Roane State professor hopes to inspire girls through undersea classroom

Jessica Fain Diving

Jessica Fain emerges in the moon pool inside Jules’ Undersea Lodge, the location for Classroom Under the Sea. (Photo courtesy Roane State Community College)


The National Science Board’s 2014 Science and Engineering Indicators report contains an all-too-familiar statistic.

Women account for only 28 percent of the workforce in science and engineering jobs. Elementary schools, high schools, colleges, and universities around the country have designed initiatives to boost that number.

Roane State adjunct professor Jessica Fain wants to do her part, and she’s willing to live underwater for 72 days to show that science is cool, for boys and for girls.

“I definitely see those social barriers for girls interested in science,” Fain said. “They don’t want to be labeled as the nerd. We still have this stigma of wanting to be the popular girl and not wanting to be the science geek. I want them to see that it is OK to be the smart, nerdy girl.”

Fain, who has a bachelor’s degree in biology and teaches biology labs for Roane State, will participate in Classroom Under the Sea, a joint project between Roane State and the Marine Resources Development Foundation in Key Largo, Florida. Along with Roane State biology professor Bruce Cantrell, Fain will live and work in an underwater habitat for 72 days this fall (October 4-December 15). [Read more...]

Register for ORICL courses and trips by Aug. 27; semester starts Sept. 22


Decorative Barn ORICL

ORICL members visit this barn on the Appalachian Quilt Trail. (Submitted photos)


How would you like to see 10 award-winning films from 10 countries? Find information on your ancestors on the Internet? Learn about female Pharaohs in ancient Egypt?

Better understand tax law changes, Medicare, long-term care services, and investment fundamentals? Get a new perspective on Jesus, the Trinity, and the Quakers? Learn to analyze dreams and play better bridge?

You can take courses on any of these and other topics by registering for the fall semester of the Oak Ridge Institute for Continued Learning, or ORICL.

The early registration deadline is Aug. 27 for the fall semester, which starts Sept. 22 and ends Dec. 12. Members should register by Aug. 27 to have the best chance of getting preferred classes and trips. [Read more...]

Second annual Wildcat Day to feature pep rally, pizza, fireworks

Wildcat Day 2014

The second annual Wildcat Day on Saturday, August 23, will feature a pep rally, free pizza and hot dogs, and fireworks, a press release said.

The 2014 Oak Ridge High School football squad will also be introduced.

Wildcat Day starts at 7 p.m. August 23 at Ben Martin Track at Oak Ridge High School. It’s been organized by members of the Oak Ridge Quarterback Club.

“Although the planning window is short, the organizers hope to recreate the success of last year’s community pep rally that drew over 3,000 Wildcat fans,” said Len Hart, president of the Quarterback Club. “The Quarterback Club has been busy this summer with fundraising efforts, including the recent success with the Temptations concert. We just wrote a check to complete the grading and reseeding of the bank at Blankenship’s north end zone. Before we knew it, Wildcat Day was upon us—something Coach Gaddis assured us he wanted to do the week before the first football game.” [Read more...]

Mahathy running for Oak Ridge school board

Mike Mahathy Campaign Photo

Mike Mahathy, left, a candidate for Oak Ridge Board of Education, is pictured with his family. (Submitted photo)

Mike Mahathy, who has served on two school-related councils, is running for Oak Ridge Board of Education.

It wasn’t an easy decision, Mahathy said in a press release.

“I labored over it for weeks, as I am not a politician,” said Mahathy, a health physicist at ORAU. “I’m just a citizen, a husband, a father, yet that is why I decided to run, for my children and more importantly for yours.

“When I leave this life, I hope that it can be said that Mike Mahathy made a difference for children, at least in a little way.”

The press release said Mahathy co-founded a charity that provides assistance to orphans of the Yunnan Province, China. And he now serves as volunteer Caring Kids Coordinator for another adoption, helping with daily life needs, education, and transitioning to adult life. Mahathy also assists in a children’s ministry at his church.

Mahathy said he served as an officer on the Oak Ridge Preschool advisory council in 2005 and 2006, and he has served on the Oak Ridge Schools superintendent’s PTA/PTO council since 2005. In addition, he helps, as his time allows, the parent-teacher organizations at his daughters’ schools. [Read more...]

Paine running for Oak Ridge school board

Laurie Paine

Laurie Paine

Laurie Paine, who led the recent protests to restore bus transportation to students, has announced she is running for the Oak Ridge Board of Education.

Paine said she is running because she wants children to be the top priority in the community.

