Promoting STEM Education
Upon realizing that Arkansas didn’t have a Science Olympiad, Dr. Eric R. Kaufmann, professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, organized the state’s first event and hosted it at UA Little Rock in 2011.
Middle and high school students from across Arkansas demonstrated their analytical, scientific, and communication skills. Kaufmann is now organizing Arkansas’s second Olympiad.
“I am confident that this will be a significant science competition for years to come, and its success will be due in no small part to Dr. Kaufmann’s dedication to getting it started,” said his department chair, Dr. Thomas C. McMillan.
“I strongly believe that Dr. Eric Kaufmann’s leadership in bringing the Science Olympiad to Arkansas, building the program, encouraging a diversity of schools to participate, finding judges, securing financial and institutional support to carry out the event, and then overseeing the activities on that day demonstrates exemplar service deserving of this award,” said Dr. Kathie Olsen, founder and managing director of Science Works and former chief scientist for NASA, who presented at the Arkansas Science Olympiad.
With the national emphasis on increased science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, Olsen said Kaufmann “took the lead in Arkansas” to encourage and support student interest in science and mathematics. Robert C. Richardson, 1996 Nobel laureate in physics, who also presented at the state competition, said, “Eric’s enthusiasm for science is contagious. The excellent high school students who were the participants in the Olympiad caught the same infection.”
Additionally, Kaufmann has served as a referee for more than 135 papers for his research mathematician peers and organized and chaired the 28th Southeastern Atlantic Regional Conference on Differential Equations.
Kaufmann joined UA Little Rock 15 years ago. He earned a B.S. degree in mathematics from the Ohio State University in 1988, an M.S. degree in applied mathematical systems from the University of Dayton in 1991, and a Ph.D. in mathematics from Auburn University in 1994.