Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Thursday, September 6, 2012
September 19th - Informational Meeting on The Young Scientist Program
The Young Scientist Program invites Students, Postdocs, Technicians, and PIs along with past and current volunteers to an informational lunch and activity fair on Wednesday, September 19th at 12pm in the King Center (7th floor Medical Library). Please RSVP if you can to Jennifer Mosher at 362-4841 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are not able to RSVP, still come anyway!
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
An Interview with Monica Tassone - Past YSP Summer Focus Participant
Monday, July 9, 2012
Interview with Keith Jacobs, July Volunteer of the Month
Monday, June 25, 2012
YSP Summer Focus Participants Visit the Howard & Joyce Wood Similation Center
Thursday, June 14, 2012
June Volunteer of the Month: Moriah Beck
Friday, June 8, 2012
YSP Welcomes Our 2012 YSP Summer Focus Program Participants
Anthony Beer - Cleveland NJROTC High School
Tyla Carter - Soldan International Studies High School
Jeniffer Garcia - Cleveland NJROTC High School
Torshawna Griffin - Cleveland NJROTC High School
Tiara Harris - Clyde C. Miller Career Academy
Sam Hunt - Metro High School
Malik Joseph - Vashon High School
Jaron Ma - Parkway West High School
Fowzia Osman - Rockwood Summit High School
Adela Redzic - Gateway High School
Vidhan Srivastava - Lindbergh High School
William Thurman - Soldan International Studies High School
Hannah Wiedner - Parkway Central High School
Caitlin Younge - Cahokia School of Choice High School
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Spotlight on the Microbiology Teaching Team
Monday, March 12, 2012
An Interview with YSP Blogger Peggy Ni - March Volunteer of the Month
This month the tables were turned as Peggy Ni was interviewed as our volunteer of the month for March! Peggy is a 4th year Immunology graduate student. She has been volunteering with YSP since the end of her first year as a graduate student, 3 years ago. Peggy joined YSP as a continuation of her science outreach during high school and college, when she taught a class for middle school girls on computer technology. After hearing great things about YSP’s program and organization, she contacted volunteers she knew, got on the list serve, and the rest is history. Her first experience was as a tutor for a Summer Focus student, an experience she found rewarding as she got to watch the progression of her student over the 8-week program.
Her latest endeavor has been writing the YSP Blog, a project she started and considers “my baby”. You see, scientific writing is Peggy’s passion and this blog she hopes is the first step towards a career in science writing. She sees herself as a writer at a major scientific journal or at a more public interest magazine one day. Peggy first approached Jen Mosher to discuss writing a blog last year as a way to build her writing portfolio, as Peggy has never had journalism experience. Having been a volunteer, Peggy knew how awesome and rewarding volunteering with YSP is and she and Jen recognized the benefits of using a blog to promote YSP’s experiences and special events to the Wash U and wider community. New students who are curious about YSP can log on to the website and with one click, access Peggy’s blog to get a feeling for what volunteering is like first hand. As a consequence of starting this blog, Peggy was invited to write a blog for MidSci, a local biotech company who recently started a partnership with YSP, improving her writing credentials.
In writing the blog, she has particularly enjoyed writing the Volunteer of the Month. She said, “It’s nice to profile someone exceptional every month. It just makes them feel good, I think.” One goal for the blog this summer is following the progress of a few Summer Focus students through the course of the program to share their perspectives as they learn the ins and outs of conducting research and presenting their work.
What does she feel about being interviewed herself? Well, she found the experience very different. “I really appreciate all the interviewees that I have interviewed in the past. I don’t know how they managed such succinct, clear answers but it is really difficult!” For now, it seems, Peggy is happy to do her part in promoting YSP through her writing.
Thursday, February 23, 2012
Interview with Erica Siebrasse, February Volunteer of the Month
Friday, January 13, 2012
January Volunteers of the Month: Brandon Holmes and Dan O'Brien of the Neuroscience Teaching Team
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
YSP Endowment for Science Literacy - Challenge
Thank you to all our YSP volunteers and supporters. You have done a great job this semester and we had a busy and successful semester thanks to all of your hard work.
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
December Volunteer of the Month: Stephanie Rodriguez
December Volunteer of the Month: Stephanie Rodriguez
Stephanie is a third year Ph.D. student in the Immunology Program. Her contributions to YSP are significant; she was an inspiring tutor for Summer Focus, she was an integral part in launching teaching kits for YSP, and she is also transitioning as the new Student Director.
