Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's Joanna Albala was recently named the STEM Advocate of the Year by the Executive Council of the North Central Valley STEM Center (NCVSC), for going above and beyond in creating opportunities for students.
The Executive Council of the NCVSC, which meets out of the San Joaquin County Office of Education in Stockton, honored Albala at its annual recognition dinner.
Albala, who serves as the education outreach manager in the University Relations and Science Education Program at Lawrence Livermore, is a member of the executive board and was taken by surprise when Bret States, chair of the executive committee, presented her with the award.
"I sit on the executive council and I had no idea that there was an award of this type or that I had been nominated," Albala said. "My colleagues kept it all a surprise to me."
Fellow NCVSC board member Michael Cardenas nominated Albala for the award. "I just saw how busy she was and how involved she was in so many different STEM areas," Cardenas said. "I nominated her but it still required the other board members to concur. The decision was unanimous."
Albala also received a plaque and Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition from the office of U.S. Congressmen Jerry McNerney.
"It is an honor to be recognized for one's efforts by one's peers and it was especially touching to receive the certificate signed by Jerry McNerney," Albala said.
Albala began her career as a scientist, and over the years has served as an adjunct professor. In her current role as the education outreach manager, she has been able to share her passion for science, learning and teaching to bridge the gap between students and teachers, bringing STEM education to the masses through various educational outreach programs.
"Joanna has worked tirelessly to provide robust field trip experiences for students at LLNL, plus managing the Science on Saturday, Science on Screen and Teacher Research Academies," States said. "Many students, parents and educators are benefiting from Joanna's efforts."
"I take pride in developing programs that ultimately impact students in the greater regional community, Tri-Valley and Central Valley," Albala said.
As an ardent promoter of STEM education, Albala advises students interested in pursuing STEM is to "just go for it," she said. "Take workshops, look for opportunities to work in labs, don't be afraid to ask questions and seek out science."
Visit the LLNL Science Education Program website for more detailed information about these programs.