By: Brooke Wolford
Amanda Elmore won gold in the 2016 Olympics in Brazil in the women’s eight rowing competition. She is also a former University of Michigan Program in Biomedical Sciences (PIBS) student who studied how microbes colonize the gut in the lab of Dr. Pat Schloss. Amanda graduated with her Masters in Microbiology in May of 2017 and is currently training for the 2020 Olympics full time in Princeton, New Jersey.
Amanda believes it is really important for scientists to be able to explain what we are learning to lay audiences, kids, or even scientists from other fields. After finishing her departmental seminar before graduation, she thought it would be cool to explain her science and DNA to a different audience through MI DNA Day. It was easy to get involved with MI DNA Day because the lessons were already planned, so she could focus on making her communication clear, energetic, and fun for the students. Microbiology may seem unrelated to DNA, but as one of the many interdisciplinary scientists working with MI DNA Day, Amanda used DNA in her research regularly. She was able to explain to students how DNA helps scientists identify which bacteria are present in samples of the gut microbiome.
When asked to give advice for other graduate students trying “to do it all,” she emphasized the importance of having diverse activities so you get a mental break from one thing to focus on another. She appreciates having multiple interests to keep herself going, although obviously one shouldn’t spread oneself too thin. So next time you consider volunteering for a science communication opportunity, remember Olympic gold medalist Amanda Elmore’s sage advice and just do it!