Peggy Ni: What are the main duties of being the YSP Student Director?
Stephanie Rodriguez: Mostly you're the tying hand between all the different facets of YSP. Since everything is volunteer-based, it would be very easy for things to be really disjointed … and so as the coordinator the main job is to understand what every aspect is doing and how each fits together and make sure that all the parts work.
PN: So, a lot of administrative things?
SR: Yeah, being the go-to person in case faculty have questions about YSP or different organizations are interested in working with YSP. Instead of contacting all the volunteers, it's easier to go through one centralized person.
PN: Why did you decide to accept this position?
SR: YSP was one of the reasons I wanted to come to WashU to begin with, so my first year I just got as involved as I could. The more involved I became, the more I enjoyed it. And I like knowing what's going on with all of the different programs because I think they're all equally wonderful. It seemed like a really awesome way for me to be able to stay involved in all the programs. And, it gives me an opportunity to focus more on some things that are more personal to me but still be able to participate in all of them.
PN: You said all components and programs of YSP are equally wonderful, but could you describe some that you are most excited about?
SR: I think it's easiest to be excited about the Summer Focus Program because that's when you have the most interaction with our target audience – the students. These high school students get so excited about science and you can see them progress from week 1 to week 8. So I think that's the program that gets people the most excited, but I've been working a lot with TRP and the teaching kits. And the more I work with those programs, the more I see just how useful things like that are; you can see how important resources are for the teachers or all the hurdles they have to jump through to get these exciting things to their high school students. It's pretty fun to try to think what would get a high school student excited if you were going to bring in a demo to their classroom.
PN: Could you describe some topics that these teaching kits cover? I feel like it's one of the less publicized aspect of YSP.
SR: It is a new development that we started to initiate. At first it was just a bunch of volunteers brainstorming things we thought would be fun to do, things that would be easily accessible. So we started out with DNA extraction from fruit, and that's a pretty standard experiment. Lots of students have done it. And our challenge was to figure out a way to get the resources in a form that was sustainable so that classrooms that maybe didn't have a refrigerator to keep the strawberries could still do these experiments. We were able to work out using preserved fruit instead of fresh fruit. It's all those little things that we didn't realize would be hurdles! We like to keep them within household items; students really can relate to that. Science you can do in your kitchen is kind of fun because science often seems like one of those things you can't wrap your head around. The DNA extraction and surface tension [using soap and pepper] are two kits that we have and they're working out pretty well. And, they have DVDs in them that explain how the experiments are supposed to work. We're actually getting ready to load them on YouTube so that we can disseminate them more broadly. In the works now are making a battery out of lemons … and there are some volunteers working on kits involving osmosis and also some more physical science (wave motion and pendulum action). And we're also working in collaboration with a TRP Program teacher to develop a kit for environmental science about soil and water purity and the different properties of soil that make it useful for some plants.
And, as a group of volunteers, we're just thinking about what's cool. But what we want to be thinking is what's most useful to the St. Louis Public School system. Something we want to do is try to tailor these kits to Missouri curriculum standards so that it will be easier for teachers to implement these kits in their classrooms. So we try to ask teachers during the summer who participate in TRP, "What are the most difficult concepts you have engaging your students on, what are the most boring or the least fun things you have to do every year?" And then we as creative scientists can figure out a way to address those in a more fun way than a textbook.
PN: Could you talk about what some of the biggest challenges you foresee for YSP in the upcoming year?
SR: Our biggest challenge right now is funding. We were fortunate to have a large grant with HHMI, and now that's running out. We have a lot of applications with private and national organizations, and I think we're a very unique program so we're competitive for these outreach-oriented funding opportunities. We need to start collating all of our evaluation materials and synthesizing how effective we've been, showing we're an organization worthy of their dollars. And then the next biggest hurdle, which I also think is a blessing, is that YSP is growing – more people who want to participate some way in YSP. This is the first year that YSP has participated in the SLPS [St. Louis Public School] Professional Development Day, and that day we were able to talk to every high school science teacher who teaches in St. Louis. So, we've increased the number of teachers who may want teaching teams to visit them, who may want to participate in TRP, who will encourage their students to participate in Summer Focus, and who will be asking to use these teaching kits that we develop for them. I think as our initiatives grow, demand also grows. I think our next big hurdle will be to maintain the quality of our outreach that we've been doing on a small scale as demand is growing. But, that's a great problem to have! The volunteers are excited and passionate, and if any organization can hone in the volunteer base to meet these demands, it's definitely YSP.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
YSP 2011 Fall Nano Medical School Features Dr. Ellen Lockhart
The YSP Fall Nano Medical School on Tuesday, December 6th featured a talk given by Dr. Ellen Lockhart entitled "“Anesthesia During Labor and Delivery”. Dr. Lockhartreceived her undergraduate degree from Wellesley College and her medical degree from the University of Texas-Southwestern Medical School in 1993. She completed a residency in Anesthesiology at Washington University School of Medicine where she served as chief resident, followed by a fellowship in Obstetric Anesthesia at Duke University. She is currently an Associate Professor and Vice Chairman in the Department of Anesthesiology. Her clinical activity includes the care of patients on the general and obstetric anesthesia services at Barnes-Jewish and Missouri Baptist Hospitals, and in the center for preoperative assessment and planning. Her research interests include the diagnosis and clinical outcomes obstructive sleep apnea during pregnancy.
