Skip to content

Science Spotlight

Science Spotlight

Tamar Klein teaches 11th grade chemistry, for the past four years. She earned a B.S. in chemistry and sociology at Queens College and received her Masters in chemistry education at Teachers College, Columbia. Tamar’s passion for science initially ignited in her studies of pre-dentistry. She quickly realized that the smell of people’s mouths was not one she would prefer to be in contact with on a daily basis. She always loved sharing her knowledge and study skills with peers, which inspired her to transition to her teaching career. She has fallen in love with teaching from the first day she came to Baruch College Campus High School. Rosalind Franklin is one scientist who helps shape her career. Franklin said: “Science and everyday life cannot and should not be separated.” She is a huge inspiration to Tamar for being a Nobel Prize winning woman scientist in chemistry.

Angela Oldenburg teaches 10th grade Earth science and Forensic science. She also is the advisor for Baruch’s dance team. She earned a B.A. in Anthropology and a M.S. in Environmental Science from Adelphi University, and a M.A.T. in Earth Science from Queens College. Angela began her science career as a Forensic technician for the World Trade Center Recovery Project and then as an environmental consulting scientist. She transitioned to teaching when she realized that her career was no longer about practicing science but rather about the business aspects. She always had a passion for sharing her love of rocks and bones and that’s what lead her to go back to school for education. Angela has a loving family and two beautiful twin boys who she takes rock hunting regularly. Marie Tharp is one scientist who helps shape her career. Tharp revolutionized geology and the foundational principle of Plate Tectonics, though few people even know her name. Her work was said to be dismissed as “girl talk,” yet without her the ocean floor would still be a mystery to us. She is also greatly influenced by the wise words of Charles Lyell who said, “The Past is the Key to Present.”

Sam Zimmerman has been teaching physics at BCCHS since the last millennium. He has also taught cognitive science and film studies. He serves as the advisor to the school’s Gender Sexuality Alliance club, which educates students about the LGBTQ+ community and provides a safe space for all students to discuss their experience and identity. Sam has been fascinated by science since he was a child, when he would devour books about science along with television shows like 3-2-1 Contact. He attended Columbia University, where he took many physics classes, but ultimately earned his B.A. in English and comparative literature. To earn money during summers, he busked as a street juggler. After a brief stint marketing investments for Citicorp, Sam returned to Columbia to earn his master’s degree in secondary physics education. Recently, he spent a year studying cognitive science at Central European University in Budapest, Hungary. He coincidentally ended up living in the building that was the childhood home of Dennis Gabor, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist credited with inventing holography. Sam’s favorite underappreciated scientist is Henry Cavendish, who worked during the late 18th century and is most famous for measuring Newton’s gravitational constant, G, which allowed him – for the first time in human history – to determine the mass of our planet. The list of Cavendish’s accomplishments is astonishing: he identified hydrogen as a distinct substance and discovered that water was made of hydrogen and oxygen. He determined the composition of Earth’s atmosphere. He was the first to measure the specific gravities of gases and established many other properties of elements, compounds and solutions. Perhaps most impressively, he investigated electricity flow through solutions and found the relationship between voltage and electrical current nearly half a century before Georg Ohm’s famous law. Cavendish, however, was hesitant to publish his work, and the full scope of his research was not appreciated until decades after his death.

Uzma Shah was born in Pakistan and immigrated to a small town in Wyoming when she was five years old. She grew up surrounded by nature, expansive skies and majestic mountains. It was no surprise she developed a love of nature and curiosity of the world. Wanting to seek more diversity she attended the University of Rochester, where she earned dual B.A.s in Biology and Religion. Following graduation, Uzma moved to Seattle, Washington where she served as a Volunteer in Service to America (VISTA/Americorps). Working in inner city schools, she realized what she had intuitively known since she was very young; she loved teaching and loved science. She returned to New York to earn a master’s degree in Secondary Science Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. A few years later, Uzma earned a second master’s degree in Public Administration from Baruch College. She has been teaching biology at BCCHS for the last 18 years and is also the advisor to the Lorax club. From a young age Uzma was inspired by her science teachers and later by the many scientists with whom she worked. The topics of her science research include fungal infections in potato crops, hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), DNA repair mechanisms in yeast, and mutations in alpha and beta thalassemia. More recently she conducted field research in Ecuador, studying caterpillars and biodiversity. Uzma is grateful to the many female and minority scientists who often had to fight for access to education, lab space, and equal recognition. Two women whom she is particularly inspired by are primatologist, Jane Goodall and marine biologist and conservationist, Rachel Carson. Motivated by the work of Jane Goodall, Uzma studied chimpanzees in Uganda this past summer. Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring influenced the formation of the EPA and sparked the modern environmental movement. Ever curious, Uzma will travel to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef this summer to study climate change and coral reef ecosystems.