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Dr. Serena  McCalla

Dr. Serena McCalla

Founder of iResearch Corporation


Serena has dedicated her life to the advancement of science and to science education with the nation’s most promising youth. Dr. Serena McCalla was raised in New York City, and fell in love with science as an elementary school student. She earned her Bachelors Degree in Biological Sciences/African American and African studies from State University of New York, at Binghamton University with the intention of becoming an ER physician. However, she quickly realized she was more inspired by research than medicine. To satisfy her craving for deeper information, Dr. Serena McCalla earned a MS degree in Hematology/Microbiology, a PhD that explored the use of diagnostic tests to improve the understanding of genetics, photosynthesis, and respiration in secondary and collegiate courses. Read More >

Dr. McCalla began teaching science shortly after earning her BS degree and a remarkable thing happened. In the classroom, her appreciation for the sciences became more profound as the students exposed her to nuances of various scientific disciplines including material science, nanotechnology, computer science, cellular biology and physics. Dr. McCalla is currently the Science Research Coordinator for Jericho UFSD, Jericho, NY.  Since assuming the position in 2008 Dr. McCalla has engineered Jericho High School’s Science Research curriculum to become one of the preeminent science research programs on Long Island. Under Dr. McCalla’s tutelage the school is lauded annually for its continued success in the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) and Regeneron (formally Intel) Science Talent Search (STS) competitions with 74 semifinalists and 12 finalists in the last 10 years.

Dr. McCalla recently had the unique experience of participating as a principal subject in a documentary entitled Science Fair. The immensely likeable film chronicles the importance of science fairs in the high school learning experience and highlights the trials, tribulations and successes of Jericho High School students in a variety of science competitions (the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), Siemens Competition, Junior Science and Humanities (JSHS) Competition, Regeneron Science Talent Search (STS), etc.). The documentary was selected for and premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah and was honored by winning the festival’s first ever overall Festival Favorite Award. The film was subsequently purchased by National Geographic.

A natural competitor, Dr. Serena McCalla is not only a science research professional and enthusiast she also considers herself a science geek and competition supporter. She is the President of the New York State Science and Engineering Fair (NYSSEF) because she believes in the necessity of promoting student excellence and their accompanied recognitions in science. She is also the founder of iResearch Corporation, the parent company of iResearch Foundation, iResearch Institute and iResearch Science where she shares her research practices with educators and students from around the globe. The iResearch Foundation and iResearch Institute promote science research method training, review of fundamental and advanced biology and chemistry by conducting laboratory experimentation to test novel hypotheses. The iResearch Institute promotes research science learning and educational prowess of all students but focuses on underserved students. The iResearch Institute also provides a bootcamp review of the scientific method and research method practices through a growing summer research program. The scientific training of these students encourages them to a) systematically address limitations in their processing of the scientific method, b) allows for conducting of novel experimentation, and c) promotes expertise in presenting and writing journal worthy papers. A primary strength in iResearch Institute is that it parallels the environment Dr. McCalla built at Jericho UFSD. The culture of her classroom and lab brings forth copious avenues to help students excel in science, math, and engineering research. She enjoys that each day provides a new opportunity to encourage students to explore and impact the future of science and society. The pivotal goal is to have student learning and works extend past successes in their universities and ultimately manifest themselves in the global arena. Dr. McCalla believes these works will propel this generation of students to improve life on this planet as we know it. Dr. McCalla is the coordinator of a world renown science research program where she has designed a science research program that is lauded annually for its continued success in international and national competitions. Dr. McCalla is also a principal subject in the Sundance Film Festival award winning and Emmy nominated documentary Science Fair

Dr. McCalla has earned numerous awards for teaching and mentoring such as the U.S Presidential Scholar Program Teacher Recognition Award (2017 & 2010), the Distinguished Teacher Award from the Harvard Club of Long Island (2016 & 2012), the Teacher of Merit award earned annually from Regeneron/Intel Science Talent Search (2018-2010), received an honorary minor planet (named serenamccalla) from MIT Lincoln Laboratory, and the U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force funded Outstanding Teacher Award in association with the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS). Dr. McCalla’s students have won virtually all STEM competitions that are publicly accessible regionally, nationally and internationally. She hopes to continue to foster the brilliance and determination of future scientists. In addition, she encourages her students to follow her quote- “if you dream it, complete the work to make your dream reality”. Read Less ^

Speaker Videos

Educating Future Scientist

Science Fair Trailer

On Science Fair and Helping Shape Young Scientific Minds

Defining Your Own Future

On CBS New York

Speech Topics

Educating & Empowering the Scientists of Tomorrow, Today

Great teachers do a lot more than give exams and homework; they seek to inspire, influence, motivate, ask questions and challenge their students. Dr. Serena McCalla became a scientist and a teacher by following her passions and fostering her own curiosity about the world around her, and she strives to do the same for her students. In this keynote, Dr. McCalla shares how running 21st century classrooms and drawing on the wealth of technology and knowledge accessibility of our modern era can help to ignite the spark in students interested in pursuing the opportunities presented by science today. Most of all, she encourages teachers to facilitate and guide students towards dreaming about what might become possible tomorrow.

Defining Your Future: The 5 P’s

Dr. Serena McCalla originally studied to be an ER doctor and then a researcher. So how did she find her true calling, as a science research teacher? By leading with inspiration, intuition and passion! Serena discusses how she refused to limit herself or her students and knew that her best investments in life would be spent fulfilling her dreams in science. As a leader and role model for students, educators and professionals in STEM and beyond, Dr. McCalla is regularly asked how she maintains her success and electrifying energy for her career. Her approach is simple- the 5 P’s: Passion, Patience, Purpose, Perseverance and Prioritization. 

The Methods & Madness Behind Running a Successful Science Research Program

Dr. Serena McCalla recognized early on that science was suffering from a bad reputation amongst students, who thought the subject was difficult, boring, or inaccessible. However, Serena knew it did not have to be any of those things, if taught innovatively. Sharing lessons learned while working at Jericho High School on Long Island, Dr. McCalla brings audiences on the journey of how she catapulted their science research program into one of the preeminent curriculum models around. She was recognized in the Disney ® National Geographic film, Science Fair.  She believes the best science research programs must establish the importance of asking questions and encouraging young adults to follow their passions and achieve goals others deem impossible. Serena’s record shows that she has the secret sauce for making science equal parts fun, challenging and edifying for students.

Discovering Diversity & Equity in the STEM Universe

STEM fields are expanding rapidly as our world becomes more and more driven by the incredible capacities of technology. With science continually on the forefront of innovation, it has become crucial for diverse groups of people to feel included in what was historically a privileged and male-dominated field. Dr. Serena McCalla started the iResearch Institute to break down the barriers of access for children, especially girls, who want to get involved in science. Taking pride in being a “new” role model for little girls who could see themselves in her, Serena knows that our entire society stands to benefit when diverse perspectives have a seat at the table, and so she continues to fight for diversity and equity in the STEM universe!