Earl Scime, the Oleg P. Jefimenko Professor of Physics and chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at West Virginia University, has been named the recipient of the 2015 Heebink Award for Distinguished Service to West Virginia.

The Heebink award is given to a faculty or staff member who has “used the unique resources of the university” and their own professional expertise to provide an educational or public service activity to the citizens of the state. Scime, who has been a faculty member since 1995, has used the university’s “unique resources” to engage young people from across the state and from elementary school through high school in exciting STEM-focused projects and activities.

The primary vehicle for Scime’s STEM-based youth engagement has been For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, a national non-profit committed to inspiring “young people to be science and technology leaders.” Scime has developed FIRST LEGO League teams at the elementary and middle-school level and FIRST Robotics Competition teams at the high school level throughout West Virginia. The local FRC team is the Mountaineer Area RoboticS program.

Colleagues credit Scime’s efforts with exponential growth of the FLL program in the state and cite the 98% college-graduation rate of MARS team members as concrete evidence of the positive and lasting impact Scime’s service work with these young people has on their futures. Moreover, on January 18, 2015, the West Virginia State Legislature passed a resolution honoring MARS for its vital contributions to STEM education in the state.

“We don’t always think creatively about how an existing professional passion can inspire extraordinary service,” Provost Joyce McConnell said. “But Dr. Scime proves that this is absolutely how university service can and should work, by connecting young people with a brilliant researcher who shows them that science can be both challenging and fun.”

An award-winning teacher and a researcher of national prominence, Scime also works with the National Youth Science Camp based in Pocahontas County.

The Heebink Award was established in 1982 in memory of Ethel and Gerry Heebink, two former employees (English and Extension) of the university. An award for beginning service, given biennially, was established in 1992.

Scime will receive a $3000 honorarium in professional development support and be recognized by President Gordon Gee and Provost McConnell at the April 6 faculty awards dinner at Blaney House.



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