Your Impact

Bailey Foundation builds runway for future scientists

$4M gift will expand STEM education at The Wertheim UF Scripps Institute

By Lauren Irizarry UF Health Published May 13, 2024

Hands-on research experience can spark a lifelong passion for science and technology. A new $4 million grant from the Glenn W. Bailey Foundation will amplify educational initiatives based at The Herbert Wertheim UF Scripps Institute for Biomedical Innovation & Technology.
The gift will expand training opportunities for aspiring scientists by nurturing the institute’s acclaimed graduate fellowship program, its Kenan Fellows High School internships and its community education and outreach programs.

“The Glenn W. Bailey Foundation is pleased to support and grow these opportunities, as part of our mission of supporting STEM education in the United States,” stated the Glenn W. Bailey Board of Trustees.

Courtney Miller, Ph.D., director of academic affairs at The Wertheim UF Scripps Institute, said the gift will benefit students and educators throughout the Palm Beach and Martin counties.

“There’s simply nothing that can replicate the real-world experience of conducting experiments, gathering data and making discoveries, guided by an expert mentor,” she said. “This life-changing opportunity provides students with a window into how science benefits society through the process of drug discovery. This gift will enable us to continue to provide this legacy program for years to come.”

For nearly 20 years, the institute’s high school internship program has trained more than 200 students. A bedrock for community education and outreach initiatives at the institute, the Kenan Fellows High School internship program now becomes part of the newly namedGlenn W. Bailey STEM Education Outreach Programs. During the nine-week, full-time experience, students immerse themselves in real biomedical research under the supervision of a Wertheim UF Scripps Institute scientist.

The new gift will also help expand the institute’s kindergarten through collegiate educational outreach programs, which include school visits, field trips, science night participation and other events. Miller notes that the new funding will open more collaborations with local and university-level partners, as well.

Students from Emerald Cove Middle School’s Pre-IT Academy conduct a drug discovery simulation during a recent field trip to the institute. Pictured are Silvanna Salazar and Jalyssa Vaccianna. A new gift from the Glenn W. Bailey Foundation supports expansion of such education outreach efforts.

The expansion means more opportunities for area teachers, including Gladys Mateo-Almodovar, M.Ed.L.. An eighth-grade science teacher at Okeeheelee Middle School in West Palm Beach, Mateo-Almodovar worked last summer with biochemist Thomas Kodadek, Ph.D. The experience gave the longtime teacher an in-depth look at emerging research to share with her students.

“This program has been of great benefit to me in my professional life,” Mateo-Almodovar said. “I used it to reinforce the importance of studying sciences, and, in the process, motivate my students to study professions related to this field. I can say that it is one of the best work experiences I have ever had.”

Mateo-Almodovar credits researchers’ visit to her school’s recent Science Night for motivating nearly 120 students.

“We look forward to collaborating with even more educators in our local communities to encourage young minds to explore science, nurture their curiosity and think creatively about everyday problems,” said Rosie Albarran-Zeckler, Ph.D., manager of academic support services.

The Wertheim UF Scripps Institute also builds the pipeline of tomorrow’s biomedical leaders through its graduate program. Establishment of the Glenn W. and Cornelia T. Bailey Endowed Graduate Fellowship enables the institute to nurture additional promising doctoral students. Reserved for full-time Ph.D. candidates, the competitive three-year fellowship is awarded to second- and third-year students, enabling them to pursue their work with greater focus.

The first Glenn W. and Cornelia T. Bailey Fellow, neuroscience student Chu-Ting Chang, began her rotation in 2021. Her research focuses on understanding how cell receptors interact with many medications. Because of the additional funding, two additional Bailey fellows will be announced this fall.

“The Wertheim UF Scripps Institute is a special place where scientists can pursue incredible, life-changing research that will affect humankind,” said Laura Solt, Ph.D., associate dean of the institute’s graduate program. “As a former fellow myself, I know firsthand how this level of support energizes our efforts. I am deeply appreciative to the Bailey Foundation trustees for their enduring philanthropy.”

The Bailey Foundation’s longstanding support is a testament to its founders’ passion for science, technology, engineering and math education and medical research. Glenn W. Bailey was an accomplished businessman and U.S. Navy veteran whose engineering career saw him lead several manufacturing companies, eventually establishing the Bairnco Corp. to invest in promising companies by building their management and financial skills.

Supporting the Wertheim UF Scripps Institute since 2022, the Bailey Foundation’s partnership is tangible recognition of the work accomplished by all at the institute. Miller notes that this recognition is especially meaningful to those faculty and researchers who mentor the next generation of scientists at all levels, from elementary through graduate school.

By Lauren Irizarry UF Health Published May 13, 2024

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