Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Home / Profile / Elizabeth Brauer:
Links that foster science education

Elizabeth Brauer:
Links that foster science education

Standing amid blue plastic tubs filled with empty glass jars, Elizabeth Brauer pulls a twisted coat hanger from a nearby shelf and balances it on her head. In demonstrating the center of gravity, Brauer’s goofy enthusiasm is infectious. Coat hangers, baby-food jars, rubber bands–she clearly delights in “science from the junk drawer.”
But as coordinator for Science Linkages in the Community, her mission is serious business: to interweave Rochester’s resources to support science, mathematics and technology education.
“You do a lot with your fingers when you talk about this program,” Brauer laughs, entwining her fingers as she describes the goal of Science Linkages.
Science Linkages is an initiative of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Thirty cities applied to participate in the four-year pilot program, funded by a $3.6 million grant from the Dewitt Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fund. Rochester, Chicago and Rapid City, S.D., were the three cities chosen to launch the pilot in September 1993.
Rochester got the nod because of its existing enthusiasm and infrastructure for science education, Brauer says. Science Linkages adds an out-of-school component, working with community-based organizations such as the Urban League of Rochester Inc., Camp Fire Inc., Rochester-Monroe County Council and other groups that serve Rochester’s youth.
“Science Linkages is doing things for community groups so that they then can provide science, math and technology programming for the children of Rochester,” Brauer explains.
“I tell everybody that it’s not exactly the grass roots, but we keep trying to get the lawn mower set lower, you know? So it really belongs to the people of Rochester, and does what they want it to do.”
Brauer, 50, was hired by AAAS to coordinate the effort here, but she answers to a planning council that calls the shots. The council is fluid–participation is open to anyone with an interest in supporting science education. Roughly 70 people are active members, representing more than 100 community organizations in Rochester.
The council throws out raw ideas, says Patricia McGowan, a planning committee member and coordinator for the Urban League’s Comprehensive Employment Opportunity Support Center.
“Betsy makes sense of all that, pulls the ideas into focus and implements them,” she adds. “I believe that without Betsy things would not have happened with Science Linkages as quickly as they have.”
The mission of Science Linkages, as defined by the planning council, is to create a management structure so that all the resources for science, math and technology education in Rochester can operate as one.
“That’s a big, tall order,” Brauer acknowledges, “and yet you keep it out there in front of you, a vision. Is it possible to locate, identify and put in communication with one another all of those resources for science, math and technology so we can really take best advantage of the resources we have here?
“The answer is that I’m very hopeful.”
So is Kenneth Goode, director of the Monroe County Office of Government and Community Affairs, and a member of Science Linkages’ steering committee, which acts as an advisory board for the program.
“Weaving this tapestry is quite a challenge,” Goode says. “Betsy is up to it. I think she’s done a laudable job.”
Science Linkages already boasts tangible results.
Information sharing was a top priority; Brauer maintains a computer data base that now lists some 80 programs and organizations in Rochester supporting science, math and technology. If someone wants to know what summer programs are available for preteens in an outdoor environment, for example, Brauer queries the data base to find programs matching those requirements.
Last year, Science Linkages also funded more than a dozen projects in Rochester, touching nearly 800 students in the area.
At Baden Street Settlement, more than 200 youngsters received computer training with the help of a Science Linkages grant. Science Linkages also funded a hands-on science education program for urban children–the series of seven weekly lessons included sessions on water pollution and paper making.
Another Science Linkages project, called Learn and Serve America, is gearing up now. This program, managed by Helen Hightower, will train 100 teenage volunteers to teach hands-on science to younger children.
