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The Foundation Has Been “Inspiring and Educating Students” for a Dozen Years

Westport, CT, January 10, 2012 – The Southern Connecticut Science & Engineering Foundation installed its Board of Directors and elected new officers at a recent meeting, where they were welcomed by State Representative Tony Hwang.

CTSTEM (The Southern Connecticut Science & Engineering Foundation), an IRS Sec. 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, seeks to inspire and educate students by encouraging inquiry and exploration in science and engineering, and by exposing them to exciting and practical advances in science. In addition to sponsoring the Southern Connecticut Invitational Science & Engineering Fair (SCISEF) each year, CTSTEM has held some extraordinary events for students to see the practical application of science, including a visit to Pratt & Whitney’s aircraft engine facilities, a physics lesson using an actual LeMans race car and a seminar by “citizen astronaut” Greg Olsen.

SCISEF was started in 2001 and promotes critical thinking skills, and motivates students to pursue science and engineering after high school. Students receive awards in four categories: life sciences, physical sciences, environmental sciences and behavioral sciences. SCISEF has grown dramatically from eight students in a library room to nearly 400 students and judges in a gymnasium. The participants have gone on to some remarkable achievements including national and international competitions such as the Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology and the Intel Science Talent Search.

A distinguishing feature of SCISEF is the amount of interaction and feedback the students receive from the expert judges. Beyond receiving a score, they receive encouragement; the students hear new, constructive ideas to help them take the next step in their pursuits.

CTSTEM also sponsors teaching training through the SUNY Albany Science Research in the High School program. Teachers who have taken this course are eligible to become adjunct professors at SUNY Albany. As a result, their research students can earn college credit during their junior and senior high school years. Currently there are more than one hundred schools in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut with SUNY trained research teachers.

With the U.S. losing ground in science literacy (19th place for boys and 28th place for girls among the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and partner countries (2007)), the Foundation would like to expand its activities and reach in years to come. For more information, sponsorship opportunities, or how to make an individual financial or in-kind donation, please visit the CTSTEM web site at and follow us on Facebook.

The CTSTEM Board of Directors and new officers:

William Foster, Chair, is a co-founder (along with Paul Heilman) of CTSTEM. This non-profit organization was started with the purposes of sponsoring an annual science fair and using other avenues to inspire the study of science. Bill is a Captain with Delta Airlines. He served 20 years in the US Navy, retiring in 2000 as a Lieutenant Commander. His last active duty assignment was as a Weapons Test Pilot at the Naval Weapons Center in China Lake, CA. He was previously involved in electronic warfare. William and his wife Jennifer have been Westport residents since 1997 and have four children enrolled in the Westport schools.

Paul Oestreicher, Ph.D., President, is a public relations/public affairs executive, author and educator. At Oestreicher Communications, LLC he consults in corporate and marketing communications, writing and messaging, and issues, crisis and reputation management. Paul is also an adjunct professor at NYU, where he teaches Strategic Communication and Research Process & Methodology. He enjoys sharing his perspectives through his blog, C-O-I-N-S: Communication Opinions, Insights and New Strategies, and recently authored a book, Camelot, Inc.: Leadership and Management Insights from King Arthur and the Round Table (Praeger Publishers). Paul started his career as a scientist in the Gastrointestinal Pharmacology group at Wyeth Labs. He then went to work for Hoffmann-La Roche in their Clinical R&D department and later moved to their Public Affairs department where he led scientific and patient public policy communications. Other positions held include VP Strategic Marketing & Communications at Genaissance Pharmaceuticals, VP Communications at Sanofi-Synthelabo and Executive VP/GM at Edelman. An inventor and holder of several toy patents, TagsMania, LLC markets his novel designs. He attended Staples High School, holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Rochester, an M.S. and Ph.D. in nutritional sciences from Rutgers University, and completed a post-doctoral fellowship in pharmacology while with Wyeth Labs.

Mary Musolino, Vice President, has been teaching science at Convent of the Sacred Heart in Greenwich, Connecticut, for 23 years. For the past twelve years, she has directed the school’s award-winning science research program. Mary currently teaches Chemistry and Science Research, and in the past has completed research internships at Rockefeller University and Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Before becoming a teacher, Mary was a Chemical Engineer for General Foods. She holds a Bachelor of Engineering Degree in Chemical Engineering and a Master of Science Degree in Secondary Science Education.

Robert Susalka, Treasurer, has been a Certified Public Accountant since 1985 with a sole proprietorship in Redding. His practice is limited to taxation and serves US public corporations in telecommunications and manufacturing, privately held corporations and partnerships, foreign corporations, and individuals, both US and foreign nationals. Previously, Bob was the International Tax Director of The Singer Company, after leaving the Manhattan office of Price Waterhouse in 1983 as a Senior Tax Manager. He began practicing with Price Waterhouse upon graduating from Pace University in 1970 with a BBA in accounting. Bob is Treasurer and a Board member of the Dispute Settlement Center, Inc., and Redding Neighbors and Newcomers, Inc. Previously, he was a Board member and Treasurer of the Fairfield Chapter of the Red Cross and First Night Westport/Weston Inc.

