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Dan Wulff, Supporting Future Scientists through JSHS for 31 Years  

Dan Wulff, Upstate New York Junior Science & Humanities Symposium co-director and professor of biological sciences, congratulates this year’s high school winners at the event. (Photo by Mark Schmidt)

ALBANY, N.Y. (March 11, 2016) – This year’s Upstate New York Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS) paid a special tribute to co-director Dan Wulff, the biology professor who started it all 31 years ago.

Through the symposium, Wulff, who is officially retiring at the end of May, has helped to bring thousands of high school students into the field of research, providing the means and high standards for students to work in applied and basic research labs.

“Many of these students have gone on to earn national recognition for their work,” said JSHS co-director Don Orokos, who agreed to assist Wulff with the program four years ago.

“Little did I know then just how involved Dan was and how much behind-the-scenes follow-up he did to continue and foster this nationally recognized high school research program,” said Orokos, who met Wulff in 1992 when he was a first year biology graduate student. Wulff had stepped in for one of his professors that day.

Orokos clearly remembers the day because Wulff spent the first 20 minutes of lecture wearing a classy, three-piece suit telling personal stories—accounts of when he worked with various scientific icons including James Watson, an American molecular biologist, geneticist and zoologist; Francis Crick, a British molecular biologist, biophysicist, and neuroscientist, most noted for being a co-discoverer of the structure of the DNA molecule in 1953 with Watson; and Max Delbruck, the father of molecular biology.

“It wasn’t just storytelling; he used those experiences as a way to engage and entice us to look deeper into what was discovered at the time so that we could continue with the work previously done by not just names but real, authentic scientists who just happened to be brilliant and world-changing in their careers,” said Orokos.

Wulff is known as being extremely supportive of students, and he has a caring, no-nonsense, and gentlemanly point of view with an incredible sense of humor.

“Over the past 30 years a lot has changed at the University. Dan may have gone from wearing a three-piece suit everyday to much more casual attire, but what remains unchanged is his respect, interest, and support for his students and co-workers,” said Orokos.

At this year’s event, more than 60 high school students presented their original scientific research as speaker or poster presenters over two days and finalists were chosen from among more than 500 talented science research students in upstate New York.

The students’ work was reviewed by teams of scientific judges, including many from UAlbany.

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