Perspectives on Science

Students attend a night class in Sator Hall with a classic PLNU sunset in the background.

Connect with educators and scientists at this monthly seminar series for middle and high school science teachers focusing on recent developments in a guest scientist’s area of expertise, with particular emphasis on those aspects that are of greatest interest and significance to science teachers.

Past speakers have included six Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigators, 33 members of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, and five Nobel Laureates:

  • Francis Crick, who discussed the mechanism of vision
  • Sydney Brenner, who provided an eyewitness account of the early discoveries leading to the formulation of the “Central Dogma” of molecular biology
  • Roger Tsien, who discussed his research on fluorescent proteins
  • Kurt Wüthrich, who spoke about the use of NMR for studying proteins
  • Hamilton Smith, who shared about the initial discovery of restriction endonuclease enzymes

Perspectives on Science (POS) began as an idea in spring 1998, when a group of educators and scientists gathered on the PLNU campus to discuss how ongoing interactions could best be fostered between San Diego County science teachers and leading research scientists in Southern California.

"Perspectives on Science has been an incredible opportunity for me. Every presentation was informative and engaging. Topics that I never thought would intrigue me, did. I was particularly impressed with the passion and concern the presenters had as well as their openness to questions and their ability to help their audience understand the scope and placement of their work." 

Jocelyn Broemmelsiek
San Dieguito High School Academy

"Perspectives on Science has been a great opportunity to increase my depth of knowledge in the biological sciences. It has also challenged me to research topics outside of my comfort zone. I enjoy the opportunity for lifelong learning that POS offers." 

Juli Cheskaty
Del Norte High School

"I have been attending these lectures since they began (in 1998) and have used these opportunities to nurture my network of contacts to expand education in the sciences." 

Bart Hays
Helix Charter High School


Event Format and Time

Each POS meeting begins with refreshments at 4:30 p.m., followed by the scientist’s formal seminar presentation at 5 p.m. The seminar is followed by a sit-down dinner, during which teachers are able to dialog with each other informally in smaller groups about how the concepts of the seminar can be effectively incorporated into their classrooms. The last half hour of each session (7 – 7:30 p.m.) is set aside as a time for teachers and the guest scientist to clarify and exchange ideas that might help facilitate more effective, enthusiastic student learning.

Event Location

POS events take place in the Fermanian Business Center and the Nicholson Commons building on the PLNU campus. Driving directions and a map of the campus are sent to all those who register for the program.

Registration Details

The subscription fee for the POS program is $80, which covers about one-third of the annual cost of the program per teacher. When available, details for the next POS program can be found in the biology department's Events & News section. Please use the registration link in that area to sign up.

Academic Credit

PLNU offers 1 unit of continuing education credit per year (at a subsidized rate of $75 per unit) to teachers who participate in both the seminar and dinner/discussions of at least seven of the eight POS events. (This arrangement may be repeated up to a total of 6 units.) Those who meet the minimum attendance requirement receive a letter and form shortly after the final POS event of the year. The form includes instructions and a deadline to apply to receive academic credit. Credit may only be applied for and received within three months of receiving the form.

Teachers who are enrolled in PLNU's graduate course BIO 692 receive 2 units of credit for POS (1 unit in the fall and 1 unit in the spring), pay regular graduate level tuition, and are required to fulfill other assignments relating to the POS presentations. BIO 692 students must also pay the $80 POS program subscription fee. This fee helps subsidize the cost of meals and various other expenses related to running the program.

Program Sponsors

The POS lecture/dinner series has received financial support over the years from several outside organizations and businesses, including San Diego Science Educators AssociationGeorge's at the Cove, the CA Science Project, SEASAND: the Science Education Association of San Diego, the Girard Foundation of La Jolla, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. From the outset, the PLNU administration provided strong support for POS (about 33 percent of annual operating expenses from 1998 through 2008). When the financial crisis hit the nation in 2008, the university raised its support level to around 67 percent. By 2012, though, the higher level of support could no longer be sustained and the POS program was facing cancellation. It was at this point that several dozen teachers who were POS participants began contributing gifts so the program could continue. We are grateful to all these science educators, and especially Steve Rodecker of Chula Vista High School, whose leadership in this fundraising effort helped save the day. The future for POS looks bright!

Want more information? 

