Wednesday, January 27, 2010

STEM careers, how do we appeal to our youth?

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) careers are failing to attract today's youth.  Why? This concern is briefly explored in the January 27, 2010 Herman Trend Alert, STEM Grads and Competitiveness, which says that,

"our youth (seem) to revere the accomplishments of sports celebrities and rock stars, while our scientific geniuses (go) virtually unrecognized. More recently, United States President Barack Obama at his Whitehouse summit for youth echoed Kamen's words, himself promoting the study of the STEM topics as a matter of competitiveness." 
Competitiveness, eh?  So STEM careers have to compete for the admiration of our youth against Kobe and Beyoncé??  Oh boy, that is a tough battle.  So, I prose two questions:
1. To STEM professionals, what can we do to get our young people interested in STEM careers?
2. To young people, what can STEM professionals do to get you interested in STEM careers?
I am going to take a stab at Question #1 myself. I know from personal experience that young people do not exactly view STEM careers as "cool," UNTIL they learn more about what STEM professionals do either through presentations or hands-on activities. So, I believe that exposure is the key.  Unfortunately, young women and minorities are less likely to be exposed to STEM careers.  I was not exposed to careers in STEM until I was a junior in high school through an outreach program that allowed me to shadow a clinical lab researcher at a local hospital.  Until that experience, I did not know any scientists or what their jobs entailed.  This experience greatly influenced my current career path as a biomedical researcher.  From experiences like this Bottom line: Exposure MUST happen sooner.

Want to learn about STEM careers? Then check out these links below!

Browse Occupations Find details like wages, education requirements, and job demand. Create an Occupation Profile by selecting “Explore Careers” and then “Browse” under “Occupations.” 
O*NET’s STEM Occupations View the full list of STEM occupations. Select a job title to learn more.  
Career Voyages Explore career options and education requirements in emerging, high-growth industries and in-demand occupations. 
What Do You Like? Learn how your interests and favorite school subjects match careers. This Web site can help you make informed decisions about careers, education, and training.
Links courtesy of CareerOneStop.

2010 Science Symposium Jan 29-30 to discuss K-12 STEM-related education!


Science educators and thought leaders from across the country will examine the importance of technology in the classroom with focus on national STEM initiative and 21st-century skill-building

NEW YORK, January 25, 2010McGraw-Hill Education’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Learning Solutions Center is bringing together a group of the nation’s top science educators January 29-30, 2010 at the University of Michigan-Dearborn for a two-day symposium to address some of the most important issues in K-12 science education including the power of technology in the classroom and how school districts can incorporate new and emerging technologies in their instruction. These issues, which are at the forefront of the Obama administration’s Educate to Innovate STEM initiative, are part of McGraw-Hill Education’s larger efforts to help increase students’ interest and achievement in science and math, provide them with digital learning solutions and enhance their ability to compete in today’s global economy.

The event, “2010 Science Symposium,” will convene science educators and curriculum leaders from school districts across the country along with university professors and industry thought leaders to discuss issues including:

  • The implications of technology on classroom instruction
  • Transforming classroom instruction with interactive whiteboards and other digital tools
  • Using student polling technologies to support data-driven decision making
  • Evaluating Web-based science content
  • Utilizing digital imaging in the science classroom
Featured guest speakers include, among others, Dr. Richard H. Moyer, author and professor of science education and natural sciences at the University of Michigan, who will present “The Technology of the Ball Point Pen” and Dr. JoAnne Vasquez, a member of the National Science Board and past president of the National Science Teachers Association, who will present “A View from the Top – A National Perspective on Technology and Science Instruction.”

“Today’s teachers are embracing digital tools for the effective delivery of science instruction and are seeing the benefits these technologies generate by making classes more engaging, difficult concepts easier to comprehend and exposing students to worlds beyond their classrooms,” said Michael Comer, national marketing manager in the McGraw-Hill School Education Group specializing in science education. “The symposium will assemble our nation’s science education leaders for an exchange of rich ideas where the participants can weigh in on current technologies, discuss their effectiveness and share best practices for implementing them.”

