Catherine Paolucci, assistant professor of mathematics and secondary education at SUNY New Paltz, has been awarded the American Mathematical Society (AMS) Congressional Fellowship for the 2016-17 term. She becomes the first SUNY New Paltz faculty member to be named a Congressional Fellow in any academic discipline.
This prestigious AMS Congressional Fellowship is awarded to just one candidate each year. Fellows work on the staff of a member of Congress or a congressional committee as a special legislative assistant in policy areas requiring scientific and technical input, bringing disciplinary expertise to the decision making process in Washington and gaining a unique public policy learning experience.
It remains to be decided what kind of project Paolucci will work on, but given the strong national imperative to expand and improve STEM education across all levels, she anticipates drawing equally on her knowledge of mathematics and education.
“There are a lot of areas in which STEM education could be addressed,” Paolucci said. “One example is balancing gaps in STEM fields, promoting STEM education among young girls and among underserved and underrepresented groups. I’ve been working on research related to that, and have found that initiatives that create opportunities in STEM for those communities can really make a difference.”
The Fellowship will support Paolucci’s relocation to the Washington, D.C. area for one year, as well as travel to professional development conferences and other educational programs designed to prepare her for work within the legislative process.
Paolucci’s selection as AMS Congressional Fellow marks the first time the organization has chosen someone with a joint mathematics/education background. The award is typically reserved for scholars working exclusively in math; though she has a strong record of working and teaching in mathematics content, Paolucci’s doctorate degree is in mathematics education, which has been true of no previous AMS Fellow.
“I felt this program was something I could make a meaningful contribution to, in spite of the fact that my background sets me apart from typical AMS Fellows,” Paolucci said. “The demand is very strong right now for someone who can bring a background in STEM education, and I think the AMS realizes that.”
The AMS is one of many disciplinary organizations that sponsor Congressional Fellows administered by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). More information about the AMS Congressional Fellowship can be accessed online.