These programs target children who traditionally are underrepresented in science–girls, minorities, children with disabilities. Yet Science Linkages does not intend to push these children into science careers, Brauer notes.
“The definition I like best of what science is is the application of human intelligence to figuring out how the world works,” she says. “And to me, that’s what’s exciting about science and what we want to convey–we’re all scientists, and we intersect science every day. It’s not something dusty and dry and intimidating.”
Though she clearly savors the science, Brauer must deal with less-inspiring issues, like the major hitch of transportation. Yet even this topic fires passion, as she describes how she envisions the future.
“I see a science bus in Rochester every afternoon,” she says, “shuttling kids either from after-school programs home, or from school or a neighborhood site to the George Eastman House or the zoo or a fossil dig, so that a simple mechanical thing doesn’t become the hang-up in expanding the potential to expose kids to the excitement of science.”
Brauer says she always has been drawn to the wonders of science. Born in Washington, D.C., Brauer spent most of her childhood in the countryside near Portland, Ore. Her father worked as a civil engineer; her mother, a trained scientist, served on various boards and commissions, including the Oregon State Board of Education.
“People tease me about the apple that falls not too far from the tree,” Brauer laughs, noting that her elder sister also is a scientist.
Brauer attended Pomona College near Los Angeles, earning a bachelor’s degree in zoology in 1966. She attended graduate school in zoology at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, where she met her husband, Gary Brauer.
With a doctorate in hand by 1971, Brauer took a postdoctoral position in biochemistry, also at the University of Wisconsin. The move to Rochester came in 1975, when Brauer’s husband landed a job at Eastman Kodak Co.
“Rochester had enough colleges that I figured I’d get a job sooner or later, and did,” Brauer says.
In 1976, Brauer joined the faculty at SUNY College at Geneseo as an assistant professor of biology. As the only female faculty member in the science department, she became a mentor to many of her female students.
“It was interesting to begin to examine the decisions I had made relative to questions these young women were asking, such as how does one design a life in which career and family are compatible,” Brauer says.
When her daughter, Julia, was born in 1979, Brauer resigned from SUNY Geneseo. Son Neil was born four years later.
“I retired into motherhood,” Brauer says. “I found the two roles sufficiently incompatible.
“Two things you love so much–it’s tough. Yet I did make the decision, and I’d never make it differently, that this was the one chance I had to watch small children grow, that I could go back to being a professional later on, which is exactly what I’ve done.”
When Neil was three, Brauer began picking up part-time jobs that flexed her experience in science and education. She developed a community-based water-quality program for a local non-profit environmental lab, and wrote an environmental assessment for the Livingston County Board of Health.
In 1992, Brauer took a full-time position with A&C Enercom Inc., a utilities consulting firm. There she worked on an energy and environmental conservation program that Rochester Gas and Electric Corp. was developing for local schools.
Her current position has allowed Brauer to fulfill a lifetime fantasy of working for the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Funding for Science Linkages is assured through 1997. To continue beyond that point, the program must gain financial support at the local level.
The transition already has begun. In its first year, Science Linkages was administered through the AAAS office in Washington, D.C. Now, the Rochester Museum and Science Center serves as a host organization, providing an office for Brauer and handling the project’s funds.
Science Linkages receives $125,000 this year, and an additional $54,000 for the Learn and Serve America program.
Though Brauer tempers her enthusiasm with a scientist’s caution, she predicts that Science Linkages in five years will be the premier organization for advocating science, math and technology in Rochester.
Says Brauer: “It’s the most gratifying thing, to realize that simply because our office is here and we’re doing this, that a lot of connections are being made.”