Contact Michael McConnell at mmcconne@pointloma.edu or LeAnne Elizondo at (619) 849-2205 or leanneelizondo@pointloma.edu.

More Testimonials from Teacher Participants

The Perspectives on Science Seminars have been stimulating and have given me the excitement I felt in graduate research. I bring info. from every seminar back into the classroom to my students in chemistry and advanced chemistry. I point out connections between what they are learning and actual research topics of today. The seminars continue to inspire me and my students to follow current scientific research in multiple fields. POS serves an important role in my chemistry curriculum.

Michaela Bertch
Cathedral Catholic High School


POS has been an incredible opportunity for me. Every presentation was informative and engaging. Topics that I never thought would intrigue me, did. I was particularly impressed with the passion and concern each presenter had as well as their openness to questions and their ability to help their audience understand the scope and placement of their work.

Jocelyn Broemmelsiek
San Dieguito High School Academy


I have continually used what I've learned from the POS lectures by incorporating them into my lessons for students.  POS is a fabulous opportunity for teachers.  Other teachers that I have invited to attend, have shared with me how much they have also enjoyed the lectures and how they also incorporate their learnings into their lessons for students. Thank you to PLNU for organizing such a great thing for science teachers! 

Courtney Browne
San Diego Unified School District


I look forward to these lectures.  As a teacher, we mostly remove ourselves from doing science research and don't have enough time to keep up with the latest news in the areas we teach. These lectures force me to stay up to date; and my students like my "reports" of what the lectures are about. It also lets my students know I am a student also...still learning!

Jeff Bush
Del Norte High School


As a teacher and biologist, I look forward to POS each month as a way to stay current and remain connected to the sciences, in all their beautiful forms.  When possible, I try to share what I have learned at POS with my students.  Science is changing by leaps and bounds and we, as educators, must take responsibility for exposing our students to that change.  POS provides the conduit for that exposure.

Patricia Evans
Challenger Middle School


The POS lectures get me excited about science and motivate me to share my new knowledge with my students. The excitement is contagious and sparks interesting conversations in the classroom. This is the type of professional development that is hard to come by. The need for science teachers to stay on top of current research is underestimated. I rush to sign up for this program each year. Thank you to everyone behind the scenes who make it happen.

Amy Garvin-Reifke
Chula Vista High School


I have attended POS for many years, and consider the lectures to be a vital part of my continuing education as a middle school science teacher. The speakers are leading edge scientists, and I am frequently almost stunned by the information. I find myself repeatedly referring to the lectures in my classroom. I'm introduced to topics that I'm immediately using in my teaching of middle school general science. My students ask questions about so many topics, and I find myself better able to answer. I look forward to these cutting-edge lectures and rearrange my schedule as necessary to attend. 

Eve Jones-Burton
Chula Vista Middle School


I have been going to POS off/on for the past 5+ years.  I've really appreciated the speakers' topics as they have really spurred me on to incorporate these topics into my classroom lessons. Further, it has kept me current in the ever-changing field of Biology.  As long as this program exists, I will attend...I consider this a #1 priority for me to stay involved with for my teaching career. It's that important to me. Thank you for subsidizing this wonderful program for the SD county teachers.

Chris McGaugh
Scripps Ranch High School


The POS lecture series provides an invaluable venue for teachers to learn about cutting-edge science in our area AND to interact with students, teachers, scientists, and administrators from various backgrounds. The presentations provide great inspiration and insight which can be immediately applied to our classroom instruction and further engaging students. The interactions with colleagues in the collegiate environment is fantastic primarily due to the fact that the focus of the discussions is on science and the topic presented with input from a diverse group of professionals. This is extremely beneficial as many professional development opportunities are based at the school-site or district and discussions in these venues are often more focused on problems and politics, rather than on science topics and improving student engagement. I very much want to thank PLNU for making these opportunities possible for the teachers in our region as they energize our teachers and have a direct, positive impact on student learning!

Greg Steinbach
Mira Mesa High School


The Perspectives on Science (POS) lecture series is of great benefit to our schools and, ultimately, our community.  As the push for STEM/STEAM career training increases at a national level, San Diego teachers have a great opportunity to influence the occupational paths our students choose to pursue.  By learning about and then sharing the most current experimental techniques or adding depth to the knowledge we impart to our students, we can get them excited about careers in Science.

Karoly Tippets
Coronado Middle School