Friday, November 18, 2011
Women in Science Day 2011
Written by Peggy Ni – YSP volunteer
On November 2nd, 2011, YSP and the St. Louis chapter of the Association for Women in Science hosted the 5th annual Women in Science Day. This one-day event brings high school girls from the St. Louis Public School District to the Washington University Danforth and Medical School campuses. On this day, the students attend panel discussions to hear from medical school students and scientists in different stages of their careers about why they followed the career paths they are currently on, how they got to where they are right now, and what to expect in medical school or graduate school. Additionally, a series of activities were planned for the students to choose and participate in including demonstrations in chemistry, computer science, earth and planetary science, ecology, evolution, forensics, genetics, neuroscience, physics and tours of the anesthesiology simulator, the neuroimaging lab, and the microbiology lab.
The panel sessions presented an incredibly unique opportunity for the students to learn about careers in medicine or research directly from the people in these fields. In the Med School 101 Panel that I observed, a group of 4 medical students representing the range of different options one could pursue in this career path (for instance, one panelist was doing a research year, another was applying for residency positions), introduced themselves and answered questions. Some of the issues the high school students were very interested in and asked about included whether it would be a good idea to take time off between college and medical school, what the hardest part of medical school was, and what an MD/PhD program is. In turn, the panelists gave great advice to the students, suggesting that getting a job in the years between college and medical school would be a great way to experience real life after roughly 16 years of being a student. Additionally, one panelist talked about her experiences shadowing people to see what being in medicine is like and explained that doing this after college would be beneficial for knowing whether to even pursue medical school. If the girls interested in medicine were hoping to escape taking tests in their futures, they were disappointed as the panelists agreed that exams were probably the hardest part about medical school. Another difficult aspect that was brought up that I never thought about is figuring out what to do after medical school and which area to specialize in. Luckily, these girls have the rest of high school and plenty of time and life experiences before needing to make that decision!
Likewise, the Career Panel invited women in science from diverse specialties and different stages in their lives. For instance, the panel had experience and could offer words of wisdom in physical therapy to nursing to market research. Additionally, we got to hear from people in established jobs versus someone still at school. What I thought was a helpful part of the session was when the panelists talked about the details that high school students could relate to – such as what they liked and disliked about their jobs, the hours of work that were expected, and even general life advice (make good friends who will study with you and push you yet support you). All in all, Women in Science Day was a successful event that offered a glimpse of what science would be like for high school girls contemplating their futures after graduation.
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
November Volunteers of the Month: Molly Gibson and Jamie Kwasnieski
Recently, YSP launched its new website, prompted mainly by feedback received at the 20th Anniversary celebration, including insightful comments from many of the day's renowned speakers. Both conceptually and technologically different, the current version now has a greater focus on the student-run aspect of YSP to better promote the group – as suggested by Dr. Bruce Alberts – and has become easier to run and more compatible with Internet browsers. Molly Gibson and Jamie Kwasnieski are two YSP volunteers who rose to the challenge of designing and launching the new website. It seems Molly and Jamie were perfect for this task, as both have experience with computer science and were excited by the creative outlet this web design project would provide.
