Growing up in Belmont schools taught Ben Graves, 27, to think like the scientist he became. After graduating from , and he went on to study earth systems science at Stanford University.
"I really value the education I got in Belmont," said Graves. "The teachers really empowered me and my peers to think critically about the world."
Now Graves will return to the world of education, this time as a high school teacher in Colorado. The Knowles Science Teaching Foundation recently awarded him with a five-year fellowship worth $175,000. During that time he will teach in his area of expertise at the high school level.
"In high school kids are still grappling with the idea of what it means to be a scientist," said Graves. "What I'm excited about is helping kids who don't identify as people who are comfortable with science and helping them develop an identity as someone who can do science."
Graves began his career in conservation biology and environmental research, during which time he realized how much he enjoyed discussing science with non-experts.
"When I worked in research at Yellowstone, the best part of my day was interacting with the general public," he said. "I worked in the Andes for a conservation group and translating the research into ideas the local population cared about was also really rewarding. I began to see the communication piece as even more of an interesting challenge than doing the research itself."
The Knowles Science Teaching Foundation seeks experts in the fields of math and science for a five-year commitment teaching in America's high schools. The program supports early career teachers in an effort to combat high rates of teacher turnover and to draw high-caliber talent to the classroom.
"As an adult I've realized that growing up I had these really amazing examples of great thinkers," said Graves. "My own experiences with teachers and professors who were the best in their field, reinforced by my cohort of peers in this fellowship, confirms for me that teaching is an incredibly rewarding and challenging profession that is great for creative and critical thinkers."