x

Check Also

Loyalty programs – what you should know about compliance with the CPPA (access required)

From the straightforward “buy 9 smoothies, get 1 free,” to sophisticated frequent flyer programs, loyalty programs are a staple in ...

PathStone’s Skyview Park Apartments a model for big-box adaptive reuse (access required)

When Amy Casciani looked at the shuttered remnants of retail vitality on the former Irondequoit Mall complex a few years ...

Are cover letters really necessary? Hiring professionals have differing opinions (access required)

“I’m a hiring manager at a local company looking to fill several positions. I’ve noticed that about two-thirds of our ...

Investment acumen or inside information? (access required)

If you had known, in early 2020, that you might be working from home during a multi-year, global pandemic, would ...

Opining on Dick Vitale’s courage, more Bills nicknames, stadium names

By the time he finished delivering a motivational speech that would have made Knute Rockne proud, Dick Vitale looked like ...

The importance of female mentorship, leadership, and innovation in banking (access required)

In my 10 years at Tompkins and 35 cumulative years in the banking field, I’ve witnessed the industry undergo several ...

How not to set policy to reduce the price of gasoline (access required)

High gas prices in the U.S. cause a lot of pain for Americans every time they take their vehicles to ...

Highland Hospital Gala (access required)

This year’s casino-themed Highland Hospital Gala raised its second highest amount ever, with more than $650,000 gross net income thanks ...

Inflation: How did we get here and what can be done about it? (access required)

If you’re in your 50s - o.k. early 50s - you probably remember a time when a gallon of gas ...

Reflections on pediatrics, the pandemic, and the Golden Circle (access required)

Imagine this: Your business has been open for only five months and is doing really well. Revenue is higher than ...

Will 2022 be the year of the vacation home? (access required)

With some COVID-19 restrictions relaxing and others already lifted, the smell of tourism is in the air. Demand for leisure ...

Transition services valuable for aging population (access required)

What do you need to stay safe in your family home, even if your home is getting to be too ...

Elder transition planning: Family mediation for older adults & their loved ones (access required)

The journey of aging is rarely a smooth one. As older adults and their families face emotional, financial and health ...

Senior living communities consider how to be more diverse, inclusive, accessible (access required)

The nation’s senior population is the largest and most diverse in history, according to the most recent census data from ...

Why is inflation so scary for my retirement plan? (access required)

Over the past decade, investors experienced a best-case scenario of relatively low inflation and strong investment returns from both stocks ...

A thoroughbred racehorse whose impact was not lost on us

It seemed like a good deal at the time – a rattletrap Ford van with more than 100,000 miles on ...

Ensuring your financial plan can withstand negative conditions  (access required)

Financial plans differ based on individuals’ incomes, future goals, age and tolerance for risk, but often unconsidered in those plans ...

Boomerang employees: tips on how to welcome team members home (access required)

Every manager at every level has experienced it — that awful feeling in the pit of your stomach when one ...

Spring cleaning: Considering program sustainability (access required)

There has never been a better time to consider the sustainability of your program activities and take action to address ...

Financial advisors can guide through tough times (access required)

With the country facing rising inflation and interest rates, as well as the lingering COVID-19 pandemic and the war in ...

Are you discriminating against employees with caregiving responsibilities? (access required)

As the world enters year three of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) has issued a warning ...

Rochester accelerates its pace to become top tech hub in America (access required)

Rochester is on its way to becoming a national hub for technology innovation. Experts predict that it has the highest ...

A simple game for investors: How would you play? (access required)

Some years ago, financial author and advisor, Bill Schultheis, devised a simple game to illustrate the difficulty faced by investors ...

You need to improve your technology, but where do you start? (access required)

Technology is advancing at warp speed and certainly some innovations could benefit you and your company, but it’s easy to ...

Innovation advancements on display as Rochester continues to grow its technology ecosystem (access required)

From LIDROTEC, a company with patent-pending wafer dicing laser machines for the semiconductor industry to Stratio, which provides artificial intelligence ...

Milo the Dog has had a golden impact on Red Wings baseball, community

They had trained together five days a week for nearly six months in the backyard solitude of Josh Snyder’s rural ...

M&A middle-market activity: What businesses need to know (access required)

 Understanding the ins and outs, trends and activities going on in M&A markets can help businesses make informed decisions including ...

5 things to consider before deciding to work for yourself (access required)

When people ask me what I do, now that I’m out of television, I simply say, “I have my own ...

M&A lawyers keep busy despite pandemic barriers (access required)

2021 was a record-breaking year globally and nationally for mergers (combining two separate businesses into one new legal entity) and ...

Ending violent crime requires building trust between police, community (access required)

Rochester has recently been the recipient of many state, federal and private investments that create a true path for transformational ...

Former UR assistant Jay Wright continues working his hoops magic

Mike Neer likes to joke that he doesn’t get enough credit for helping Jay Wright become the best-dressed coach in ...

