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SFSU student wins presidential award



Ellen Griffin
SFSU Office of Public Affairs
(415) 338-6990
(415) 338-1665

Press Release published by the Office of Public Affairs


Marin resident achieves nation's highest honor for high school math/science teachers

SAN FRANCISCO, March 27, 2003 - San Francisco State University biology graduate student Mary T. Wuerth recently received the nation's highest honor for high school math and science teachers, the 2002 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.

The award, established by the White House in 1983 and sponsored by the National Science Foundation, recognizes outstanding math and science teachers who serve as role models for their colleagues and will be leaders in the improvement of math and science education. One teacher from each state and the four U.S. jurisdictions is selected for the award.

Wuerth is pursing a master's degree in cell and molecular biology at SFSU, working in the lab of Michael Goldman, professor of biology. In addition to completing her graduate studies, the San Rafael resident teaches full time at Tamalpais High School in Mill Valley and part time at the College of Marin in Kentfield.

"I know I would not be getting this award if I had not gone back to school at San Francisco State," Wuerth said. "Learning what I have in the biology program has made me a much better teacher keeping me up to date in the rapidly advancing field of biology."

Wuerth has completed 30 graduate units in the master's program in cell and molecular biology and, pending her thesis defense, will graduate this spring.

"Mary is a gifted and dedicated science teacher," Goldman said. "She is always on the forefront, bringing her students the latest breaking information in biotechnology and other fields."

As a science instructor, Wuerth developed and ran a training program for teachers in molecular biology techniques, drawing upon her SFSU training in recombinant DNA techniques, gene expression and protein engineering. She also worked with a team to create interdisciplinary science programs and taught both advanced placement students and teachers of advanced placement biology.

Each awardee receives a citation from the president of the United States, a $7,500 cash award from the National Science Foundation to improve math and science instruction, and a paid trip to attend recognition events in Washington, D.C.

The events, which Wuerth attended March 18-23, included an award ceremony, presidential citation, meeting with First Lady Laura Bush, meetings with leaders in government and education, sessions to share ideas and teaching experiences, and receptions and banquets to honor recipients.

"We can't have incredible advances in biotechnology and medicine without a well-trained workforce and an informed, science-literate public," Goldman stated. "Mary's work in achieving this is exemplary."


NOTE: For an electronic photo of Mary Wuerth receiving the 2002 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, or for Wuerth's or Goldman's contact information, contact Ellen Griffin of the SFSU Office of Public Affairs at (415) 338-6990 or


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Last modified March 28, 2003, by the Office of Public Affairs