David Lewis, Secretary, is a science teacher and Science Department Coordinator at Darien High School. He received his B.S. in biology at the Pennsylvania State University and an M.A. in teaching at Sacred Heart University, where he is currently pursuing an advanced degree in chemistry. For the past 10 years, he has overseen Darien High School’s award-winning independent science research program.

Deborah Day is in her thirteenth year of teaching at Amity Senior High School and has taught all levels of Chemistry I as well as AP Chemistry. In 2006, Ms. Day was elected Instructor for the Science Research Program and helped to pioneer the program and shape the current 9-12 curriculum. Deborah earned a B.A. with a double major in Biology and Chemistry as well as a M.S. in Chemistry. Additionally, she completed an eight-week Internship at the Yale University School of Medicine with Dr. Joseph Huang, OB/Gyn and Reproductive Sciences, with a focus on preeclampsia and the immune system.  She was also one of ten CT Educators selected to participate in an Externship through United Technologies Corporation. Deborah is a Co-Chair of Amity’s Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Committee; a member of Amity’s Game Based Learning Committee and Amity’s Curriculum Steering Committee. She was nominated and became a finalist for the 2011 CT Women of Innovation Award by the CT Technology Council. In addition, she is a Board member of the CT Junior Science and Humanities Symposium and a Fellow of the CT Academy for Education in Mathematics, Science and Technology, Inc. She is currently training to complete her 13th marathon and will run Boston Marathon in April 2012.

Dale Lichtenberg, Ph.D. is Chief for Cytec Industries’ coating resins plant in Wallingford, CT. Dale received his B.S. in chemistry from Case Western Reserve University, his M.S. from MIT, and his Ph.D. from the Ohio State University.

Fran Walker Lichtenberg is the founderand owner of fwl communications, a firm that specializes in strategic business communications. She works with companies ranging in size from sole proprietors to Fortune 50 companies. Prior to founding her company, Fran was the executive director of a plastics industry trade association; early corporate work experience included both database management and industrial hygiene at Owens-Corning. She especially enjoys working for science and technology-based companies, where she can use both her science background and communications skills. Fran received her B.S. degree in chemistry summa cum laude from Marian College in Indianapolis; she holds Master’s degrees from Case Institute of Technology and Case Western Reserve University (Cleveland, Ohio) in both chemistry and information science.

Matt Miller, Ph.D. has worked in technology industries for more than 30 years, with significant experience as an operating executive with an emphasis on semiconductors and broadband digital communications. He is currently President and CEO of Multispectral Imaging, a venture-financed company developing uncooled infrared focal plane arrays for applications in night vision and thermal imaging. Previously, Matt served as President and CEO of NxtWave Communications, a leading supplier of semiconductor chips for emerging digital television markets worldwide, until its acquisition in 2002 by ATI Technologies. Previously, he served as VP of Technology at General Instrument, where he made major contributions to the development of digital television, optical communications for cable television, and cable modems. Before joining General Instrument, he was VP of Technology at Viacom, a horizontally-integrated communications company with interests in cable and satellite television, as well as television and radio.?Matt began his career doing research on semiconductor devices at RCA Laboratories (now Sarnoff Laboratories). Following RCA, he held a variety of technical and operational responsibilities at Perkin-Elmer Corp., where his research included space-based infrared sensors and systems, balloon-borne high resolution infrared spectroscopy instruments, and fundamental work on critical components, including tunable lead salt infrared lasers and a variety of infrared detectors. He received his B.A. in physics, magna cum laude, from Harvard College and his Ph.D. in solid-state physics from Princeton University.

A.J. Scheetz is the head of the Science Department at Staples High School. Before that, he was the principle Science Research Teacher at Staples, successfully mentoring numerous students. Prior to coming to Staples, AJ studied brain development, first at the University of Colorado where he received his M.S. and Ph.D. in neurobiology and then at Yale University where he was a post-doctoral fellow and senior research scientist. AJ has published numerous papers in peer-reviewed academic journals including the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and Nature Neuroscience. Several of AJ’s students from Staples have received national recognition for their independent science research projects.

Rita Smircich is a wedding coach and author of the book To Do Before “I Do:” Advice, Wisdom & Practical Ideas for Organizing and Planning Your Wedding. She is the founder and former Executive Director of First Night Westport/Weston, Inc., President of Events by Rita, LLC, and past President of the Entrepreneurial Woman’s Network. Rita has contributed her planning and organizational skills to CTSTEM since 2001.

Nancy Yates is an attorney who practiced antitrust and litigation at a major D.C. law firm and then served as Division Counsel at a Fortune 100 consumer products corporation, before spending the last several years in various volunteer positions, primarily with the Westport public Schools. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from New York University and her law degree from Harvard Law School.

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