Four ways to prepare your business for the future of digital payments (access required)

Digital transformation continues to sweep the country — especially as more companies and their customers embrace digital payment technologies.Here are ...

Managing Our Manufacturing Plants in 2022 (access required)

There have been dramatic shifts in both the needs and the realities of manufacturing the United States over the past ...

“Rounding Errors” Can Add Up Quickly (access required)

It’s time to talk about time. For many employees, their lunch break is a time when they can step away ...

Just In Time production method becoming obsolete with supply chain issues (access required)

Just In Time (JIT) is a production method pioneered in the 1930s by Toyota Motor Corporation as a means to ...

Rochester firms embrace 3D printing for multiple purposes (access required)

Firms are using 3D printing to create unique tools, parts and other objects right here in Rochester, allowing for new ...

From mentee to mentor: the benefits mentorship provides for women in business (access required)

March marks Women’s History Month. It is a time to honor the strong, brave women who have broken down barriers, ...

Working across the ages: multigenerational teams offer multiple benefits (access required)

Quick: How long is the average career? If you guessed 40 years, you would’ve been right a few years ago. ...

Energy, dedication drive entrepreneurs at any age (access required)

Younger women who grew up with technology and worked in the gig economy may be more comfortable with the pace ...

Opining on Brandon Beane, SU hoops, a poor investment, baseball’s return

If you pressed me to rank the most indispensable Buffalo Bills of this glorious era, I’d go with quarterback Josh ...

Topics that don’t focus on COVID-19 for nonprofit leaders (access required)

For obvious reasons, COVID-19-19 and the many elements of disruption it has caused continue to dominate conversation at organizations of ...

March worldwide water, climate events are close to home (access required)

March marks two worldwide awareness events for the environment: World Water Day and Earth Hour. In Rochester, New York, these ...

Revisiting Art Schlichter’s sad tale of gambling addiction

Monday’s seismic news that Atlanta Falcons star receiver Calvin Ridley had been suspended for the 2022 season for betting on ...

Mentoring is an art passed from one generation to the next (access required)

Ahhh, what to say about the important art of mentoring? It is certainly an art and, in preparation for this ...

Protect intellectual property from the start (access required)

When it comes to intellectual property (IP), the old English idiom “penny wise and pound foolish” never goes out of ...

A loving team helped Chris Lillis ascend to Winter Olympic gold

Bernie Lillis points with pride to a framed photograph on the mantelpiece above the fireplace of his Fairport home. There ...

Three takeaways from Super Bowl ads to apply to marketing (access required)

Super Bowl ads deliver on a few recurring themes every year, and this year was no different. Whether it’s nostalgia ...

I Bonds: A rare bright spot for the income investor (access required)

Investors have a natural affinity for income-producing investments. A steady stream of investment income is comforting even if it is ...

What AG report on ‘credential stuffing’ hacks mean for your business (access required)

In January, New York Attorney General Letitia James released a report summarizing the findings of a broad investigation into so-called ...

Data privacy and security concerns with rise of online betting, gaming (access required)

As of January 8, 2022, New York State joined the ranks of more than a dozen states that have legalized ...

Potential headwinds are coming — what this means for your business (access required)

An abundance of liquidity and market exuberance in the world’s recovery from COVID-19 have made this a promising time for ...

Rochester’s Roland Williams hoping his Rams do it again

Eric Weddle is one of those feel-good stories that Rochester tight-end-turned-broadcaster Roland Williams has followed closely in recent weeks. Late ...

Two UR student-led ventures take top honors at statewide intercollegiate entrepreneurship competition  (access required)

The New York Business Plan Competition announced its 2022 Grand Prize winner, along with special prize winners at Venture NY, ...

Bello: Investment in tech, people, parks key for county future (access required)

Creating a vibrant and equitable Monroe County as a great place to live, work and raise a family can be ...

Evans’ budget prioritizes public safety, neighborhoods, economy (access required)

 The proposed city of Rochester budget includes a 9.6 percent increase in spending — with public safety, neighborhoods and economic ...