McGraw-Hill’s symposium partners include:

  • Smart Technologies: Will demonstrate the uses of the Smart Board and will include StudentWorks/TeacherWorks/Interactive Chalkboard/Classroom Presentation Toolkit/Internet

  • Turning Point Technologies: Will provide classroom assessment opportunities with interactive response pads (“clickers”) and will include Interactive Chalkboard/Classroom Presentation Toolkit/Test Generator

  • Science Kit: Will provide hands-on demonstrations of Digital Imaging Devices (digital microscopes) and will use activities from K-12 Science programs (life, earth and physical science examples)

  • Vernier Software: Will provide hands-on demonstrations on the use of Probeware and Data Collection Devices and will include activities from K-12 Science programs (life, earth and physical science examples)

  • American Museum of Natural History: Will discuss the variety and approach to online Professional Development Courses. They will model course format and offerings as related to the elementary, middle school and high school markets

  • National Science Digital Library: Will demonstrate their collection of web-based science resources for teachers as related to the elementary, middle school and high school markets
Held at the University of Michigan at Dearborn, minutes away from Detroit, the symposium will honor the tradition of innovation and technological advancement that characterizes the university and metro Detroit area.
Editor’s Notes: The symposium is open to news media. McGraw-Hill Education’s Art Block, STEM senior vice president, and Michael Comer, longtime science educator, as well as guest speakers are available for interviews to discuss the symposium and larger trends in science education. Content from the symposium can be made available to news media upon request.

About the McGraw-Hill STEM Learning Solutions Center
The McGraw-Hill Education STEM Learning Solutions Center helps students master essential math skills, develop competence with technology, understand science and math concepts, and learn critical thinking and analysis. McGraw-Hill’s PreK-12 programs and digital platforms prepare students for jobs in today’s global economy.

About McGraw-Hill Education
McGraw-Hill Education, a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies (NYSE: MHP), is a leading global provider of print and digital instructional, assessment and reference solutions that empower professionals and students of all ages. McGraw-Hill Education has offices in 33 countries and publishes in more than 65 languages. Additional information is available at

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Empowering Women in Science and Engineering (EWISE) video

Great video produced by Cornell University discussing how featured panelists attain work-life balance, including how they incorporate children into their overall career goals. Watch and get some great info! Note: each video is about 1 hour in length.

Empowering Women in Science and Engineering (EWISE) Part 1

Empowering Women in Science and Engineering (EWISE) Part 2

Monday, January 25, 2010

Increasing minorities in STEM faculty positions

What is being done to increase the numbers of underrepresented minorities, including African Americans, Alaskan Natives, Native Americans, HIspanic Americans, and Native Pacific Islanders, in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) faculty positions? Well, based on the article, From Grad School to a Job: How to Get Underrepresented Minorities into the S&T Workforce by Molly McElroy, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) recently hosted a conference on December 10-11, 2009 to discuss this issue and to, as the article says, "explore new ideas for achieving the goal."  These ideas included combining the minority-targeted programs sponsored by AGEP (Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate) so that more minorities can interact with each other and "widen mentoring possibilities." The article goes on to explore the underlying reasons for less minorities in faculty positions, which includes the time it takes to achieve a faculty position, which often "can deter students and encourage them to seek better-paying industry positions." To read the complete article, click here.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Attend the SACNAS 2010 conference with a travel scholarship for minorities!

I was looking for opportunities to attend a conference this year and found this video that showcases the goals of SACNAS (Society for Advancing Hispanics/Chicanos and Native American in Science) as an organization in general and what can be expected from attending the SACNAS National Conference, which will be held September 30- October 3, 2010 in Anaheim, CA.  If you are interested in attending the conference, apply for a SACNAS Travel Scholarship before April 29, 2010, which will cover your hotel and roundtrip airfare to/from Anaheim.  Both undergraduate and graduate students are eligible.  Also, if you are not of Hispanic/Chicano or Native American heritage, do not be discouraged to apply for the travel scholarship! SACNAS supports all minority scientists, which is made evident on their website:

"SACNAS serves, supports, and is made up of researchers, students, educators, and administrators at all levels of education and career stage from diverse ethnic, racial, gender, cultural, and sexual orientation backgrounds."
For more details, visit the SACNAS website!

