Program Organization

The UC Davis EnvironMentors program is facilitated by Pia van Benthem, the Outreach and Education Program Coordinator of the John Muir Institute of the Environment (JMIE). Scientific oversight is provided by Prof. Benjamin Houlton (Director of JMIE and faculty in the Department of Land, Air and Water Resources) and Prof. Klaus van Benthem (Department of Materials Science and Chemical Engineering), who both act as directors for the local chapter.

The close collaboration between the student mentors, the program coordinator, and the faculty advisors strengthens the relationship between science and mentorship and enables an interdisciplinary culture that is greatly beneficial for the research projects carried out by the high school students.

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Prof. Houlton serves as the director of JMIE and as chapter director for the Strategies for Ecology Education, Diversity and Sustainability (SEEDS) program to engage underrepresented students in the ecological sciences. Past experiments have included genetic controls over plant community dynamics and responses of plants to changes in soil resources. For more information about Prof. Houlton’s research please visit his website.

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Prof. van Benthem serves as chapter director for the UC Davis chapter. His research focuses on structure-property relationships of functional nanomaterial that he studies experimentally using electron microscopy techniques. Prof. van Benthem has guided many classes of high school students through the microscopy facilities at UC Davis and continuously carries out high-resolution imaging demonstrations to the students using a scanning electron microscope.   To learn more about Prof. van Benthem’s research please visit his website.

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Pia van Benthem serves as Program Coordinator. With her BS. Degree in Education and her MS. in Engineering she is bridging the gap between science and education by translating University research to K-12 students and the general public.