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Indian-American teacher gets mentoring award from Obama

USA, Feb 10, 2010

Indian American professor Kenneth S. Sajwan of Savannah State University has received an award for excellence in mentoring from President Barack Obama.

Sajwan, coordinator of the environmental science programme at SSU, was among 100 math and science teachers to get the award Wednesday from Obama as he announced a $250 million public-private initiative designed to improve national math and science education.

Nationally recognised as a leading scholar and researcher in the field of environmental science, Sajwan's works have been seen in more than 100 publications.

He received a bachelor of science degree in agriculture and animal husbandry in 1972 from Pant University of Agriculture and Technology, and a master of science degree in agronomy in 1975 from J.N. Agricultural University in India.

He earned a doctoral degree in post-harvest technology from Indian Institute of Technology in 1980 and another doctoral degree in agronomy and environmental quality from Colorado State University in 1985.

Prior to joining Savannah State University in 1992, he served as an assistant professor at the University of Georgia's Savannah River Ecology Laboratory. His previous work includes postdoctoral associateships at the University of Kentucky and the University of Wisconsin.

The new funding announced by Obama Wednesday builds on his math and science "Educate to Innovate Campaign", which was announced last November. Several large companies, including Intel, Xerox, Kodak and Time Warner Cable have already pledged $260 million to the effort.

The money will be used to promote five new partnerships intended to help train over 10,000 new math and science teachers over the next five years.

It will also be used to support the professional development of more than 100,000 current math, science, technology and engineering teachers, according to the White House.

American students, Obama noted, currently rank 21st in science and 25th in math compared with students around the world, putting the US at a disadvantage on vital issues such as medicine, energy and security.

The administration, Obama said Wednesday, is committed to moving the US "from the middle to the top of the pack".