Google's JourKnol, an alternative for publishing in science academia

How to Write and Publish a Scientific Paper (How to Write and Publish a Scientific Paper (Day))The phrase "publish or perish" makes me shudder.  In my field, you can be the hardest worker, conduct the most exciting research, but if you do not publish your findings in a high impact journal, then it is as if you did not accomplish anything.  As I near completion of my PhD studies, "publish or perish" resounds in my ears every single day.  I know that the future of my career (new positions, ability to get funding, etc.) will depend on which scientific peer-reviewed journal my four plus years of research gets published in.  In about a month, my manuscript will be written and submitted to a journal.  If I am extremely lucky, then it will be accepted and published.  The likelihood of this happening is slim and the next best case scenario is that reviewers may request additional experiments prior to publication.  The worst that can happen is that the manuscript is rejected and I may have to re-submit my manuscript to a different journal for publication.  And so this is the process that we researchers go through to simply share our research with others.  Well, actually we go through this process so that we will have the most crucial evidence of our worth as researchers, our publication(s)... in hopefully a top-tier journal, of course. This is just how it works, right? 

Well, maybe not for long because I just came across this product that Google offers called JourKnol, which may one day become an alternative to the traditional publishing forum utilized in academia. JourKnol is different because as the article JourKnol challenges the medical journals' stronghold states,

"the author simply creates the content, loads it in, and clicks “Publish” – no peer review, no rejection, no delay, and no relinquishing copyright. And, from the moment they publish their Knol, authors...could upload the information and publish it and still get peer-reviewed. 
But how would publishing in JourKnol affect your career?? Will the scientific community value your research if it is published in JourKnol? The article, JourKnol challenges the medical journals' stronghold, addresses this concern by saying that the,
"traditional journals’ enviable position as the sole arbiters of the quality and impact of an author’s work may be challenged by web-derived measures of the impact of individual “articles,” such as number of hits, number of links, and reader ratings and comments.... The point is this: peer review, that most sacred of academic rituals, might ultimately be replaced by real-time rankings by experts"
To read the complete article, click here.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Time for the lab report

Before I could enjoy my morning coffee I had to throw on some sweats, dress my daughter and dart into the lab to setup an experiment that will hopefully support one of my many hypotheses.  I am in a time crunch because I really want to generate (good) data before I have to give lab meeting in two weeks.  What does "give lab meeting" mean? Well, every week my thesis lab gathers together to hold a lab meeting.  During this lab meeting, one member of the lab will present his/her data to the rest of the lab members, including our PI (Principle Investigator aka "the boss.") The presentation is typically in the form of PowerPoint slides and lasts for about one hour.  During the presentation, the presenter shares the rationale, methods and results for his/her recent experiments. If s/he encountered any problems with the experiment, we usually try to aid the presenter by suggesting alternative protocols, reagents, etc.  Sometimes the presenter will reveal data that was unanticipated, which is always interesting!  The lab meeting will conclude with a discussion on future goals that the presenter will hope to accomplish by the time s/he is scheduled to present again.  In our lab, I present about once a month, which is a reasonable amount of time to generate new data. I have a few experiments in progress and in about a week and a half, I will know if I will be going into the lab meeting with great data or so-so data. Until then, I am keeping my fingers crossed!

Salami recall due to salmonella concerns

Oh boy, apparently something went wrong at the Daniele Inc. plant in Rhode Island because they have issued a multistate recall of their pepper-covered salame due to salmonella concerns. View complete recall information here. Pass on the word and help others NOT to get sick!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Another earthquake hits Haiti

According to the US Geological Services, another powerful earthquake has hit Haiti near Port-au-Prince, about 50min ago with a 6.1 magnitude on the Richter scale. Please visit either Wyclef Jeans's charity Yele Haiti or the Red Cross to make a donation to help the earthquake victims.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Scholarships for women and minorities

For the most updated funding opportunities, be sure to click on "fellowships and scholarships" in the label cloud ----->
 If you would like to share a funding opportunity, please send an email to Minority.Scientist(at) and include the funding organization and a link to the website where the information can be located. Thanks!   
More  funding opportunities
 American Physiological Society:
American Psychological Association Fellowships in the Neurosciences
American Society for Microbiology Graduate Research Fellowship

If you are a PhD student who has already selected a thesis laboratory and you belong to an underrepresented group, your thesis adviser may be able to apply for a research supplement. For more info, visit the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Supplements (GRS) to Current ENG Awards to Broaden Participation (nsf 09-045)

    Sunday, January 17, 2010

    Kid science

    I woke up this morning and found my eight-year-old daughter watching this cool science show for kids called DragonflyTV on the PBS channel.

