If the United States is to remain competitive with the rest of the world in science and math, it is critically important to persuade children by third or fourth grade that they can succeed in these subject areas, says Sylvia Oliver.

Thanks to her efforts, youngsters—particularly those from underserved populations—are receiving better preparation in math and science, opening doors to careers in fields such as biosciences and engineering.

Dr. Oliver is achieving results through WSU Spokane CityLab, a program she directs that prepares high-need elementary and secondary students in math and science through participation in after-school programs, summer science camps, and all-day workshops in areas like biotechnology. The approach provides students access they otherwise would not have to technology, equipment, and expert teachers who are trained in these technical areas.

Dr. Oliver uses inquiry-based or hands-on teaching methods to enhance math and science education so the students are prepared for college, especially for educational tracks that could lead them to careers in science, math, and biotechnology.

CityLab also has received funding to pursue systemic change through community college teacher-training programs in these critical educational areas. According to Dr. Oliver, CityLab will focus on developing these programs and professional development workshops because educating and exciting teachers in these areas means reaching phenomenal numbers of students.

Featuring: Sylvia Oliver, Ph.D.

Dr. Oliver received her doctorate in genetics and cell biology from Washington State University and conducted research on the early stages of breast cancer prior to her appointment as director of laboratory operations on the WSU Spokane campus. Currently, she is assistant director of the Health Research and Education Center (HREC) at WSU Spokane; an adjunct faculty member in the Science Mathematics Engineering Education Center (SMEEC) at WSU Pullman; and director of WSU Spokane CityLab.

Dr. Oliver is also co-founder of a biotechnology company, Bio-OriGyn, which develops biomedical products to enhance cell function. She holds seven patents through the company.