From their initial ideas to the actual launch date, approximately 3 months were invested in the website. Jamie credits Albert Mao, who created YSP's previous website, for the original structure and content that made her and Molly's lives much easier since it provided a foundation to build on. That being said, significant time and effort were put in to thoroughly consider the direction to take in order to make the site better. For instance, a priority of the new version was to make it easy for all target audiences of YSP – namely students, teachers, and volunteers – to access information. Thus, Molly and Jamie decided to integrate sliding pictures on the main page for visitors to find the information they need. Ease of access was also increased by building the website from a web template found at OSTemplates.com that allows all browsers to support the site. Additionally, the website has become a lot more interactive, with pictures of volunteers and quotes featured on the sides of the pages as well as links to Facebook and YouTube on the top. These features allow viewers to read what the student director has to say or listen to the history of YSP from one of its founders and thus truly understand and appreciate that YSP is a volunteer-run group. This emphasis on the student-run aspect is Molly's favorite part of the new website. "The passion of the volunteers is truly what makes an organization like YSP so successful," she says.
Moving forward, Jamie reveals that she and Molly are working on an additional feature of the website that specifically targets teachers in the St. Louis Public Schools system. "I am excited about this idea, because I think it will help YSP engage new teachers, thus becoming a more effective organization," Molly says. Currently, both Jamie and Molly maintain the website. They have cleverly designed it so that updating it is easy and effortless. For instance, the News and Events page is actually a feed from the blog. When other people in the future take on the responsibilities of site maintenance, Jamie and Molly have set up an efficient system for a seamless transition!
Monday, October 10, 2011
Interview with Dr. Matthew Ndonwi - YSP's October Volunteer of the Month
Written by Peggy Ni - YSP Volunteer
Peggy Ni: How did you get involved with YSP in the first place?
Matthew Ndonwi: The very first time I got involved was when Jen Mosher sent out some sort of notice for volunteers for the TRP program, and that was way back in 2007 or so.
PN: And could you talk about what you do for the TRP program as well as Winning Young Hearts and Minds?
MN: For the TRP program, initially I started as a mentor for one of the teachers when I first joined TRP – and actually I did that twice. And then subsequently I joined the Organizing Committee. And since then, I have been part of that committee helping with recruiting teachers, interviewing them, placing them in labs, taking part in all the programs throughout the summer while they are here. Sometimes I also help with the Summer Focus program, like part of the Boot Camp. On the other side is Winning Young Hearts and Minds, a program that I started. I think what really inspired me to initiate that program was the fact that I realized most of our YSP programs are hands-on, trying to bring in these students by hands-on work. But I also felt the need to kind of engage them in dialogue. It's a 1 hour interactive PowerPoint, and I've also adapted it to 30 min. Initially it was meant as 1 hour for high school students but when I started presenting it, then it became so popular that I felt like 30 min. [would be good] for 6th, 7th, and 8th graders. It's kind of a 3-part presentation. The first part of the presentation is trying to get the students introduced to science – demystify science from what, at the time I meet them, they think science is, trying to get them to see practical aspects rather than just what they see in movies which is not an accurate presentation. So I walk them through a series of different careers and then somewhere in the middle of the talk I engage them into what the call of science really is, … the different subjects they study in school – math, biology, and physics. And I kind of give them tips on how they can become any of the scientists in those various careers. And finally, I use myself as an example … of what I'm trying to encourage them to do. Despite every obstacle that they might have ahead of them in starting science, it's something that's doable. So I kind of just tell them my personal story of how I became a scientist.
PN: How often do you do this presentation?
MN: So, I wouldn't say it's very regular. Sometimes we'll have high seasons or low seasons. What I would say is for every year I do about maybe 10 to 20 outings since I started. So I present to students who come here for field trips, I go to classrooms, and there is collaboration with the Science Center. … And most recently I was contacted by Harris-Stowe to go present to them, and that was just last week. It's interesting – it started as a high school thing that has gone down to middle-school and now freshmen in college.
PN: Well, clearly the message is broadly applicable.
PN: Can you tell me about your most memorable experience while volunteering?
MN: I would say every year my most memorable experience with the program is when the Summer Focus students present their research. I think that's outstanding – to see them come in kind of naïve and see them go out like almost polished scientists when you listen to them present their talk. I don't think there's anything stronger than that.
PN: You've been volunteering for 4 years. Throughout the years, how do you find the time to still remain committed year after year?
MN: Initially, the main thing that attracted me to the program is the interest in the program. I don't think that interest can be taken away. I'm a full time researcher as well – and I do teach one course in the fall and one course in the summer – but … research is one of those things that are really flexible.