    DragonflyTV is hosted by teenagers Mariko and Michael and showcases kids, who were about 10 to 17 years old, performing scientific investigations in their local surroundings. As I watched the show, I became so impressed by the scientific questions these kids posed, the approach they devised to test their hypotheses, and how they presented their data.  In this episode, Malformed Frogs, Susie and Katie continued to impress me as they sought out to determine why the frogs in their local pond were displaying malformed

    Friday, January 15, 2010

    Scientific research conferences for minorities

    Within the last six months, I had the opportunity to attend three different scientific conferences to present my research. When first approached about attending these meetings, I was immediately overjoyed at the thought of traveling, but then I suddenly became nervous of what others would think of my work. I am generally a shy person and get even more so at the thought of sharing my research with colleagues more senior than myself. To overcome my shyness, I prepared my research poster and practiced what I would say at the conference. Then, I briefly scanned the NCBI Pubmed website for new and relevant publications to be sure I was current on happenings in my field of research.

    The American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) conference I attended offered a poster presentation session for minority students to showcase their research aside from the general poster session of the conference. (I would like to note that I was able to attend this conference virtually for free due to a travel grant issued by the (ASCB Minorities Affairs Committee (MAC).) Once at the poster session, I hung my poster and marveled at the number of minority scientists at all levels in their careers in attendance at the conference. Now is the time to admit that I was still nervous to present at this conference. Why? Because I brought my five-year-old daughter with me. I am a single parent and generally where I go, my daughter goes. So, there we were, my daughter and I, at a national research conference and it was time to present my poster.

    As I presented to judges and fellow students, post-docs, faulty, etc., I realized how truly beneficial it is to my career to share my research with other scientists. First and foremost, you verbally communicate your research ideas with other scientists from all backgrounds. Presenting to those who are not intimately familiar with your topic forced me to learn how to explain my work for the masses. It was also a time for me to be critical of my communication skills. So, you may wonder how it worked out with my daughter there during the poster presentation. Well, she asked questions about the poster just as my audience! I did not expect that.

    Conferences to check out!
    About travel grants and awards
    • Who can receive an award? This depends on the conference. Some conferences offer awards to undergraduate and graduate students, postdocs, and faulty members.
    • How to apply for an award? Most conferences have an application process which includes submitting an abstract of your research for review.
    • How much is the award? The travel grants typically range from $500-1500 and may cover conference registration fees, travel, lodging, and dining expenses.
    • When will I receive the award? Most awards are received either at the conference or after the conference. Thus, be prepared to pay for conference-related expenses. SAVE ALL RECEIPTS.
    If a conference you are interested in does not offer a travel award, it may offer discounts on airfare, rental cars and/or hotels! So, check with the conference's hosting organization to learn how you can reduce conference costs.  Also, seek out funding mechanisms from your home college, which often have monies set aside for conference expenses. If you don't ask, you will not know what is possible.

    Wednesday, January 13, 2010

    A must have book for young scientists

    A fellow graduate student shared a book with me that I believe is invaluable to young research scientists.  At the bench, a laboratory navigator by Kathy Barker introduces readers to the laboratory environment, complete with discussions ranging from how labs are generally organized to laboratory safety and etiquette.

    At the bench also describes how to properly setup experiments, carefully maintain your laboratory notebook and how to perform some important techniques commonly used in biological research.  In my opinion, two of the key topics in this book are the chapters that detail how you should present yourself and your data to other people.

    I wish I had this book earlier in my career.  At the bench is written in an easy-to-read and understand manner such that it can be utilized by scientists as young as those that are in high school.  However, even as an advanced graduate student, I find the material in At the bench extremely useful.  The material is also easily accessible as this hard cover book is spiral bound so that when I am at the bench, I can quickly flip through pages for quick reference.  This book typically costs approximately $45.00, but consider it an investment in your career. You may even find it less expensive if you purchase a used copy.  Pass on the information because it is a great resource!

    Monday, January 11, 2010

    Employment in the sciences: degrees earn top dollar!

    Do you know which college degrees lead to the best paying salaries?  You will be pleasantly surprised to learn that people who major in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math)- related disciplines go on in their careers to earn top dollar!  To learn more about which undergraduate science majors yield the highest salaries, read the 2009 Payscale Salary Report. Happy researching!

    Welcome to Minority Scientist

    I'm Minority Scientist and I started this blog to
    1) share useful information to assist minorities, including women and underrepresented peoples, navigate a career in scientific research and
    2) explore the world of science through the eyes of someone who
    pursued a PhD in the biomedical sciences as a single parent.

    In the spirit of sharing, if you find info here useful for you or someone you know... pass it on! If you would like to share information, send an email to
    Minority.Scientist(at) Thanks!

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