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ANCHORAGE, ALASKA – Today the Alaska Native Science & Engineering Program held its 23rd annual Celebration, uniting a crowd of more than 1,300 to honor past successes and set a tone for the year ahead. Renowned theoretical physicist, futurist and co-founder of string theory Dr. Michio Kaku joined ANSEP students, alumni, families and partners, as well as 90 educators attending ANSEP’s inaugural Dissemination Conference from across the U.S., for the occasion.
Dr. Kaku is most well known for his devotion to finding a single unifying theory to solve Albert Einstein’s quest for a theory of everything, the “holy grail” of modern physics, which aims to link all aspects of the universe. Co-founder of the string field theory, Kaku, using mathematics, uncovered a way to prove multiple universes and dimensions beyond the ones we know. The findings bring physicists one step closer to solving Einstein’s theory, which could one day make travel between universes possible. In addition to these contributions to the field of theoretical physics, Kaku is a passionate communicator, known for making complicated theories easier to understand. He has taught at a number of universities and written several science books for the general public.
“We are all born scientists. When we’re born, we want to know why the sun shines. When we’re born, we want to know, ‘where do we come from?’” Kaku said today.
With a message of determination and imagination told through his extraordinary experiences of working to solve a complicated theory, Kaku spoke to ANSEP students, alumni, partners, conference attendees and supporters at the annual Celebration. Through his speech, Kaku aimed to motivate ANSEP students to develop their own formula for the future and continue working toward their educational and professional goals, even when they seem impossible.
In Alaska, indigenous Americans make up around 15 percent of the population, but they only represent 6 percent of the state’s workers in computer, engineering and science occupations. ANSEP is working to close this gap by producing mathematicians, engineers, teachers and scientists who can provide valuable leadership and a connection to local communities, from which all of Alaska can directly benefit. The program’s efforts over the years have resulted in the University of Alaska awarding 800 baccalaureate degrees to Alaska Native students, a feat that is being recognized across the country.
“ANSEP has worked to change hiring patterns in Alaska by developing a pipeline of students who are ready for careers in STEM fields. We are thankful to Dr. Kaku for helping us share the importance of determination and hard work with our students as well as the Dissemination Conference attendees who will spread ANSEP’s proven methods within their local communities and help underrepresented students from across the nation succeed,” said Dr. Herb Schroeder, ANSEP founder and vice provost.
ANSEP engages students at a critical time in their academic careers, identifying potential participants early, promoting an attitude of readiness, preparing students for the challenges ahead and giving them the tools and support they need to succeed. Beginning with students in middle school, ANSEP’s longitudinal model continues through high school into undergraduate degree programs and even through graduate school to the doctorate level. With more than 2,500 students from sixth grade through the Ph.D. in the pipeline, ANSEP is transforming education across Alaska.