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    Oil and gas industry challenged to engage STEM talent in Black communities

    WASHINGTON DC–When it comes to preparing the next generation for careers in science, technology engineering and mathematics, also known at STEM, Jack Gerard, the president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute, said that leaders in the oil and natural gas industry have to answer the “awareness question.”

    “There are many people out there, today, that don’t really understand the oil and natural gas industry or the opportunities that it can present for them, their families and for well-paying careers,” said Gerard. “It’s incumbent upon us, as an industry, to have this dialogue more often and to intensify this discussion, so that people really understand,” the connection between the oil and natural gas industry and their everyday lives.

    The American Petroleum Institute and the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, recently hosted a panel discussion focused on increasing diversity and inclusion in STEM careers and in the oil and natural gas industry. API, the only national trade group representing all facets of the oil and natural gas industry, according to the group’s website, supports 10.3 million jobs in the United States and nearly 8 percent of the U.S. economy.

    The panel discussion coincided with the release of a new RAND report titled, “Postsecondary Education and STEM Employment in the United States.” The report, which was prepared for API, examined national education trends and the relationship between degree attainment and employment and wages, specifically in STEM fields.

    “Many of tomorrow’s best paying careers, at all levels, will require some kind of training or education in a STEM discipline,” said Gerard.

    STEM degrees can lead to higher earnings and can help to close the wage gap between Blacks and Whites. Those higher earnings are even more pronounced in the oil and gas industry.

    Blacks with STEM bachelor’s degrees earn $45.15 in hourly wages in the oil and natural gas industry, compared to Blacks with non-STEM bachelor’s degrees, who make $28.10 per hour, according to the RAND report.

    Whites with STEM bachelor’s degrees make slightly more per hour than Blacks with STEM degrees working in the oil and natural gas industry ($45.26 vs. $45.15).

    The hourly wage gap is higher between Whites and Blacks with non-STEM degrees that work in the oil and gas industry ($37.73 vs. $28.10).

    According to the 2016 report titled, “Minority and Female Employment in the Oil & Natural Gas and Petrochemical Industries, 2015-2035” by IHS Global prepared for API, “nearly 1.9 million direct job opportunities are projected through 2035 in the oil and natural gas and petrochemical industries” and “African Americans and Hispanics will account for over 80 percent of the net increase in the labor force from 2015 to 2035.”

    Gerard said that over the next 10 years about 50 percent of the oil and natural gas workforce is going to “turnover.”

    According to the IHS Global report on minority and female employment in the oil and natural gas industry, Blacks accounted for 6.7 percent of the total workforce.

    Gerard said that as the current workforce reaches retirement age, the industry will need a rising generation to fill those jobs. Understanding the demographic shifts the industry has to get more aggressive in addressing that challenge, added Gerard.

    “If we’re going to do the things that are necessary to move the needle to impact those 1.9 million jobs, we have to go where most people don’t want to go and that’s in the Black and brown communities,” said Calvin Mackie, Ph.D., founder of STEM NOLA. “We often talk about STEM in a way that a common man and common woman really can’t grasp.”

    Mackie, who is an engineer in New Orleans, said that millions of Black and brown boys play football and basketball every Saturday, dreaming of making it to the NFL or NBA, even though their chances of achieving that goal are statistically low.

    “If we’re going to solve this problem, we have to go to the communities and make sure that on every Saturday there are a million Black and brown kids doing STEM, hoping and believing that, 15 years later, they will become,” millionaires and billionaires, said Mackie.

    Mackie runs a program that exposes elementary and high school students from underserved communities to STEM principles and STEM careers.

    Gerard said that leaders of the oil and natural gas industry recognize that they have to engage more effectively with minority communities, in order to build relationships and train and recruit their future workforce.

    “We need help from people who have been on the frontlines for many years,” said Gerard.

    Overton said that working with groups like the National Newspaper Publishers Association can improve the oil and natural gas industry’s outreach in the Black community.

    Overton also shared an anecdote about the African American women who were depicted in the movie “Hidden Figures.”

    African American NASA mathematician Dorothy Vaughan predicted that an incoming IBM computer would displace “human computers” in the 1960s. In anticipation, she learned the computer language Fortran, and she taught it to her team of Black women mathematicians. When the IBM arrived, the team was ready and took over new jobs operating the IBM, Overton said.

    “We are in this moment of rare opportunity…we can be proactive instead of reactive, like those women in ‘Hidden Figures,’” said Spencer Overton, the president of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies.

    Mackie said that in order to increase awareness about STEM careers in the oil and natural gas industry, programs have to be culturally and environmentally relevant.

    “When we start talking about STEM education…sometimes it’s disenfranchising our children, because it’s not exposing them to the possibility of the hundreds of thousands of jobs in the oil and gas industry,” said Mackie.

    Mackie said that the nature of work is rapidly changing, driven by innovation and technology; that rapid change has the power to change lives for those individuals who have access to the resources to harness those tools.

