By: Irene Park
The MI DNA Day event may have been one of their first science outreach events for some participants, but not for Dr. Rebecca Pollet. Rebecca, a post-doctoral fellow at the Koropatkin lab at the University of Michigan, has a long history with science outreach events.
Rebecca completed her doctoral studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which happens to be the birthplace of the DNA Day outreach program. Needless to say, when she arrived at Michigan after her PhD, she was pleasantly surprised to find out that DNA Day had already expanded to Michigan!
Rebecca says one of advantages of DNA Day is the opportunity for young scientists (i.e. MS and PhD students, post-docs, and young faculty members) to interact with high school students, who are old enough to contemplate their career path and explore their interests.
“Outreach is really important for science in general because it’s easy for [the scientists] to be trapped in the ivory tower and not connect. The nice thing about the DNA Day model is that it’s connecting the young scientists…with high school students who are close enough to making career decisions. If they have an interest in science, we can really push that further.”
In fact, when she was at North Carolina, she was able to connect a high school student with a college student majoring in biochemistry.
“It was beyond just doing outreach. You actually had a role in networking and made a difference in the student’s life.”