Syracuse University Magazine


Science Horizons students use nets to collect samples of aquatic life in Onondaga Lake. Pictured (left to right) are team coordinator Jessi Lyons of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Onondaga County, Evan Stewart (Bishop Grimes), Taylor Gwilt (Lincoln Middle School), Kelsee Darling (West Genesee Middle School), and Griffin Walker (Bishop Ludden).

Photo by Ron Trinca Photography

Inspiring Young People to Explore Scientific World

What does the number of fish in Onondaga Lake tell us about the level of pollution? How does identifying types of macroinvertebrates found in the lake help evaluate the cleanup activities under way? These are some of the questions participants in the Bristol-Myers Squibb Science Horizons Program posed to experts during a boat cruise of the lake and field experiments.  

The program, a partnership with University College, celebrated its 20th anniversary in June, offering local seventh- and eighth-graders an interactive look at the field of science. Since its inception, more than 800 students have participated in the week-long program held at SU. 

Fully funded by Bristol-Myers Squibb, Science Horizons gives students an opportunity to learn from science and engineering faculty, medical personnel, and working scientists and technologists while taking part in hands-on activities and demonstrations both on and off campus. Students also visited the pathology and cardiology departments at Crouse Hospital, where they examined organs, learned about diseases, and studied the human heart. 

Science Horizons began in 1993 to mark Bristol’s 50th anniversary in Syracuse. Kim Buchanan, a science teacher in the Fabius-Pompey Central School District, has been with the program from the beginning. She believes it’s important for students to interact with people passionate about science-related work. “When it comes to careers, science provides a wide range of opportunities that continues to change,” she says. “Just looking at the evolution of Bristol-Myers over the last 20 years, changing from making penicillin to now using biologics, illustrates how science is constantly expanding.” Whether it’s saving lives, protecting our country, producing alternative energy, or improving the environment, Buchanan believes Science Horizons helps students understand how to use science to better our world. 

A highlight of the program is a day-long visit to Bristol’s Thompson Road facility. Students learn about the research and development processes at the pharmaceutical plant through a series of interactive sessions, and have lunch with the scientists and engineers. “At Bristol-Myers Squibb, we’ve dedicated our careers to leveraging science to discover, develop, and deliver innovative medicines to help patients prevail over serious diseases,” says John R. Mosack, general manager of the Syracuse plant. “We support programs that encourage students to explore how science plays a critical role in bringing so much benefit to the world. To foster successful scientists and engineers of the future, we introduce young people to the excitement of scientific application in industry.” 

Matthew Noyes, a 2003 participant, attends the University of Rochester. He says his experience in Science Horizons—and meeting like-minded individuals—had a huge influence in building his passion for science. “The program covered many different fields, from ecology to rocketry, and presented active engagement I would not have had otherwise,” he says. To enhance his undergraduate studies, Noyes landed a work-study opportunity at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, where he worked on 3D visualization of rocket telemetry and several other projects. He also worked at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, helping with launch control system software for a new rocket project. “Science is an educational process, and education is life long,” Noyes says. “Children are naturally curious, and if parents, teachers, and role models feed that curiosity with intellectual endeavors, they will stay with them forever.”

Mosack enjoys knowing the program has such an impact. “It is our hope that this program is an inspiring and motivating experience on the students’ journey to successful futures as scientists, engineers, or other science-oriented careers,” he says. —Eileen T. Jevis