    Some education advocates fear that Black children, oftentimes don’t have access to those resources.

    “America is in trouble,” said Mackie. “We have to make sure that we expose every kid to the possibility of STEM, because the future will belong to those that can play in it and create it and all of our kids deserve that possibility.”

    Gerard noted that the oil and natural gas industry contributes to the production of the energy efficient screens found on windows, the paint on the walls in our homes and offices, the fiber composites in the carpet, and the plastic components in smartphones.

    “We have to make our industry more relevant in those conversations, so that rising generations realize that there are vast opportunities up and down the continuum,” said Gerard. “So, we don’t scare them with the STEM conversation, but we teach them that everything that they do is grounded in this industry and the opportunity within that space is very significant.”

    Gerard continued, “If we can work on this together, we’re going to see a lot of opportunities out there, because people will start making those connections between [the oil and natural gas industry] to things they take for granted and to well-paying careers.”

    By Freddie Allen 
    NNPA Editor-In-Chief

     

    PHOTO CAPTION: Calvin Mackie,Ph.D., engineer and founder of STEM NOLA, talks about diversity and inclusion in the oil and natural gas industry, during a panel discussion at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. (Freddie Allen/AMG/NNPA)

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    Mackie appointed to LaSTEM Council

    Calvin Mackie, Ph.D., of Gretna, was appointed by Gov. John Bel Edwards to the LaSTEM Council. Mackie holds a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering and is the President and CEO of the Channel Zero Group. He formerly served on the faculty at Tulane University where he researched heat transfer, fluid dynamics, energy efficiency, and renewable energy. Mackie is also the founder of STEM NOLA, an organization which serves to expose, inspire, and engage members in New Orleans and the surrounding communities about opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

    The Louisiana Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Advisory Council (LaSTEM) was established to coordinate and oversee the creation, delivery, and promotion of STEM education program; to increase student interest and achievement in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics; to ensure the alignment of education, economic development, industry, and workforce needs; and to increase the number of women who graduate from a postsecondary institution with a STEM degree or credential.

    ONLINE: http://www.channelzro.com

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    McGuire, leader in student education, wins national chemical award

    For more than 46 years, Saundra Yancy McGuire, PhD. has been helping students realize their academic potential. A nationally recognized chemical educator, author and lecturer, she has travelled the globe promoting sure-fire strategies to help students, including those underrepresented in science and math professions, to be successful in their coursework and careers. In recognition of her work and the thousands of students she has impacted, McGuire has been awarded the 2017 American Chemical Society, or ACS, Award for Encouraging Disadvantaged Students into Careers in the Chemical Sciences, sponsored by the Camille & Henry Dreyfus Foundation.

    “I’m very humbled to be the recipient of the ACS Dreyfus Award for Encouraging Disadvantaged Students into Careers in the Chemical Sciences. I gratefully accept this honor on behalf of all of the individuals who made it possible. They include my nominator, LSU Professor Isiah Warner, and all of the colleagues and students who supported the nomination,” said McGuire, director emerita of LSU’s Center for Academic Success and retired assistant vice chancellor and professor of chemistry. “When I look at the previous winners of this award, I am very honored to join this distinguished group, and I am even more determined to ensure that all students, especially disadvantaged students, are encouraged to pursue and reach their dreams.”

    As a chemistry major at Southern University and A&M College, McGuire learned early on that the right support can make the difference between failure and success. She enrolled at Southern University with plans to major in chemistry despite the fact that she had not taken chemistry in high school (she skipped her senior year).

    “I was successful because of wonderful faculty members and supportive peers who helped me overcome the gaps in my preparation and excel,” said McGuire.

    Later in graduate school, McGuire decided to give extra support to the students in the introductory chemistry course for which she was a teaching assistant during her first year at Cornell University.

    “I knew that these underprepared students were capable of success, but I doubted they would excel without someone working with them to help them learn how to understand the concepts and develop effective problem solving strategies,” said McGuire.

    McGuire is the author of “Teach Students How to Learn: Strategies You Can Incorporate into Any Course to Improve Student Metacognition, Study Skills, and Motivation.” She spent 11 years at Cornell University, where she received the coveted Clark Distinguished Teaching Award. She joined LSU in 1999, and has delivered her widely acclaimed faculty-development workshops on teaching students how to learn at more than 250 institutions in 43 states and eight countries.

    “My effectiveness with students increased exponentially while at LSU. I learned so much from Sarah Baird and other learning strategists at the Center for Academic Success, and I developed what we now refer to as the metacognitive approach to learning,” McGuire said.

    Metacognition allows students to analyze their own learning and take control of their study behaviors. This approach has proved to be a remarkably successful way of helping students make the transition from being memorizers who regurgitate information to being critical thinkers who can solve novel problems. 

    “I’ve always found student transformation intoxicating, and I love celebrating student success,” said McGuire. “My inspiration comes from the reactions of students when they see that they can succeed and that they don’t have to give up their dreams.”

