Professor R. David Bynum, founding director of the Center for Science and Mathematics Education (CESAME) at Stony Brook University, received a 2014 Public Service Award from the Suffolk County Martin Luther King Jr. Commission at its Annual Awards Luncheon at the Hyatt Regency Wind Watch in Hauppauge on January 17.
Bynum, a professor of Biochemistry and Cell Biology at Stony Brook, received this honor for more than 20 years of dedication, innovation, entrepreneurship and support of programs to increase diversity in education. CESAME has awarded more than $5,000,000 in fellowships to undergraduates, graduate students and teachers working in high-needs schools.
In 1993 Bynum received a National Institutes of Health (NIH) award to provide summer research opportunities for underrepresented community college students. The next year he obtained grant support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and created new biology courses, research fellowships for undergraduates and partnerships with high-needs school districts. In 1997 he again received an NIH grant to support underrepresented students who wished to obtain a doctoral degree and carry out research. All of these programs are still funded and have awarded more than $2 million in scholarships to students. With NSF support he formed the Long Island Group Advancing Science Education (LIGASE) as an umbrella organization for these activities.
These initiatives led University leadership to place the science education programs in LIGASE in 2004. These include the Master’s degree in Teaching (MAT) and BA-BS/MAT programs in Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Earth Sciences. In 2007 the educational components of the Mathematics Department were added and CESAME was formed. CESAME faculty members have received more than $1 million in external funding to support students who want to teach in New York City and in high-needs school districts on Long Island.
In 2010 the CESAME doctoral program in Science Education was approved by New York State and has 35 matriculating students. CESAME now works with all science departments at Stony Brook and offers courses, programs, competitions and degree offerings ranging from elementary to the post-doctoral and faculty levels. CESAME is a comprehensive Center, integrated into the University, and leading in the way in science and mathematics education.
Daphne King, principal of Central Islip High School, nominated Professor Bynum for the award. He was among eight other recipients honored by the Commission, which is dedicated to achieving social justice through education, advocacy and training.