Biosciences Area researchers and staff participated at the annual East Bay STEM Career Awareness Day on April 27, 2017, at Wareham Development’s Aquatic Park Center in West Berkeley, home to Biosciences Operations @ Berkeley and several Area research groups.
The event was led by Cal State University East Bay’s Institute for STEM Education in partnership with local businesses and organizations, and was aimed at providing insight into potential STEM careers and educational opportunities in the region. Three hundred high school students from Berkeley, Emeryville, Oakland and Richmond engaged in activities around this year’s theme: “What problem(s) are you trying to solve?” Students had the opportunity to network with a variety of STEM professionals during tours, a working lunch and exhibitor tabling.
Students arriving at Aquatic Park for six 45-minute morning tours hosted by three Biosciences Area labs were greeted by Kevin Peet, Donald Clark, and Eltra Green, Biosciences Operations @ Berkeley staff members. Paul Yaswen, staff scientist in the Environmental Genomics & Systems Biology (EGSB) Division showed students images of normal human breast cells and gave an explanation of his scientific research and the methods of detecting possible environmental carcinogens. The students also visited the Advanced Microscopy Facility, which is run by Aris Polyzos (pictured above) of the Molecular Biophysics & Integrated Bioimaging (MBIB) Division. Polyzos provided a basic orientation on the capabilities of different microscopy and cell sorting technologies in the facility and showed students different features of cell architecture using a confocal microscope.
Members of the Celniker and Karpen laboratories, including Biological Systems & Engineering (BSE) Division’s Ben Booth, Sue Celniker, Bill Fisher, Ann Hammonds, Sarah Morris, Amy Strom (pictured right, in green), Kenneth Wan, and guest Kellie Whittaker, led various demonstrations in the two labs. Fischer presented an introduction of the Drosophila melanogaster (fruit fly) as a model organism and described several projects the labs are working on, including efforts to study the effects of pesticides and aging on the microbiome and the Undiagnosed Diseases Network, which involves putting all of 20,000 human genes into fruit flies to “model” a human disease condition. Lab members helped students view living embryos, as well as representations of gene pattern expression in embryos, and different fly phenotypes, such as flies with glowing green eyes, through microscopes.
A team from JBEI (BSE) that included Amin Zargar, Irina Silva, Jessica Trinh, Morgann Reilly, Timothy Lease and Veronica Benites, together with Biosciences’ Eltra Green (pictured above right, in pink) and Lida Gifford, participated at the networking lunch. They worked with the students to map out their own STEM-related career paths from high school aspirations to their current jobs, emphasizing how mentoring and opportunities played a role and discussing what it means to be a professional. During the exhibitor tabling the JBEI team (pictured left, with two visitors to the table on the right) showcased the institute’s advanced biofuels pipeline and shared career advice and internship resources.