    McGuire earned her bachelor’s degree in chemistry, magna cum laude, from Southern University in 1970, and her master’s degree in chemical education from Cornell University in 1971. She earned her PhD in chemical education from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in 1983. Her many other honors and awards include the 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers and the 2002 Dr. Henry C. McBay Outstanding Chemical Educator Award from the same organization. In January, she was awarded the Lifetime Mentor Award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, or AAAS.

    McGuire has been very active in the ACS for over 40 years beginning as a member of the ACS student organization during her senior year at Southern University. She was named an ACS Fellow in 2010, chaired the ACS Committee on Minority Affairs from 2002-2004 and was a member of the committee from 1999 to 2004.

    McGuire will be honored at the awards ceremony on Tuesday, April 4, 2017 in conjunction with the 253rd ACS National Meeting in San Francisco.

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    SUNO researcher partners with PBI to continue DNA forensic research

    Pressure BioSciences, Inc. announced it has entered into a Collaboration Agreement with Southern University at New Orleans to focus on improving and extending the applications of the Company’s unique and patented pressure cycling technology platform for the detection of DNA in forensic samples.

    Pam Marshall,Ph.D., interim director, Forensic Science Program SUNO is an expert on sexual assault kit examination and collection practices and will lead the program with Pressure BioScience Inc.

    While a graduate student in the laboratory of Professor Bruce Budowle (a recognized key opinion leader in forensic science) at the University of North Texas’ UNT Health Science Center, Marshall and her colleagues showed that incorporating PCT into the testing protocol for poor quality bone enabled more DNA to be detected as compared to standard methods. As part of the collaboration, Marshall will continue this pioneering work. She and her team at Southern University also will investigate other important areas in which PCT might enhance forensic sample testing.

    “A critical yet often difficult task in forensic analysis is the extraction of high quality DNA from challenged or inhibited samples,” said Marshall. “My previous work with the PCT platform gave me an appreciation for this powerful and enabling technology. My published research established that improved quality and quantity of DNA could be extracted from human bone samples with PCT, as compared to bones not treated with PCT.”

    Marshall said she believes that several projects undertaken during the collaboration could help establish PCT as a standard method in forensic science. For example, in an effort to reduce poaching, the extraction of DNA from seized African Elephant ivory samples is an important yet very difficult challenge at the present time. “We believe PCT might enable the recovery of greater amounts of DNA compared to current methods,” she said. “If successful, this could lead to the use of PCT for the extraction of DNA from a variety of difficult samples. This will be one of the first projects undertaken.”

    “We are pleased to support Dr. Marshall and her team in their development of new, improved, and expanded applications of the PCT platform in the testing of forensic samples. We believe their efforts will result in commercially profitable PCT-based products for PBI, possibly before the end of 2015,” said Nate Lawrence, vice president of marketing and sales for PBI.

    “In addition to the possible development of new PCT-based products, we are pleased that the collaboration also will support the Forensic Science program at SUNO,” said Mr. Richard T. Schumacher, President and CEO of PBI. “This program provides students with the course work, skills and experience necessary for success as a forensic scientist. This role is critical to our criminal justice system, since investigators, courts, and the public depend on forensic scientists for accurate and timely information.”

    Mr. Schumacher continued: “Our country needs well educated, professionally-trained, forensic scientists. “The Bureau of Labor Statistics currently estimates an approximate 20% increase in job growth in the forensic science field over the next six years. However, although the number of forensic science graduates nationwide is high, the number of graduates among underrepresented minorities is highly inadequate. That is why we are pleased to support educators like Dr. Marshall and universities like SUNO who are at the forefront of developing the next generation of highly skilled forensic scientists, with a vast majority from underrepresented populations.”

    Southern University at New Orleans was founded in 1956 to expand academic opportunities for Blacks. Today, SUNO still serves as a beacon for those looking for educational advancement in an environment that provides the personal attention some students need for success. With our mission in mind, we plan to be America’s premier urban institution of higher learning in the field of Forensic Science, providing educational access to students ready to contribute to our city and nation. In 2013, SUNO successfully implemented the Forensic Science Bachelor of Science degree program. SUNO is the only Historically Black College and University (HBCU) in Louisiana to offer this degree and one of four nationwide. The BS in Forensic Science degree program is committed to producing technically knowledgeable and skilled graduates equipped with the basic foundational science and laboratory problem solving skills necessary for success in the crime laboratory. Upon completion of the Forensic Science program, graduates will be prepared to function as forensic scientists, or for advanced study in such areas as forensic science, biomedical research, medicine and law. Please visit the University’s Web site at www.SUNO.edu.

    Pressure BioSciences Inc. develops, markets, and sells proprietary laboratory instrumentation and associated consumables to the estimated $6 billion life sciences sample preparation market. PCT customers also use our products in other areas, such as drug discovery and design, bio-therapeutics characterization, soil and plant biology, vaccine development, histology, and forensic applications.

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