course, which deals with civic life. The other two courses are Goal 6 courses, which are about science.

"Alix's work with SENCER has been nationally recognized in science education organizations and journals," said Dr. Geoff Orth, director of the Cormier Honors College. "Moreover, the SENCER initiative has been of great benefit not only to our students but also to the Longwood community as offerings such as The Power of Water general education class and the Yellowstone environmental science course have helped create public citizens to engage the broadest representation of our campus in sustaining the environment."

Colleges and universities using the SENCER approach have had measurable success in increasing the interest and science literacy rates of students, especially regarding women and non-science majors. SENCER also supports initiatives in science and mathematics major courses, teacher preparation, formative assessment, and high school education.

Fink has attended two SENCER Summer Institutes, described as the "cornerstone" of the program and an "invitational, intensive, residential, team-based learning opportunity for educators, academic leaders, and students." In 2002 she was accompanied by fellow Longwood faculty members Dr. Jeremy Lloyd (now science specialist for the Chesterfield County schools) Dr. Michelle Parry, Dr. Melissa Rhoten, and Dr. Keith Rider and administrator Dr. Nancy Krippel (now at Mary Baldwin College). In 2007 she was accompanied by fellow faculty members Dr. Scott Cole, Dr. Dan Druckenbrod (now at Rider University), Dr. Mark Fink (her husband), and Dr. Ed Kinman and administrator Dr. Chuck Ross.

Fink, the biology area coordinator, has taught at Longwood since 2001. She served for two years as an assistant director of the Cormier Honors College and still helps with the Honors College. She is a biology councilor (elected nationally) for the Council on Undergraduate Research and is involved with the American Democracy Project and the Wildlife Society, the national professional organization for wildlife biologists. Fink is a wildlife biologist who works with birds and bats and looks at how forest management affects those wildlife populations.