Congratulations to Temple Owl Dara Ruiz-Whalen, BSEd '95, MSEd '01, and current doctoral student, and her business partner Alana O'Reilly. Ruiz-Whalen and O'Reilly are executive directors and co-founders of eCLOSE Institute, a not-for-profit public charity (501(c)3). Setting the framework for building teacher-scientist teams to bring cutting edge research into the classroom, eCLOSE programs provide professional research training to students and teachers that bring core concepts in high school science education to life. Recently, eCLOSE was named the 2020 Greater Philadelphia Social Innovations Award winner for Education Entrepreneurship.
"We were nominated by our peers and we won because the people of Philadelphia believe in us," said Ruiz-Whalen. "People were able to vote online for companies that had the biggest social impact in Philadelphia," added Ruiz-Whalen.
eCLOSE is built on the concept of citizen science, a progressive approach where previously untrained participants contribute directly to professional scientific research projects. Four iterative eCLOSE program levels provide comprehensive research training to high school students and teachers, actively including participants in professional cancer research projects.
Other recent awards and recognitions for Ruiz-Whalen, Chief Learning Officer, and O'Reilly, Chief Scientific Officer, include the 2019 Milken-Penn: Finalists and Winners of American Public University System (All Around Runner Up) Award and the NEXT/Shulman Rogers Audience Choice Award.
Visit eCLOSE Institute's website to learn more about the organization.