Outstanding Teachers: For Science Majors, Mentoring Makes the Difference at PRISM

April 28, 2013 | Salute to Scholars, The University

Great Teaching is at the heart of a great university. Nine University professors featured here have received special acclaim for their instructional acumen from Carnegie Foundation, Presidential and Chancellor awards to recognition by The Princeton Review. Their classroom magic inspires students and prepares them for the future.

Anthony Carpi - Professor of Environmental Toxicology - John Jay

Anthony Carpi – Professor of Environmental Toxicology – John Jay

ANTHONY CARPI, professor of environmental toxicology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, hasn’t been teaching much since he was tapped to be the Interim Associate Provost for the Advancement of Research last year, but he finds other ways to work with students.

“I’m really enjoying the position, enjoying helping build research infrastructure for students and faculty and getting grants and producing scholarship,” says Carpi.

He’s also mentoring three undergraduate students who are part of PRISM (Program for Research Initiatives for Science Majors) at John Jay, which helps all students, particularly underrepresented minorities and women, work toward careers in science, technology, engineering and math.

Carpi has been co-director of PRISM since it began in 2006. As a result of the program, several students a year now move on to graduate-level programs – five times the number who were doing so in the 1990s.

In 2011, Carpi was one of only 11 people in the United States to win the prestigious Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring. Other than making Carpi a campus celebrity, the award brought prestige to PRISM.

“The award made me more conscious of the significance of the work we’re doing at PRISM,” says Carpi, who met President Barack Obama at the White House and received a $10,000 grant for student stipends for undergraduate research. “I always thought that we were doing good work preparing students for graduate school, expanding the population of minorities getting Ph.D.s, but the award also helped other schools recognize our program.”

Since receiving the award, Carpi and colleagues have reached out to graduate schools at NYU, Harvard and Columbia to facilitate application and admission for John Jay students.

“The relationship we’re developing with Harvard, specifically, is based on the fact that I won the award and that the chair of the department of epidemiology in the School of Public Health also won the award,” says Carpi. “Hopefully John Jay will be a major feeder school to their program.”

– Cathy Rainone