By Johannes Fahrmann
On Wednesday, March 6, 2013, the Graduate Student Organization (GSO), in collaboration with the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) and Cabell Midland High School hosted the first Science Café at the Robert C. Byrd Biotechnology Science. The intent of this café was to advocate scientific literacy and increased awareness for funding, while at the same time promoting scientific interest amongst our youth. A total of twenty three high school students from Cabell Midland High School attended this event. The event was tailored toward highlighting two key programs at Marshall University, the Biomedical Sciences Program (BMS) and the Forensics Program. Each program was given an opportunity to provide a unique perspective on behalf of the respective program as well as a “hands-on” interactive session.
Synopsis: The Biomedical Sciences Program
To facilitate a sense of excitement and opportunity, the BMS program focused on providing four (4) unique perspectives of the BMS Program. The first perspective was provided by Mrs. Diana Maue who discussed the overall arching goal of the BMS program and the vast research opportunities that the program provides. The second unique perspective was provided by Dr. Maria Serrat, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anatomy and Physiology, who gave an account of how she become fascinated with her field of interest and what the BMS can provide to potential future research scientists. The third and fourth perspectives were aimed to provide the viewpoints of current graduate students in the BMS program and how their road to research came into fruition. These viewpoints were provided by second year Ph.D. Kristeena Ray a student in the Cardiovascular Cluster, and Ph.D. Candidate Allison Wolf a student in the Cancer Cluster.
The second portion of the BMS segment entailed the use of “hands-on” interactive sessions. The purpose of these sessions was to provide participants with a unique opportunity to participate in various research related angles of the BMS Program. These interaction sessions were graciously hosted by Dr. Richard Egleton, an Associate Professor in the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology, and Dr. Wei Ping Zeng, an Associate Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology.
“I think the science café was an excellent opportunity for me to interact with high school students. This kind of event is a very good way to spark an interest in Science and hopefully after this, these students will want to pursue science as undergraduates.” said Dr. Egleton when asked about the importance of the ASBMB Outreach Café. Similarly, Dr. Zeng agreed on the importance stating that “it exposes the younger generation to scientific research and ideas.”
Synopsis: The Forensics Program
Following the BMS section, participants were given an opportunity to hear on behalf of the Forensics Program at Marshall University from Dr. Graham Rankin, a Forensic Scientist and Professor in Forensics Science Program. Students subsequently venture to the Crime Scene House located near the corner of 5th avenue and Hal Greer. Participants were provided a tour of the Crime Scene House where they were given the ability utilize various crime scene investigation equipment which help facilitate research in crime scene related topics such as latent fingerprints, footwear impressions and forensic photography. One of the participants continued to state that he enjoyed the event, especially the Forensic Sciences Crime Scene House, since he plans to study Forensic Science at Marshall in the coming Fall.
When asked about the overall response from the students, Myriaha Selbee, a collaborator and faculty teacher at Cabell Midland High School, stated “I heard nothing but positive remarks from my students” and that she was “very impressed with the amount of professional support that was allotted to my students” and hopes that future ASBMB Outreach Cafes will keep Cabell Midland High School in mind.
Additionally, one participant, when asked about the café, went on to say that “this is a wonderful program and I would love to continue coming. I have taken away information about the program and other career options”.
Overall, the ASBMB Outreach Café was a wonderful success. Future events will be aimed at further diversifying our target population and breaking out the café into more specific areas of interest.