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John A. Pollock, Duquesne University

The official biography below was current at the time of the award. Awardees may choose to provide their latest biographical information on their profile page.

John Pollock's mentoring activities over a 36-year career arch across three domains in his professional life: teaching university courses in neuroscience and biology; conducting independent research where he can mentor high school, college, and university students; and developing creative multimedia and transmedia education resources. John says "I teach young scientists how to be excellent and ethical investigators, and how to think about the educational needs of children, other students, and the general public." His philosophy is poignant; "I do not mentor one demographic, but rather strive to open doors between communities." Indeed he has.

At the university level, well over 130 students have been directly mentored by Dr. Pollock. On average, about 25 percent of his Duquesne mentees are students from ethnic/racial groups underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, and about 60 percent are female. Seventy-two of them have completed graduate work and have gone forward with major professional careers in government, academia, industry, and health care. This is the product of intense, deliberate, and sustained mentoring. His mentees have gone forward as leaders in the fields of law, science, medicine, biomedical research, and teaching, especially with underserved populations. By design and intention, they have come from broad and diverse backgrounds with a wide range of academic strengths-some with real challenges they needed to overcome. Working with John Pollock, each has found a path that fueled the desire to strive for greater accomplishment.

Moving outside the university afforded Dr. Pollock the opportunity to reach many more minority and underprivileged students in the Pittsburgh schools (where a majority [55.8 percent] are African-American). He has organized science summer camps which serve the largely African American, lower income, Pittsburgh community of Hazelwood. In his spare time, he spends two or more hours each week helping children learn to read. He has developed a wide range of educational resources (with funding from the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Education, and a number of foundations and corporations). He has produced nine planetarium/digital dome shows on biological topics; created museum and traveling exhibits; and developed interactive software and video games for the classroom, including a highly successful learning App called 'POWERS OF MINUS TEN­ BONE' (which has been downloaded from Apple iTunes over 600,000 times). He has also created and produced a television show for children on the science of sleep that is currently in national distribution by American Public Television to over 100 public television stations.

Dr. Pollock's awards are extensive and include Duquesne's Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching, and the James A. Shannon Director's Award from the National Institutes of Health.