Moving forward

Julia Betts, ISEF mentor, moves on to further pursue her career



Keeping the science fair fun, David Baker and Dylan Martins, juniors, Amy Schauer and Julia Betts, ISEF coordinators, and Frank Craft, freshman, dress up for the competition. Betts worked with all three students, but will be leaving this upcoming year to further pursue her career.

After three years of helping ISEF (International Science and Engineering Fair) participants, Julia Betts, ISEF mentor, has decided to move forward in her career. At West Linn High School, Betts helped mentor students throughout the ISEF process.

“I also helped the fair director, Amy Schauer, to organize the fair, which includes preparing components to ensure the fair day goes smoothly,” Betts said. “I also acted as the Awards Coordinator, organizing awards and donations to recognize students for their great accomplishments.”

“Although it was a difficult decision, I was excited for the prospect to take my career path to the next step,” Betts said, “I recently earned my Masters in Science Teaching with an emphasis on project evaluation and professional development for teachers.”

Betts’ new position at the Saturday Academy as Classes and Camps Coordinator opens up doors for her. “I have the opportunity to serve over 6,000 students a year, instruct teachers on effective ways to teach STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] classes and I get to develop new and exciting classes,” Betts said.

The Saturday Academy is a non-profit organization that facilitates hundreds of classes a year for students grades 2-12 in the Portland Metro Area, according to Betts.

Betts has a history in science. “I was offered a position as a Research Assistant for a company called Cellana, in Kailua Kona, Hawaii,” Betts said. “I was actually offered the position by the lead researcher in the first lab I worked in when I was 18, and having research experience through my own high school science fair is what helped me get that position.”

A big part of her career was being able to intern during the summer of Betts’ junior year and throughout her senior year at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Corvallis, Ore. “Because of that internship and the people I met along the way, I was able to get a job as an Environmental Scientist at the EPA once I returned to Oregon from my position at Cellana,” Betts said.

“Making those connections was really critical for my career path, and I’d highly encourage students to take advantage of their opportunities for internships and research now because you never know what opportunities it can lead to,” Betts said.

One of the students Betts mentored at West Linn High School was Mark Figueroa, junior, for his project on finding a visual way to perceive music, including, the correlation between frequencies and fire.

“Working with [Betts] was always something to look forward to because she was so nice she was always helpful,” Figueroa said. “Like when we had an idea she would always give us feedback and another idea to add on.

His reaction was a mix of shock and sadness. “I had been looking forward to doing ISEF my senior year, and having her help lead me the way that I wanted to go,” Figueroa said.

Her work here will not be forgotten. “It was such an honor to work with ISEF participants! I loved the opportunity to support exploration in science and engineering and to work one-on-one with students,” Betts said.

“I wouldn’t be where I am today without supportive, fantastic mentors,” Betts said, “and I hope that I was able to inspire students as I was inspired as a youth.”