“I am the proud mother of three children currently in the Oak Ridge school system: Kaitlan, Tyler, and Tristan,” Paine said in a press release. “My daughter Alexis recently graduated from Oak Ridge High School and is now attending the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga.”

Paine said she has lived in Oak Ridge for 26 years and has witnessed many changes, “some good and some bad. It’s time for change again and that change needs to start at the top with the leadership on the Board of Education.”

In her campaign and as an elected representative, Paine said she will continue pursuing the following: [Read more...]

Thursday deadline to qualify for municipal elections across Anderson County

Vote Logo

Thursday is the deadline to qualify for municipal elections across Anderson County, and so far, there appears to be a mix of incumbents and newcomers in Oak Ridge, Clinton, Rocky Top (Lake City), Norris, and Oliver Springs.

Eleven people, including the four incumbents, have expressed an interest in running for four seats on Oak Ridge City Council in November, and seven candidates have qualified so far.

Meanwhile, three people, including one incumbent, have qualified to run for three seats on the Oak Ridge Board of Education. A total of nine potential candidates, including the three who have qualified, have picked up petitions to run for Oak Ridge school board.

The November 4 election is the last in a series of three elections this year. The deadline to qualify is noon Thursday, August 21. A candidate needs 25 verified signatures on a nomination petition to qualify.

Those who have qualified to run for Oak Ridge City Council are: [Read more...]

Eby seeks re-election to school board

Bob Eby

Bob Eby

Bob Eby has qualified to run for re-election in November for the Oak Ridge Board of Education.

Eby, who is now the board’s vice chairman, is seeking his fourth term, having first been elected in 1985, again in 1991, and most recently in 2009. This is the first time Eby has run as an incumbent.

Eby was board chairman for two terms between 1991-1995, a press release said. Eby is a product of the Oak Ridge Schools (class of 1970), as is his wife of 40 years, Jean (class of 1971), his daughter Elizabeth (1998), and son William (2001).

Jean Eby is a retired teacher from the Oak Ridge Schools, having taught band, music, and third and fourth grade in the district for more than 30 years, the press release said. Most of her teaching career was at Linden Elementary School.

Bob Eby is the director for technology and process engineering for USEC Inc., and he also serves as Oak Ridge site manager for the company. He has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemical engineering from the University of Tennessee and completed The Executive Program from the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia. He is active in the business community, currently serving on the board of directors for the Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce, the East Tennessee Economic Council, and the KFI, an organization dedicated for the benefit of the Ronald McDonald House in Knoxville. [Read more...]

ORHS first high school in nation to test STEM Scouts

Oak Ridge High School

Oak Ridge High School is pictured above.

Great Smoky Mountain Council of BSA launches STEM program

KNOXVILLE—The Great Smoky Mountain Council of the Boy Scouts of America has been granted permission by the National Executive Board to test a proof of concept called STEM Scouts (science, technology, engineering, and math), which for now, is only open to East Tennessee youth.

The program shows youth from elementary through high school how to apply STEM in their everyday lives and encourages them to develop those experiences into a future career. The program uses the Scout Oath and Scout Law as its cornerstone.

The STEM Scouts are split into three divisions: elementary school (third through fifth grade), middle school (sixth through eighth grade), and high school (ninth through 12th grade). A successful proof of concept could have nationwide implications as the BSA gets boys and girls excited about STEM.

“Specialized programs are not new to the Boy Scouts,” said Michael Ramsey, BSA marketing director. “In fact, the concept dates back as early as 1913 with the creation of Sea Scouting. We’re optimistic this will take off and have positive outcomes for youth everywhere.” [Read more...]

UCOR donates $50,000 for UT faculty fellowship

UCOR UT Check Presentation

Pictured at the check presentation ceremony, from left, are J. Wesley Hines, head of the UT Department of Nuclear Engineering; Wayne Davis, dean for the UT College of Engineering; Matt Marston, UCOR chief operating officer; fellow Jason Hayward; and Jimmy Cheek, UT chancellor. (Photo courtesy UCOR)


UCOR, the federal government’s cleanup contractor in Oak Ridge, presented the University of Tennessee with a $50,000 check this week for a faculty fellowship in the university’s College of Engineering.

This check was the latest installment of a $250,000 commitment UCOR, a partnership between URS and CH2M Hill, has made to the university, a press release said.

“As a cleanup contractor of a nuclear site, UCOR is committed to ensuring continued excellence in nuclear education,” said Matt Marston, UCOR chief operating officer. “This fellowship is an important step to fulfilling that commitment.”

