Excellence in Outreach Award/ Staff: Jamie Cornish, Spring Awards of Excellence, Academic Year 2021-22. Portrait of Jamie Cornish

Jamie Cornish

Jamie Cornish, Science Outreach and Education Specialist in MSU Academic Technology and Outreach, has received the Excellence in Outreach Award for a member of the MSU staff. The award recognizes significant engagement programming and achievements. It carries a $2,000 honorarium.

Cornish has demonstrated her commitment to science education and outreach throughout her 20-year career at MSU. During that time, Cornish has been a principal investigator and collaborator on competitive science education and outreach grants from NASA, the National Institutes of Health, the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, Montana’s Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education Gear Up, Montana EPSCoR and others. In the last five years, Cornish has written and implemented grants totaling more than $1.6 million, while continuing to train faculty in writing sections of their NSF grants and helping them implement those ideas. Her nominators say that work has made a large impact on the quality and quantity of outreach programs at MSU.

Cornish’s recent work has focused on science education outreach to Montana American Indian youth, in partnership with tribal colleges throughout the state. In that role she has coordinated several successful outreach programs including Rockets on the Reservation, a program that engaged more than 2,500 rural students in all seven Montana reservations with NASA science. More than 360 middle school youth from rural underserved communities have come to MSU over the last six years for the Explore Earth and Space Science camp, which Cornish also coordinated.

During the COVID-19 quarantine, Cornish worked to provide students who were at home with hands-on science lessons. She created an Amskapi Piikani NASA kit with Blackfeet Community College. Filled with place-based activities showcasing Blackfeet knowledge and language, the kits were distributed to more than 500 students. She is currently working on a similar kit for the Apsáalooke (Crow) tribe. Cornish also worked with educators in the Blackfeet tribe to explore ways to increase Native students’ interest in science, mixing Western science with Native ways of knowing to improve Blackfeet youth’s engagement and fascination with science.

On campus, she organized MSU Family Science Day, an event that helps the public interact with MSU students, scientists and staff and learn about their research by exploring hands-on activities in a science festival type atmosphere. Cornish ensured that all 5th grade classes at Title 1 schools in Bozeman can attend the event by securing grant funding for the classes.

Cornish has co-authored several articles in journals with her campus collaborators. Additionally, Cornish was one of the key authors and the editor of a guidebook to Yellowstone’s microbial life that is used in educational programs by the National Park Service at Yellowstone National Park.