Other Outreach Events and Initiatives

Penpal program

Letters from CSHL scientists to OLMA students

In September 2018, WiSE Outreach began a WiSE Science Penpal Program with science research students at Our Lady of Mercy Academy of Syosset.

We paired 24 WiSE scientists with the high-school students for the 2018-2019 school year. The goal of this penpal program has been to provide these young women with the opportunity to connect with real-life scientists at CSHL and to answer their questions about daily life in the sciences.  It is important to expose them to the diverse paths and careers in science. In sharing our love of science with these young women, we hope to provide them with resources, guidance, and inspiration.

After the 3rd letters were dropped off, we checked in with some of the scientists to hear about their experience thus far.  Many expressed excitement in receiving their letters as a break from normal routine.

Shruti Iyer shared some thoughts on the penpal program with us,

“For me, the pen pal experience was great because it felt like I was writing letters to my past self.  My pen pal buddy got me reacquainted with that untarnished enthusiasm and passion for science that we all had starting out, which sometimes fades a little the older you get. At the same time I was able to advise her in things that I wished I had some guidance back then. So it’s a great time machine in a way that helps you revisit the past and help someone with their future!”

Our scientists are now waiting to receive their next letters. This program has been fun and exciting for everyone involved. The value of this sort of guidance and mentorship is undeniable and we hope to continue and expand our penpal program for the next school year. Hopefully we have successfully humanized scientists and have inspired these young scientists to pursue their scientific interests.  

WiSE Scientists for International Students

July 26, 2018

On July 26, 2018,  the DNA Learning Center hosted 60 students and teachers from China.  On July 26, two WiSE scientists were invited to discuss their research with the international group.   Our first featured WiSE scientist was WSBS graduate student Katie Meze from the Joshua-Tor Lab. Katie explained the importance of protein structure and introduced the students to the cutting-edge technology of cryogenic electron microscopy that she uses in her work with cancer-related protein complexes.  Our second featured speaker was post-doc Irene Casanova Salas from the Trotman Lab. She discussed the use of biomarkers in the exosomes of liquid biopsies as a tool for assessing whether a patient with prostate cancer will progress to metastasis.

This event provided a unique opportunity for these WiSE scientists to practice their presentation skills with an international audience.  They used many pictures, animations, and hand gestures to communicate with the students. Based on the students’ many questions that followed, their efforts in effective communication were more than successful.  The students were inspired and engaged as they asked questions about protein structure, using exosomes in cancer diagnosis, and other applications for the technologies Katie and Irene introduced. It was a rewarding experience that allowed us to put a spotlight on successful women in STEM and break down language barriers in science.  

by Cassidy Danyko

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