STEM educator’s far-reaching impact recognized with Chase Faculty Community Service Award

CU Denver’s Timberley Roane passionately supports Native American/American Indian community
By Staff

Timberley Roane, Ph.D.

Timberley Roane, Ph.D., is the recipient of the 2020 Chase Faculty Community Service award, recognition that honors her unrelenting support of the Native American/American Indian community in the education of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

An associate professor, Roane has been a faculty member in the Department of Integrative Biology at CU Denver’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences for 20 years.

The Chase Faculty Community Service Award is presented annually to a full-time CU faculty member who, in addition to his or her university responsibilities, has, pro bono, provided exceptional educational, humanitarian, civic or other service in the community. An advisory council submits a recommendation to CU President Mark Kennedy, who bestows the honor, which includes a $10,000 grant sponsored by an endowment from JPMorgan Chase through the CU Foundation.

Roane was formally recognized during a reception held virtually on Sept. 25.

Roane’s contributions and passion are far-reaching. She is a mentor for the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) and has served as an event coordinator and recruiter at local and national centers and conferences, including AISES, as well as the Eastern Shoshone Tribe College and Career Fair and the Denver Indian Center. As a mentor for AISES, Roane volunteers her time to multiple students by providing constructive feedback, giving fair and unbiased evaluations, and supporting her students so they can navigate the demanding rigors of discipline-focused conferences for the advancement of their careers in STEM.

Roane also is dedicated to Denver’s STEM community as a regular presenter at Denver Cafe Scientific, where she provides expertise in scientific topics to the public. In contributing to Denver youth, Roane is a regular judge for middle school and high school science fairs, sponsors high school students who perform research in her laboratory for one semester, and also participates in K-12 Native student recruitment events.

Roane also applies her biological knowledge to the field of museum preservation. Because many objects in museums were treated with pesticides containing mercury and arsenic, Roane is investigating whether bacteria can be used to remove these harmful chemicals. Such remediation is particularly important for items such as Native American artifacts that are being returned to the tribes – the rightful owners who may wish to use the artifacts in rituals.

To support Native American/American Indian college students, Roane developed the Environmental Stewardship of Indigenous Lands (ESIL) certificate. ESIL provides culturally ­relevant training in topics such as tribal sovereignty, environmental law, transcultural competency and traditional ecological knowledge. Graduates from the ESIL program bring an expertise to their communities to better partner with corporations and seek mutually beneficial relationships.

Roane not only focuses on providing students a chance to work with indigenous lands and communication, she also creates a sense of community. Roane’s involvement doesn’t end at recruitment: She guides students through every step of the process, from applying to the University of Colorado Denver, to providing logistical advice on moving to Denver, then major advising, internships, and finally landing their first professional engagement after leaving CU Denver.

“In receiving this award, I’d like to thank all who’ve shared their voices and all who have supported me in finding opportunity for voices to be heard,” Roane said. “It is important for me being in academia and in STEM to provide opportunities for others to engage in science within the context of their own identities. Science is not, or should not, be about one school of thought or one singular approach, noting that knowledge is the culmination of many experiences. In my role as a faculty member and in my personal community endeavors, it is about engaging with people to hear what they have to say and to invite their participation in increasing our understanding of our sense of place within the context of STEM.”

The Chase Faculty Community Service Award – established in 1991 with a $100,000 donation – is funded annually by an endowment from the JPMorgan Chase Foundation through the CU Foundation. The endowment provides an annual award of $10,000 to a full-time faculty member at the University of Colorado who has rendered exceptional service in his or her community.

“Dr. Roane is an excellent and most deserving choice for the award and JPMorgan Chase is pleased to honor her,” said Joe Coleman, Business Banking Market Manager for Chase in Colorado. “I was just in awe of her background, work and contributions, especially in support of the Native American/American Indian Community; in her role as a STEM Educator; and her work with the American Indian Science and Engineering Society. It was most impressive to read about the Environmental Stewardship of Indigenous Lands certificate program. Her work is genuinely impactful and creating a legacy among all the students, programs and communities she has touched.”

Nominations are being accepted for next year’s Chase Award. Deadline for submissions is Nov. 2.