|Why do outreach?|
While science is making huge strides towards improving the human condition, not everyone is happy about it.
Public distrust and even anger are increasingly directed at scientific issues that appear to conflict with their core values and beliefs, or with political or economic expediency. Look at the furor over such topics as stem cell research, evidence for climate change, or genetically-engineered food.
If we do not reach out to our community in more than just a superficial way, public opinion on many issues will be formed in spite of scientific understanding, rather than based on it.
We have a responsibility not only to our audience but to the future of science to make sure that we open a long-term dialog that addresses concerns and improves fundamental understanding. If we do this, we can begin to reverse the trend and increase public support of scientific research.
Over the past several years, juniors and seniors from local high schools, most notably, the Emma Willard School, have learned how to do research in CBIS labs on an informal basis. Last fall, we created a formal outreach program that hosted four students for two semesters, along with one summer placement.
Based on the positive feedback that this program has generated, we plan to continue the program and expand it to include other area high schools.
Our goal is to interest more young people, women in particular, in science and engineering careers, and to promote undergraduate studies at Rensselaer.
“The CBIS science internship program allows Emma Willard students to see how science is truly done by experts in their fields. They have the opportunity to apply what they learn in the classroom to real world activities, making science tangible and significant. They learn important scientific techniques by using cutting edge technology. They develop valuable relationships with professionals and other science students. Most importantly, they have a chance to explore their passions along with like-minded people. It is a wonderful program that benefits both institutions.”
Anne Mossop, EWS Director of Practicum/Independent Study
“My summer experience at the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies really jump-started my interest in research. Now, after working in a real lab, I’m more confident about starting college.
I learned how fusion plasmid works—and how it’s used to complete fusion protein purification, where the fusion protein would be used in solution in nuclear magnetic resonance imaging (NMR) experiments.
I would definitely tell other students to do this program. I really believe participating in this internship was the best decision I made all year.”
Hannah Bower, Emma Willard School