Several Biosciences researchers and staff participated in the 2016 East Bay STEM Career Awareness Day on April 27 along with other neighboring East Bay-based businesses, organizations, and professionals. Together, they co-hosted nearly three hundred East Bay high school students from four school districts – Berkeley, Emeryville, Oakland, and Richmond – who took part in this one-day career exploration event at which they were introduced to careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The event took place at Wareham Development’s Aquatic Park Center in West Berkeley, home to the Biosciences Aquatic Park Operations Center and several Biosciences research activities.
The theme of this year’s program was “What problem(s) are you trying to solve?” with the intent to spark students’ interest and inspire them to think about their future careers in the context of problem-solving. The Biosciences’ activities included two 45-minute morning tours hosted by several research groups. Kamara of the Dewey Academy wrote of her experience: “I enjoyed the tours because it has opened my eyes to a lot of opportunities.” Students viewed images of normal human breast cells guided by an explanation of the scientific research into methods of detecting possible environmental carcinogens by Paul Yaswen of the Environmental Genomics & Systems Biology (EGSB) Division.
Members of the Celniker and Karpen laboratories including EGSB’s Sue Celniker, Bill Fisher (pictured below), Ann Hammonds, Amy Strom, Kenneth Wan, Richard Weizman, and guest Kellie Whittaker presented an introduction of the Drosophila Melanogaster (fruit fly) as a model organism; and helped students look at different fly phenotypes through microscopes, including flies with glowing green eyes. They viewed living embryos as well as representations of the patterns in which genes are expressed in embryos, and monitored fly behavior as a way to test the effects of aging and of exposure to pesticides and herbicides. Diana of the Richmond High School commented: “Thank you for the awesome tour! I never thought of fruit flies but now I know they’re super cool! I look forward to seeing you guys again.”
In the Advanced Microscopy Facility, Sylvain Costes and Michelle Scott (pictured right) of the Biological Systems & Engineering (BSE) Division gave a basic orientation on the capabilities of the microscopes and helped students view cell divisions through microscopes.
At the outdoor working lunch, JBEI’s Irina Silva together with Rochelle Urban (pictured left) of the BSE Division teamed up with Biosciences’ Lida Gifford and took students through their professional journey. The students mapped their career paths from high school to the present day. Following the working lunch, the workshop tabling provided an additional opportunity for the students to ask questions about what it means to be a professional. JBEI was on hand to share career advice and internship resources.
The East Bay STEM Career Awareness Day was part of a larger local, collaborative effort to engage youth in activities to promote career exploration in STEM fields. Partners included Bayer HealthCare, Wareham Development, the East Bay Economic Development Alliance, the Institute for STEM Education housed at CSU East Bay, Dynavax, the City of Berkeley, and Alameda County Board of Supervisors.