Segerstrom Science Center Celebrates 10 Years of Advancing STEM

From local fifth graders programming robots to Azusa Pacific University science majors conducting hands-on research in laboratories, Segerstrom Science Center has greatly impacted countless students, scholars, and visitors since its opening on September 3, 2009. Home to student learning, community events, and scientific discoveries, the 72,000-square foot, three-story facility has advanced Christian higher education and promoted STEM in the local community and beyond.

“As we observe Segerstrom’s 10-year milestone, we first and foremost thank God for His provisions and blessings throughout the years, as well as extend gratitude to our donors and supporters.” said Louise Huang, PhD, assistant dean in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and director of the Center for Research in Science. “In this spirit, we celebrate the many accomplishments of the past decade as we engage with the community to envision the next.”

When Segerstrom opened, 360 biology, chemistry, mathematics, and physics majors utilized the student study and community areas, lecture hall, and more than 60 classrooms and laboratories, including nuclear magnetic resonance and electron microscope rooms. Just two years later, nearly 700 students filled the facilities. With the influx of students and availability of resources, 13 new undergraduate and graduate programs emerged over the years, including bachelor’s degrees in allied health with integrated credentials, applied math, and engineering and master’s degrees in biotechnology and applied statistics.

“The Segerstrom Science Center brought new opportunities and hopes for faculty: there were dedicated lab facilities with research-grade equipment and an increasing number of eager students willing to take on the rigors of STEM coursework,” said Donald Isaak, PhD, executive director of the Office of Research and Grants, former associate dean in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and department chair of math and physics.

Whether studying regenerative limbs, developing drone-detecting software, or investigating immunotherapeutic approaches to combat cancer, STEM students and faculty rose to the occasion, conducting pertinent research made accessible through Segerstrom’s facilities. Discoveries and progress made on APU’s campus contributes to the worldwide scientific conversation, while also bringing innovation to the local community.

Azusa Pacific opens doors for students to enter the evolving, innovative world of STEM careers. Research shows more than two million STEM jobs were projected to remain unfilled in 2018, and open positions would continue to grow 13 percent by 2024. Azusa Pacific creates opportunity for students to pursue this expanding field, ushering in the next generation of scientists, engineers, mathematicians, software developers, and researchers.

In addition to enriching the education of students, Segerstrom extends its impact into the San Gabriel Valley. Local youth excitedly flood the hallways and classrooms a few times a year, engaging in hands-on STEM activities with APU faculty and students. Residents of the surrounding area attend Center for Research in Science events, listening to expert speakers discuss relevant topics—from gene editing to artificial intelligence—and facilitate dialogue between ethical, theological, and scientific perspectives. College students from their respective Southern Californian Christian schools gather in Segerstrom to compete at the annual Association of Christian Schools International Science Fair. Every year since its opening, Segerstrom continues to reach the community, both far and wide, in a celebration of science.

“Our STEM departments intentionally service and engage with the community at large, while integrating our faith and promoting science,” said Huang. “Outreach events provide an opportunity to share our programs, facilities, and expertise with our neighbors.”

In honor of Segerstrom’s impact throughout the last decade, APU will host a year of STEM celebration with a wide variety of events, found on the Segerstrom 10th anniverary monthly schedule.