Diekmans Endow Fellowship for Science Teachers

By Mika Ono

Chairman of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) Board of Directors John Diekman and his wife Susan Diekman have given the institute $100,000 to endow a summer fellowship for science teachers, the first gift ever made to TSRI for this purpose. The gift ensures that at least one high school or middle school teacher participates in a Science Outreach Program internship every summer in perpetuity.

"This is a fabulous gift that will help close the gap between the cutting-edge science in modern laboratories and the curriculum taught in classrooms," says Jeffery Kelly, vice president for academic affairs and dean of graduate studies. "We couldn't be more pleased."

Denise M. Scalzo, director of Development, who worked with the Diekmans to realize this gift, comments, "A contribution of this nature from John as chairman of the TSRI Board and Susan shows their leadership and commitment to the science at TSRI and to our community."

Robin Goldsmith, vice president of Communications and director of the Science Outreach Program, adds, "We're grateful to the Diekmans for providing this opportunity for high school and middle school teachers to learn modern laboratory techniques. The experience at TSRI can make a real difference in the quality of education these teachers provide. They return to their classrooms invigorated and inspired—with a new set of tools to teach their students about science."

TSRI's Science Outreach Program was started 12 years ago to promote and improve science literacy, enhance science teachers' professional development, and inspire students to pursue careers in the life sciences. In recognition of the shift towards a multiracial, multiethnic society, TSRI encourages students and teachers from gender and ethnic groups traditionally underrepresented in the sciences to attend its programs.

John Diekman, who is managing director of Bay City Capital, a life sciences investment firm, notes that the gift reflects his high esteem for TSRI—which he calls "one of the best centers for biology and chemistry in the world"—as well as his appreciation for the pivotal role that teachers can play in young people's lives.

"When I was in high school, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do," he recalls. "An inspiring teacher convinced me to pursue chemistry." John Diekman went on to earn an A.B. in chemistry from Princeton University and a Ph.D. in chemistry from Stanford University—a prelude to a highly successful career in the biotech industry.

Susan Diekman, who is former executive director of the Airtouch Communications Foundation, adds that TSRI's Science Outreach Program and Goldsmith's enthusiastic leadership of it were important factors in their decision to endow the fellowship. "TSRI is an incredible resource for the community. This program links the TSRI scientists with the scientists of the future through their teachers. I hope our gift will inspire others to help insure that the Science Outreach Program endures."

The first Diekman fellow, who will be arriving at TSRI on June 25, is Erik Janeke, a teacher at Mt. Miguel High School in Spring Valley. Janeke hopes the internship will help him find ways to bring more laboratory-based curriculum into his classroom, especially in the areas of cell biology, chemistry, and molecular biology.

Janeke also hopes the internship will help him further develop his skills as a laboratory biologist, building on his experience performing nutrient assays and other tests as a master's student in ecology at San Diego State University and his experience collecting data at the San Diego Zoo.

"I am grateful for this tremendous opportunity to do what I love to do and to expand the real-life science that I can bring back to my students," Janeke says. "I can hardly wait to get started."



John and Susan Diekman have given $100,000 to endow a summer fellowship for teachers. This gift is the first of its kind to TSRI.