Scholar Profiles



Billy, Ali, Michael, Amy, Jessica, Rachel, Jeff, Elaine, Karl

Billy, Ali, Michael, Amy, Jessica, Rachel, Jeff, Elaine, and Karl showing us how they feel about the Noyce program.


Amy Cianci — Chemistry

Amy Cianci, Noyce Scholar 2013–14Amy graduated from Holy Cross in 2008 with a Bachelors degree in chemistry. For the next three years, she worked as a research assistant at a start-up biotech company, where her research focused on organic synthesis and cell biology. She continued to pursue research in cell biology at Boston Children’s Hospital in the Department of Hematology/Oncology. While at the Hospital, she also had the opportunity to volunteer each week. Through her interactions with the patients, Amy realized how much she enjoyed working with kids. This experience is what ultimately prompted her to become a teacher.

While I enjoyed my time in the laboratory, some of my favorite moments at the Hospital were working as a volunteer. Through my volunteer work, I discovered the joys of working directly with children and my desire to guide and support them as a teacher. I believe that my scientific career will largely influence my teaching strategies. As a teacher, I hope to draw upon my experiences in lab as a way to discuss chemistry in a familiar and relevant manner. I hope that this will help my students to imagine occupations they had not yet considered, giving them the confidence to set new, challenging goals.

I chose Boston University’s M.A.T. program because I could see through their curriculum that I would develop concrete teaching strategies that would allow me to merge my scientific and teaching careers. As a BU student, I greatly appreciate the supportive environment at SED and its clear commitment to science education in urban schools.


William Decker — Chemistry

Billy Decker, Noyce Scholar 2013–14(In progress)





Jeffrey Fox — Physics

Jeffrey is from Freehold, New Jersey (aka the hometown of Bruce Springsteen). He is in the dual-degree program and will graduate with degrees in physics and education in May 2014. Jeff has been a student leader since coming to Boston University, including three years as a Dean’s Host and he is co-president this year.

Be sure to read Jeff’s BU Culture Shock blog.
I have known years that I wanted to teach. However, I did not know right away what subject that I wanted to teach. For several years, including while I was applying to colleges, I was convinced that I was going to be an English teacher, but I decided that I wanted to do into physics based on that one lesson on the de Broglie wavelength—I’m still rather entranced by the fact that I am a wave! I have always enjoyed science, but the sciences became an even larger part of my life after I arrived at Boston University.”

I came to Boston University in part because I knew there would be other people here who share this goal. I am consistently impressed with both my mentors and peers at the School of Education, and I know that I will be the best teacher that I can be because of the training that I have received here. I think that education is the most good that I can do with my life, and our world needs excellent teachers, especially in science, more than anything else. “


Michael Friedman — Physics

Michael received a bachelors degree in mathematics and physics from Oberlin College. He came to Boston University in 2010 to study physics and began research in nanobiotechnology with aspirations of making a positive difference in the world through scientific research and teaching undergraduate level physics. While in the physics department, Michael was a fellow with the GK–12 program, an NSF-funded program partnering graduate students and teachers in K-12 classrooms to enhance their curriculum, and he interned at an urban Boston public school.

At Oberlin College, my career path was still uncertain. My idols were my college professors, and I was enjoying research in hydrogen technology—which had exciting applications for future fuel cell cars. The GK–12 program program changed my outlook on how I could best spend my energy changing lives for the better. Though I was fascinated by my research in biosensing, nanotechnology, and early detection of disease, I discovered that the life of a scientist was simply not for me.

After three years, I made the difficult decision to leave the physics program and laboratory that I adored so much to follow what I believe to be my passion and enroll at the BU School of Education. As I continue on this path towards being an educator, I plan to maintain my connections with the physics and engineering departments at Boston University, utilizing those resources and my expertise in physics to be an excellent teacher of science.


Rachel Norris — Biology

Rachel Norris, Noyce Scholar 2013–14 Rachel hails from Little Rock, Arkansas and jumped at the opportunity to attend Boston University and be part of the Master of Arts in Teaching Science Program. She received her degree in Biology, Magna Cum Laude, from the University of Arkansas Little Rock with every intention of attending medical school and gained a great deal of insight working for two years in clinics and an Emergency Room. While Rachel found scientific study fascinating, her focus began to shift from entering into the medical field towards giving back to her community. She worked for City Year Little Rock/North Little Rock, an AmeriCorps educational non-profit as a corps member in a middle school and a team leader at an elementary school. It was during those two incredible years when Rachel realized that her heart belonged in a school and that she wanted to teach the aesthetics of science and the beauty in the world around us.

When looking at graduate programs, the MAT Science Education Program at Boston University spoke to me on many different levels and I knew it would give me the innovative instruction I would need to empower students to learn. I was attracted to the program’s dedication in developing and practicing ways to teach students through active science. When I accepted my offer to Boston University, I believed I would receive outstanding instruction on current equitable science education theory and ideas on powerful innovative constructivist content while simultaneously gaining experience as a student teacher.

I have told multiple friends and family members that since my first day of classes, I knew I had made the correct decision and that I had already begun to gain the knowledge and have the experiences promised by the MAT program. I am very excited for my future and the teacher I will become because of my education at Boston University.


Elaine Richardson — General Science

Elaine Richardson, Noyce Scholar 2013–14Elaine grew up in Westwood, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston, and received a bachelors in Environmental Science from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2008. Wanting to positively impact the world, she planned to pursue a career in environmental policy following a life-long interest in the natural environment. Elaine was hired as an outdoor educator at Nature’s Classroom, a non-profit experiential education program for middle school students in New England and knew almost immediately that she wanted to teach. After working as an instructor for the program for two and a half years and as a site coordinator for two more, Elaine knew it was time to translate her outdoor education skills and experience into a public school classroom.