PN: Is there anything new you want to incorporate with the TRP Organizing Committee or with your presentation in the upcoming future?MN: With the Presentation … I think over the past 4 years I've kind of improved it every year but the main thing that I really want to do is to see how I can capture more people … so what I was thinking of is to set up a website where I could incorporate maybe resources for students … [and] a video streaming of the presentation
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
YSP Summer Focus Program - Applications Now Available
Summer Focus provides outstanding high school students with funded research internships at the Washington University Medical Center. Each student works directly with two graduate students, the mentor and the tutor. The mentor works one-on-one with the student in the lab on a specific project, while the tutor prepares the student for their research experience. In order to be eligible a student must currently be a junior in High School and attend a St. Louis City/County/Metro area school.
Monday, October 3, 2011
Fostering diversity in science and public science literacy
Our YSP student director, Kate Chiappinelli, wrote an article on YSP for ASBMB Today (AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR BIOCHEMISTRY AND MOLECULAR BIOLOGY). It appears in the October edition of this publication and also on their website.
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
YSP and St. Louis Science Center Offer 5th Installment of Family Med School Basics
Back by popular demand, YSP and the St. Louis Science Center have partnered once again to present Family Med School Basics. In its fifth year, Family Med School Basics offers 4 hands-on medical training sessions for children, 5th grade and older and their families. Participants learn about human anatomy and physiology as well as disease through demonstrations provided by the YSP Anatomy teaching team. To coincide with the Body World and the Brain exhibit currently featured at the Science Center our first session focused on the brain and nervous system. YSP volunteers consisting of graduate/medical students, postdocs, and undergraduate students presented demonstrations to a full capacity group on Brain Anatomy, Visual Distortion, Proprioception, and Tactile Sensation. Additional sessions of Family Med School Basics will be held at the Science Center from 1:30-3:30 pm on September 24th (heart and cardiovascular system), October 29th (lungs and respiratory system), and November 19th (digestive system).
Monday, August 29, 2011
Spotlight on the Chemistry Teaching Team
Written by Peggy Ni - YSP Volunteer
I recently sat down with Carl Franz, who is a 4th year Ph.D. student in the Molecular Microbiology Department and head of the Young Scientist Program's Chemistry Teaching Team, to learn more about the kinds of demos he and his fellow volunteers put on and why he dedicates his spare time doing this. In general, the demos can be split into two types. One is metaphorical, in which non-chemical items are used to represent a chemical reaction. For instance, there is a demo, "Toothpick-ase," that teaches the students how enzymes find their substrates. The students' hands are the enzyme, and the toothpicks are the substrate. The enzyme "catalyzes" its substrate when the students use their hands to break the toothpicks. Decreased temperature slows down catalysis, which is symbolized when the students must break the toothpicks in cold water. The second type of demos involves actual chemical reactions, but these experiments utilize common items that can be found around the house. "That way, students can relate to these things, as opposed to having something like sodium dodecyl sulfate," Carl explains. One example Carl says is particularly popular among the students is using hard boiled eggs to tarnish silver, a process that occurs as a result of the sulfur in the eggs which is similar to the atmospheric sulfur that convert silver to a dull, dark color over time. Carl says that the students get really excited by this demo because the results are so visual, allowing them to truly appreciate why, for instance, Grandma polishes the silver every year. Carl has some ideas for future experiments that could possibly be implemented in future outings. One that he's done in the past with a different organization involves collecting french fries from different fast food places and then extracting saturated fat from them. The amount of fat can then be quantitated and compared amongst the various restaurants. This demo goes along perfectly with the other chemistry demos since it is similarly easy for the kids to relate to, as I am sure we all go to fast food places every now and then.
So, why is it so important that there are volunteers willing to be a part of teaching teams like the chemistry one to go on these outings and explain how science works to students? Carl provides some of his reasons that may also resonate with other volunteers. He genuinely likes working with young students and thinks it is a worthwhile goal to perform demos so that students can take away a tidbit of knowledge from them. He admits that he (and, I am sure, most scientists) does hope to convert students into becoming future scientists. But, he believes that it is not the most important thing. Rather, it is crucial to teach students the scientific method and critical thinking skills so that they can intelligently tackle controversial topics such as vaccination, global warming, and evolution. With such a huge divide between people who believe that vaccination is necessary and that global warming and evolution occur versus those who maintain that it is not important or that they do not exist, it's important for these kids – many who will be leaders of the next generation – to sort out what is true and then implement sound science policy. Even if the kids don't have careers directly related to science in their futures, Carl maintains that what the teaching team teaches is still applicable. "You don't have to be a scientist by career to put the scientific method in your life," Carl says. The hard work and efforts of YSP teaching teams play a huge role in allowing students to navigate the media intelligently and think critically about scientific topics as well as other subjects in general, imparting an invaluable life lesson to these students.