Local Doctor Named Advocate to Help Underserved Students Compete, Succeed in Science Research Competitions

Wausau, May 18, 2017 - Jeff Fritz, PhD, of the Medical College of Wisconsin-Central Wisconsin (MCW-CW), was selected by the Society for Science & the Public for the Advocate Grant Program from 2017-2018. This program was started to help underserved students overcome barriers, compete, and succeed in science research competitions. Dr. Fritz will work alongside 44 other advocates nationwide to help local high school students navigate the process for science research competitions.

Jeff Fritz, PhD teaching

In addition to Dr. Fritz’s future role as an advocate within the program, he currently volunteers at the Enrich, Excel, Achieve Learning Academy (EEA), a public charter school serving the Wausau School District. At the academy, Dr. Fritz spends his time helping high school students on a variety of subjects such as algebra, chemistry and other science technology engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects.

Tying in with Dr. Fritz’s current volunteer activities, the Advocate Grant Program aims to help students explore the different areas of science in addition to teaching important life skills such as public speaking, research, and how to deliver an effective presentation to an audience.

Dr. Fritz will be awarded a $3,000 stipend to use for recruiting a cohort of local students. He will then guide and mentor the students as they make their journey through a vast array of science competitions. Competitions can range in size from a local or state science fair all the way up to national competitions such as Intel ISEF or the Google Science Fair. These opportunities will allow students to demonstrate their skills not only as individuals, but as members of a team as well. Students will have the opportunity to compete for cash prizes, grants, or even scholarships for college depending on which competitions are selected by the cohort.

“This project is focused on serving under-represented student populations in STEM areas so for me success is that we increase opportunities for students and their peers,” says Dr. Fritz when asked what success for the students looked like to him. “It would be great if the participants were to achieve success at the level of college scholarships, but for me that is a secondary goal compared to developing in these students an excitement/curiosity toward scientific inquiry and the personal skills developed in completing and presenting a research project.”

Since the Advocate Grant Program’s inception three years ago, it has expanded from nine advocates to the current roster of 45 for the 2017-2018 program term. This term received 236 advocate applications from across the United States including Washington, D.C. The program will host more than 350 students during the course of the 2017-2018 term.

“My goal is to be an encouragement to the students I get the opportunity to interact with,” says Dr. Fritz. “My desire was to instill in these students a greater appreciation for their potential. My hope is that we can build on this excitement, that we can continue the program, and possibly expand it such that one day we develop an additional regional science fair(s) in the Central Wisconsin area.”

The Advocate Grant Program is made possible by the Arconic Foundation, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation and Regeneron. In addition to the program, the Society for Science and the Public also announced a $100,000 grant from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation and a $150,000 grant from the Arconic Foundation.