The recipient of the fellowship, Jason Hayward, is an assistant fellow in the College of Engineering’s Department of Nuclear Engineering. Since arriving at the University of Tennessee in 2008, Hayward has focused on research in the areas of detector science and development of gamma ray and neutron imaging for applications in nuclear security, neutron scattering science, and medical imaging, the press release said. [Read more...]

ORAU hosts Graduate Student Recruitment Fair

Neil Brown at ORAU Graduate School Recruitment Fair

Neil Brown, right,, a senior majoring in chemical and biomolecular engineering at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, discusses his research during the 15th annual ORAU Graduate School Recruitment Fair. (Photo courtesy ORAU)


Following a full day of poster sessions where they presented the outcome of summer research projects completed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, more than 200 students from across the United States gathered at ORNL Thursday for the 15th annual ORAU Graduate Student Recruitment Fair.

Each year, the event is timed to correspond with the ORNL poster session to leverage the students’ excitement over their summer research achievements and to encourage enthusiasm for further expanding their education.

With representatives from the nation’s premier research graduate programs available in one room, the fair provided students the ability to explore possible future educational opportunities, as well as compare and contrast graduate programs. [Read more...]

School board restores bus service this year

Oak Ridge School Bus Protest

A small group of parents and students protest the expanded “parent responsibility zone,” where bus service is not provided, before an Oak Ridge Board of Education meeting on Monday. The board agreed during the meeting to restore bus service to last year’s levels. Pictured above from left are Michelle Doka, Melanie Heiberg, Oak Ridge City Council member Trina Baughn, protest organizer Laurie Paine, and her daughter Kaitlan Paine.


Note: This story was last updated at 11:15 a.m. August 12.

After hearing impassioned pleas from parents and grandparents, the Oak Ridge school board on Monday temporarily restored bus service to about 1,300 students who had been affected by an expanded but controversial “parent responsibility zone.” Parents of students who lived within that zone were responsible for getting their children to and from schools; bus service was not provided.

The parent responsibility zone, or PRZ, was expanded to 1.5 miles in June as part of a move to reduce a $1.25 million budget deficit. But parents of elementary and middle school students, in particular, objected to having students as young as five years old cross busy four-lane roadways like Oak Ridge Turnpike or Illinois Avenue to get to school, or walk past the homes of registered sex offenders or down roads with no sidewalks.

Parents, including single mothers, also expressed concerns about losing their jobs because they have to leave work early to pick up their children. They also said the expanded parent responsibility zone, which some call a “walk zone,” had a disproportionate impact on low-income families and elementary school children. They were disappointed by a lack of crossing guards near their schools, where their children or grandchildren cross busy roads. (City officials say they are accepting applications for crossing guards.)

“This is too dangerous,” resident Regina Wood said. “The safest way to get these kids to school is a bus,” resident Bill Dodge said.

On Monday, after a series of protests that started in July, the Oak Ridge Board of Education agreed in a 4-1 vote to use $300,000 in one-time money from the school system’s fund balance to restore the bus routes this year and then study the issue comprehensively before the next school year—or try to obtain more funding. The Monday night vote essentially reverses the June decision.

The bus routes likely won’t be restored immediately however, and possibly not until October. Among other things, up to three school bus drivers might need to be hired for an additional six routes, and buses will have to be made “road ready.” Still, advocates of restoring bus service were pleased for now. [Read more...]

Roane State has Sept. 5 ribbon-cutting for new health, sciences building

Goff Health Sciences and Technology Building

The ribbon-cutting for the new Goff Health Sciences and Technology Building at Roane State’s Oak Ridge campus will be Friday, September 5, at 8:30 a.m. The public is invited. (Submitted photo)


Roane State Community College will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday, September 5, for the new Goff Health Sciences and Technology Building at the college’s Oak Ridge campus.

The event begins at 8:30 a.m. The public is invited.

“We would love for the community to see the new building and to meet our faculty and students,” said Melinda Hillman, Roane State vice president of advancement and community relations. “Students will have wonderful learning opportunities in the new building, all thanks to the community’s support for this project. We are deeply appreciative and invite everyone to celebrate with us.”

The 64,000-square-foot, three-story building will help ease overcrowding at the Oak Ridge campus at 701 Briarcliff Avenue. Originally designed for 1,800 students, the campus has 2,500 students. The building will accommodate 500 students and give Roane State the space to offer new programs in health care and technology. [Read more...]