Obama Rewards “Terching”

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Julio Ramirez receives Presidential recognition

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By John Syme

Julio J. Ramirez has been named by President Barack Obama as a recipient of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring. Ramirez, the Dickson Professor of Psychology at Davidson, is one of 11 people nationally to receive the honor.

“It’s a reflection that what my colleagues are doing, here at Davidson and across the country, is important, to make sure our students have the best education possible,” Ramirez said after his visit to the White House. He said the president was enthusiastic about the awards in light of the points he had made two days before in his State of the Union address.

The awards recognize teachers and institutions who have provided broad opportunities for participation by women, minorities, and people with disabilities in science, math, and engineering. In 2004 the National Science Foundation awarded Ramirez its top teaching and research honor, the Director’s Award for Distinguished Teaching Scholars. He used the $305,000 grant to establish a national mentoring program for underrepresented groups in the neurosciences. The program is now supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Ramirez has been widely honored over the years for promoting “terching”—teaching students by involving them in meaningful research projects. He has mentored scores of them as colleagues, investigating recovery of memory function through neuronal sprouting following brain injury. That research might yield insight into means of helping humans avoid, or recover from, Alzheimer’s disease.

“The more we learn about the nervous system, the more insight we have into how we as human beings do our thing, this civilization we’ve created around us,” said Ramirez.

Photo Courtesy of the White House

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