I am very excited to be a part of the Noyce program at Boston University, and chose the MAT Science Education program at BU because I was impressed by everyone I met and spoke with and I knew it would be an opportunity to be a part of a top notch learning community. The program has far surpassed my expectations! Along with excellent in-class instruction, I have had the opportunity to get hands-on teaching experience with interesting, diverse groups of students in several different contexts. I know that when I graduate from BU in May I will be well prepared to be an enthusiastic and effective middle school science teacher!

I decided to alter my career path after college because I realized that the way I wished to change the world was to teach others to be inquisitive, thoughtful “scientists” and inspire them to pursue their passions in school and beyond. I had the privilege of receiving an excellent public school education and I want to bring the same caliber of instruction and passion that many of my teachers possessed to urban schools in Massachusetts. I plan to spend my career teaching in urban, high-need schools because I believe that inspired and inspiring teachers have the potential to reach high-risk students in high-need areas. My coursework and practicum experiences through BU are helping me solidify that belief.


Alice Shaw — General Science

Ali Ali Shaw, Noyce Scholar 2013–14graduated from the University of Virginia in 2012, receiving a B.A. in both Environmental Sciences and Spanish. Following graduation, she worked as an environmental educator at the University of Rhode Island’s W. Alton Jones Campus and then at the Audubon Society of Rhode Island through the Ocean State Environmental Education Collaborative (OSEEC) AmeriCorps program. One of the chief goals of OSEEC is to improve the science proficiency and environmental literacy of students in Rhode Island’s urban areas., and while Ali worked with students from many different types of schools during my service year, she found time spent in urban schools to be the most rewarding.

In eighth grade, I had an incredible science teacher. It was not the content of her course, however, that made her so remarkable; it was her approach. Everything was hands-on: we dissected squids, performed egg drops, and more. She also headed NASA’s EarthKAM program at our school, in which we were able to take photos of the Earth from the International Space Station. She pushed her students to reach for the stars, figuratively and literally, and opened my eyes up to the wonders of science. Two years later my biology teacher took my love of science and gave it a focus: the environment. Despite rigid learning assessment requirements, he focused the course on what he thought was most important: ecology lessons and outdoor excursions. He encouraged his students to take the time to notice nature, and strove to instill an appreciation for the great outdoors within all of us. Just like any classroom, there were posters around the room, but a special one hung on the door. It was a picture of the Earth with this Kenyan proverb written across it: ‘Treat the Earth well, it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children.’ To this day I try to live in accordance with this quote, and also incorporate this maxim into my teaching.

I chose Boston University’s School of Education for several reasons. Not only is it a great school, but also has top-notch professors who truly care about their students. Thanks to the flexibility and support of the Science MAT faculty, I was able to complete my AmeriCorps year of service in Rhode Island while also beginning the MAT program with the other members of my class. Finally, Boston is a great city and I was excited about the opportunities to work with students in the Greater Boston Area. So far I have really enjoyed and learned a lot from both my courses and pre-practicum, and I am glad that I chose SED.



Jessica Sullivan — Biology

Jessica Sullivan, Noyce Scholar 2013–14Jessica graduated from BU in 2011 with a Bachelors degree in Biology, and for the next two years worked in a Developmental and Regenerative Biology research lab at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston studying hematopoietic stem cells. While volunteering with inner-city students at a summer science camp as an undergraduate, it became clear to Jessica how important it was for her to find opportunities to share her knowledge and excitement for biology with others.

Working at Joslin was invaluable in terms of gaining experience in the field and strengthening my understanding of content, it was also an awakening personal experience. I realized that instead of spending my time in the lab all day, I would much rather spend my time in the classroom, working with students to strengthen their knowledge and form a positive opinion of science. This is an important mission, especially today, where there seems to be a growing divide between those inside and outside of the science community. I want to work to change this by helping to inspire the next generation of scientists, in the hopes of strengthening communication within the science community. I feel it is the job of scientists to be the ones working to bridge these gaps, and that the first step is working with students in our schools, especially the schools with historically less access to resources and science educators.

As a former BU student, I of course was biased in making my decision to enroll in the MAT program here at BU. In my opinion, the university is unmatched in terms of its available resources, faculty, and commitment to student success. (Its location within the city of Boston is also an added bonus…) The positive experiences I had as an undergraduate have completely translated to my graduate experience thus far. Both the Noyce Science program and SED as a whole are close communities in which help and support are always readily available, which for me has already proven to be a valuable resource, and most likely will only be more so as the program progresses.


Karl Yando — Physics

Karl Yando, Noyce Scholar 2013–14Karl was raised in southeastern Massachusetts, and from a young age, has been interested in how the world works. This interest led him to science and the study of physics, which promises the ability to help us see and understand the universe in new ways. Karl earned BA and MS degrees in physics from Dartmouth College. Most recently, he was employed at Space Sciences Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley. He enjoys hiking, the outdoors, and DIY projects and repairs. This year, Karl is student-teaching at Boston Green Academy, in South Boston.

Near the end of his undergraduate career, Karl discovered a latent interest in teaching and education. From this point, his direction was clear: he would share his passion for science with others as an educator. Nevertheless, Karl’s path to Boston University’s School of Education proved anything but direct, and included graduate study in physics, two trips to Antarctica, and several years’ research in the realm of space plasma physics. During this time, Karl’s experiences as a teaching assistant, science camp instructor, and GK–12 fellow (involved with outreach teaching in local schools) served to reinforce his conviction that the science classroom was where he belonged.

In particular, I believe in the importance and necessity of a strong system for public education (my own upbringing K–12). Through its long history of partnerships with many Boston-area school districts, BU’s School of Education has demonstrated a commitment to advocating for universal and equitable educational access for all students. This was a community I wanted to be a part of!