The Rochester Museum & Science Center will highlight local area educators and organizations that are making a difference and teaching the community about the important opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math at a new event, the RMSC STEM Awards ceremony, that will take place at 6 p.m. March 9 at the Strathallan Hotel, 550 East Ave., Rochester.

"This community's future is bright especially now that there are so many individuals and up-and-coming companies doing first-class work," said Kate Bennett, president of RMSC. “We are excited to celebrate well-deserving award recipients for the inspiration they have ignited in the important fields of STEM."

Members of the community nominated individuals and organizations for four distinct STEM awards, and volunteer committee members have selected finalists.

The Catalyst Award recognizes an organization or representative of an organization that develops and encourages an environment that promotes innovation in science and technology or that has utilized science and technology to form a lasting impact on the Greater Rochester Region. Finalists for the award include Sheila Brady-Root of St. John Fisher College; Girl Develop It, represented by Liz Gombert and Kristen Curtze; LaserMax Inc., represented by Will and Susan Houde-Walter; Duncan Moore of University of Rochester; and Second Avenue Learning, represented by Victoria Van Voorhis.

The Leadership Awards in STEM Education, presented at elementary, secondary and university educational levels, recognizes innovative teaching in science, technology, engineering or math education. Educators are recognized for innovation in inspiring students to understand, appreciate and apply STEM fields. Candidates must have at least three years of teaching experience.

Finalists for the elementary level include Sue Sorrentino, Donna Chaback and Kathy Irvine from the Allendale Columbia Lower School STEM Team; Dr. Ania Majewska of University of Rochester Medical Center; Peter Mastrogiovanni, Vici Patanella and Tina Rodger from the Nathaniel Rochester Community School STEM Team; Kati Tobin and Tammy Pulver of Lima Primary School; and Kathy Uerz of Wayne Central School District.

Finalists at the secondary level include Paul Conrow from East School Precision Optics; Randy French of Geneseo Middle/High School; Eric Kazukiewicz from the West Irondequoit Central School District; Donna Smith from Gates Chili High School; and Steve Thering from Barker Road Middle School of the Pittsford Central School District.

Finalists at the university level include Dr. Thomas Brown of The Institute of Optics at University of Rochester; Dr. Yousuf George from Nazareth College of Rochester; Dr. Maria Helguera and Mr. Joe Pow of Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science at Rochester Institute of Technology; and Dr. April Luehmann of University of Rochester.

The STEM Communication Award recognizes individual achievement or team collaboration in a body of communications or journalistic work that presents science and technology news and issues via any medium, including new media. This year’s recipient is Jarod Miller, who earned a degree in zoology from SUNY Oswego. At age 25, he became the youngest accredited zoo director and helped transform the Binghamton Zoo. Jarod later went on to host his own television series, “Animal Exploration with Jarod Miller” and primetime series for Animal Planet and CBS.

The President's Civic Award, presented by RMSC President Kate Bennett, recognizes an individual for his or her contributions to the fields of STEM.

Individual ticket: $100; Inquiry Sponsor (10 tickets): $1,250.

For additional sponsorship opportunities, contact Ryan Elizabeth Shear at 585-697-1924 or rshear@rmsc.org.