Nebraska Academy of Sciences
Nebraska Association of Teachers of Science
Nebraska Junior Academy of Sciences

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Friend of Science Honorees

2017 Honorees

Kacie Baum
Omaha, NE

Kacie Baum is the Events and Science Outreach Coordinator at UNMC/Nebraska Science Festival Coordinator, where she brings science to the state through different outlets including Science Cafes, The Nebraska Science Festival, and much more.

She holds a BA in Journalism from UNO. How she went from wanting to write about celebrities to planning science events – most notably Science Cafes and The Nebraska Science festival (featuring past keynote’s Bill Nye, LeVar Burton, Reed Timmer and Jeff Corwin) - is still a mystery. Throughout the year you can also find her judging elementary science fairs or making DNA bracelets with the public, all in the name of science.

In 2009 PRSA awarded her Science Café program an Award of Merit for Public Service Programs. That year she also presented at the Omaha YP Summit on “How we made science sexy” to a packed crowd of young professionals explaining how she helped create the science café program in Omaha. In 2014, the Association of American Medical Colleges awarded the festival an Honorable Mention in the Special Events – Community Relations category. In 2015, the AAMC awarded her program, Science Café, with the Award of Excellence in the Shoestring Budget Category for Special Events - Community Relations.

Kacie has previously served as secretary of Joslyn’s Young Art Patrons and on the Omaha Community Playhouse’s Act II guild.  Currently she serves on the Omaha Performing Arts ‘40 Below’ advisory board and is the secretary for the Omaha Girls Rock board. In her free time, she also teaches fitness classes at gyms around Omaha. 

Todd Young
Wayne, NE

Dr. Todd Young hails from Minnesota and received his undergraduate degree in Physics & English from the University of Minnesota – Morris, his Master’s degree in Physics from Purdue University, and his Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln in Astrophysics.  He has worked at Wayne State College since receiving his doctorate in 1998 and is currently a full professor of physics and astronomy.  He teaches a variety of courses at Wayne State College, including university physics, astronomy, general education science, and astrophysics.  

In 2008, he became the director of the Fred G. Dale Planetarium, which has been a passion since that appointment.  The planetarium is currently one of the most technologically advanced and educationally versatile in the state, and was recent noted by the Omaha World Herald as one of the top 50 places to visit in Nebraska.  He has provided over a thousand of planetarium shows and astronomy lessons to tens of thousands of people over the years.  In 2010, he brought the Nebraska Science Bowl competitions to Wayne State College to help make sure that opportunities like the science bowl continue in order attract young people to science and mathematics; and as Todd is both a fan of trivia contests and a "certified" science nerd, it was a perfect fit.  He is currently the coordinator of the Rural Health Opportunities Program which guides students from rural Nebraska to a career as a health provider, like doctor, dentist, pharmacist, and nurse, in order to return to serve rural Nebraska.  This program has been a collaborative effort with the University of Nebraska Medical Center since 1990.  He also continues to be active with the Nebraska Junior Academy of Science - Northeast Regional competition, including being the lead coordinator of the event for a few years.

In 2008 he received the George Rebensdorf Teaching Excellence Award for the Nebraska State College System.  In the supporting materials for his nomination, it was noted that Dr. Young "constantly stresses the importance of physics as a tool for learning about the world around us" and continuously explores and investigates methods to better educate his students.  He also receives great reviews from his students regarding the rigor of his classes and his commitment to their success.

His scholarship and research interests include astronomy education, contributing content to numerous astronomy textbooks, RR Lyrae variable stars and the instability strip, and interactive astronomy lessons in the planetarium.  He also loves to bring physics and astronomy to the community with annual star parties and other similar events.  In his spare time he enjoys crosswords puzzles, watching movies, reading good science fiction, playing board games with his family, and, of course, observing the night sky.  He lives in Concord, Nebraska with his wife of 15 years Jamie, sons Carlyle and Dean, and daughter Josalynn.

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