Most graduate students I know have had a string of academic successes in their lives – they maintain good grades and are considered the ‘smart ones’ in the family. In fact, their hard-working nature has made them accustomed to being successful. Graduate school, however, tends to cause an abrupt end to their streak of success – a steep plunge into the abyss of failing scientific experiments. Scientific projects are infamously maligned by far too many reproducible failures. One can argue that it is the nature of scientific research – when you’re pushing the boundaries of the unknown, you are bound to encounter a few hurdles, right? Being a graduate student myself, I often wish I had been forewarned, so I could have equipped myself with the tools required to survive the storm.
Children may be completely oblivious to this, but they start experimenting with science way before elementary school. They are inadvertently exploring scientific principles while building contraptions, playing with Legos, blowing bubbles, and exploring a plethora of other ideas stemming from their inquisitive little minds.
Children in elementary school are observant, inquisitive and constantly ask questions. Science education in elementary schools is tailored to their inquisitiveness and enthusiasm. However, I believe a key element in promoting science education is to sustain this enthusiasm and inquisitiveness in the long run. Continue reading
This fall marks the beginning of the “Ask a Scientist” program, launched by SPEaC with open participation from a number of UT Southwestern trainees. The concept is simple: members of the public submit their questions directly to SPEaC during our outreach events and we answer them via YouTube videos made by members of the UTSW community. Questions have been submitted by children and adults, and they have included any science inquiry they want. All questions are valid; anything goes!
Since participating in the ASBMB 50-State Challenge and meeting with many of the Texas congressmen’s local staffers, SPEaC has started developing a productive collaboration with the congressional staffers in Representative Marc Veasey’s Dallas office. To this end, we were fortunate to host Representative Veasey’s lead field representative, Lorraine Birabil, at our last meeting held on December 3rd 2014. As Representative Veasey’s lead field representative, Ms. Birabil spends her time traveling around the 33rd district meeting constituents to learn about their interests. She also ensures that every call and letter coming through the Veasey office is logged to allow Congressmen Veasey to receive reports of constituents’ concerns. Ms. Birabil also emphasized that a combination of phone calls, letters, and office visits are the best way to communicate with Representative Veasey. Continue reading
Today, I would like to focus on the issue of retaining and promoting women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. This post will focus on academic STEM careers. Continue reading