As a first year Ph.D. student, Geissler was awarded a National Science Foundation GK-12 Graduate Teaching Fellowship which paired him with a science educator at Newark's Science Park High School. His time was spent observing classes, teaching modules on biology, anatomy and physiology, and talking with students about their educational opportunities. After only one year in his program, Geissler began to expand his network of fellow students, university educators, and local industry professionals with the mission of establishing an organization which encourages urban students to explore topics in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, medicine, and other related subjects. Keeping with the philosophies learned during his time as a National Science Foundation Graduate Teaching Fellow, Geissler continues to expand his network of volunteers, which he refers to as "Scientific Ambassadors", setting up opportunities for community outreach to promote the value of a good education.
A native of Westfield, NJ, William Schoenbach is a 2009 graduate of the University of Michigan with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology. Together with Geissler and Williams, Schoenbach has helped to build the Urban Scholar Society from a thought experiment with benevolent intentions into an organization that is actively engaged with the community. His passion for community-focused outreach was awakened early when he co-founded the Mandy Reichman Feeding Program with the Reichman family in 2002. Since its inception, the program has made nearly 250,000 sandwiches and distributed an additional 2,500 turkeys around the holiday season to families in need through Union County. The most important lesson to come from this formative experience is the ability to amplify results by partnering with like-minded organizations. The Mandy Reichman Feeding Program partners with Temple Emanu-El in Westfield for volunteers and facilities and the StreetLight Mission in Elizabeth for distribution. Although not a scientist by training like his co-founders, Schoenbach focuses on the overall strategic direction of the organization with a special emphasis on building mutually beneficial partnerships. His hope is that the Urban Scholar Society can become a vehicle to inspire a future generation of scholars by providing opportunities for scientific exploration to the under served urban community.
After graduating in 2009 from Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia PA with a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Biology and a minor in Interdisciplinary Healthcare Ethics, Geissler spent his summer taking introductory courses in biomedical engineering at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark NJ. Excited by this course work, he matriculated as a full time master's student with a focus in biomechanics and hasn't looked back since.
During his two years in the master's program, Geissler served as the Technology Officer and President of the Graduate Biomedical Engineering Society helping to line-up industry and university professional seminars exposing his peers to the vast opportunities presented to students pursuing degrees in engineering. After receiving his Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering from the New Jersey Institute of Technology, Geissler applied to the Biomedical Engineering Ph.D. program offers as a joint program between the New Jersey Institute of Technology and the Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences University, both in Newark NJ.
Edek Williams is a Ph.D. candidate in Department of Biomedical Engineering at Rutgers University. A Jamaican native, Williams immigrated to the United States at an early age, was educated in New York Public Schools and graduated with a Bachelors of Engineering in Biomedical Engineering from The City College of New York in 2010. While at City College, Williams led his fraternity, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., and other student organizations in service activities in the surrounding greater Harlem area. His curiosity in the workings of the human body was piqued by his parents’ careers in health services. This curiosity turned to conviction when he lost his father to Lymphoma. Williams’ decision to pursue a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering was biased by a pilot program funded by the National Institutes of Health, which mentored undergraduates from underrepresented backgrounds. His goal is to leave the chain of benevolence and opportunity that was afforded to him unbroken. Through Urban Scholar Society, Williams hopes that a future generation of scholars will find the confidence to take on their curiosities and to find more.