Geneseo celebrates the sciences with students and alumni

On Friday, Sept. 24 the Integrated Science Center hosted "Celebrating the Sciences," a program that invited distinguished Geneseo alumni from various science backgrounds to speak with current students and faculty.

The day featured a tour of the Integrated Science Building, alumni discussion panels and demonstrations, and the highlight keynote address from Norman Neureiter.

Neureiter is the director of the American Association for the Advancement of Science for Science, Technology and Security Policy in Washington, D.C. He oversees an effort to build connections between scientists, research institutions and the federal policymakers involved in national security issues. Neureiter described himself as "an international science diplomat."

Neureiter's speech, "Reflections on Science and Science Policy," focused on how the policies of the United States affect scientific development. "The strength of American scientific technology and innovation is based on policies," Neureiter said.

He said that in 2010, the U.S. government allocated $150 billion toward research and development. In this challenging fiscal environment, Congress continues to debate and change the research and development budget. Neureiter said that continued scientific research is the "prime instrument in maintaining U.S. global dominance in the future."

"As an international science diplomat it is important to build neutral, beneficial relationships with countries," Neureiter said. He noted that the U.S. is no longer as dominant in scientific progression as it used to be because other nations like China, India and Russia are offering students and professors more attractive positions. Neureiter said that for America to continue its dominance in the sciences, it is crucial for more students to become interested in science.

The Celebrating the Sciences program also hosted panel discussions for students with alumni from across the biology, chemistry, geology and physics disciplines. A number of alumni spoke about their education, current jobs and how Geneseo's science programs influenced their lives. Biology alumnus Mark Bookhout '75 spoke about his experience as one of the first to enter the field of physical therapy. "It's not like work," he said. "If you have such a passion for something, it's hard to put it down. Geneseo gave me the science background to pursue that passion."

Biology professor Robert O'Donnell said that the Celebrating the Sciences program was designed to show students various career choices and paths.

"It puts it into context why they're learning what they're learning," he said. O'Donnell said he believes that the program "shows our undergraduates the accomplishments of alumni and allows them to see what's out there if they persevere and are successful."