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WIB-Capital Region AAAS Family Science Days, February 16 & 17, 2019

Posted By Marsha Morgenstern, Tuesday, March 19, 2019

American Association for Advancement of Science (AAAS) Family Science Days occurred on February 16th and 17th in Washington D.C. Family Science Days is a free public event that offers hands-on, kid-friendly activities. The event ran from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on both days with over 3150 guests in attendance. Young Women In Bio (YWIB) participated in the event as an exhibitor for both the days. Young women who are high school students from Montgomery County public school system performed the demonstrations and activities for YWIB.

Click here for more photos

YWIB had two hands-on activities. The first activity consisted of identifying different organs and building a human anatomy model, while the other activity involved making an edible DNA helix using pieces of candy. In the first activity, each child was given a disassembled human torso model. With the help of YWIB volunteers, the children learned the functions of each organ as they assembled the model. Upon completion, each participant was allowed to spin a wheel to claim their prize. The prizes included rock candy, a lollipop, or a YWIB sticker. Approximately 500-600 children participated in this activity.

For the second activity, each child was given a packet comprised of Twizzlers, Gummy Bears, marshmallows, and toothpicks. With the help of volunteers, each participant made a DNA helix while learning about the composition of DNA – phosphate group, bases, hydrogen bonds, and sugar. Upon completion of the activity, participants could eat their edible DNA helix. Approximately 175 children participated in this event.

YWIB Capital Region had a great turn out for the event, and our activities were well-received by the attendees. One young man who participated in the edible DNA helix activity stated that “it was more fun and engaging than he had anticipated”.

YWIB Capital Region would like to thank the event organizer, Ms. Stacey Baker, AAAS, and the event sponsors – Analog Devices Inc, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Subaru for sponsoring the 2019 Family Science Days. We also would like to thank our YWIB volunteers and high school students who carved out time to support us over the weekend, and helped make the event a success.

Tags:  2019  Capital Region 

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WIB-San Francisco: YWIB Visits Stanford University CHARM Lab, February 28, 2019

Posted By Marsha Morgenstern, Monday, March 11, 2019

On February 28, 2019, the Collaborative Haptics and Robotics in Medicine (CHARM) at Stanford University hosted a group of eight high school girls, presenting on the Science of Touch (haptics). The afternoon consisted of a presentation and several demonstrations showing how robots can be used to study touch in a virtual environment and the ways in which haptics can be applied in a real-world setting.

To kick off the event, the director of CHARM, Professor Allison Okamura, shared her educational background and how she came to work in robotics. She then turned over the presentation to two PhD students, both of whom are studying soft robotics. They spoke about what we can learn from nature to improve the way in which we interact with our environment. They also spoke about how design thinking (empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test) and iterative design is implemented to improve their research. The PhD students had the high school students consider how haptics could improve learning retention in a similar to how combining seeing, speaking, and hearing improves learning retention. 

Following the presentation, we moved to the Haptics lab where the girls were given the opportunity to interact with five  graduate students and learn about their research projects. This included:

-       Surgical robotics to assist physicians. Similar to the da Vinci Surgical System, the graduate student demonstrated how robots can assist physicians in surgery, making procedures less invasive. Specifically, these devices can be used in prostate and breast cancer. The girls were each given the opportunity to test the machine.


-       Rehabilitation robotics to assist patients in moving following a brain injury. This particular student was researching how to improve movement following death of brain tissue due to a stroke. He explained how the brain controls the body through proprioception, and how we process where our body is in space. Through his research, we may be able to better understand errors in proprioception that occur following a stroke, and how we can help patients overcome the damage.


-       Soft robotics through a bioinspired vine robot. In nature, animals are made of soft, flexible tissue while most/all of our robots are constructed on hard, rigid material. Using bio-inspiration, it is possible model robots to function better in our natural environment, have a certain degree of motion, and achieve new things. The graduate student shared a few examples of her research, including robots made of plastics and silicon and coffee grounds.

- Haptics in virtual reality. Currently we have the ability to interact with robots through a stylus, but by developing wearable haptic robots, we can reach into the world and experience touch. The graduate student shared her research which included a wearable device that can help use to better understand skin stretch, muscle stiffness, and how we think about texture.

-       Soft actuators to support special orientation. Using a wearable device outfitted with a motor, it is possible to communicate direction with people. Potential uses for this wearable device include guidance for people who are blind. The graduate student noted that people can detect change as low as 30 degrees.

Following the hands-on demonstrations, three female PhD students were available for questions and answers. Each discussed how they became interested in engineering, and their path to Stanford, noting that a big driver was wanting to help people by building things. They emphasized that while your degree may influence what you do in the future, especially if you are interested in a technical field, where you go is not as important. Attending a school that is an appropriate size fit, and where you can have a greater impact by getting involved in classes and clubs, may be more important for your success than choosing a school simply based on name recognition.

The PhD students urged the high school students to keep an open mind about what they want do in the future. There is a lot to learn and many experiences to have in college that may help direct their future. A final point was to remember that everyone has something to bring to the table. It is key to focus on your strengths, whether that be creativity, communication, analytics, rather than focus on weaknesses. The teams that are successful are those that have a wide variety of people, each of whom brings a different skill set to the table.

The high school students found the event stimulating, and challenging, but in a positive way. The best part of the day was the hands-on demonstrations and the students noted they would have liked more hands-on activities and more time in the lab. They also would have liked more time speaking with graduate students about their experiences.

Nearly all said that they would recommend future YWIB events to their friends, and would absolutely come to another event. Additional photos from the event can be found here.

Tags:  2019  San Francisco 

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WIB-Atlanta: YWIB Sarah Smith Elementary Science Night

Posted By Marsha Morgenstern, Sunday, February 24, 2019

Click here for more photos 

On December 4, 2018, YWIB-Atlanta was excited to return to the annual Sarah Smith Elementary STEM Night. YWIB-Atlanta volunteers enjoyed talking with over 400 students and parents about DNA. Students participated in various activities with the YWIB volunteers including coloring a picture of a cell, learning about organelles, creating 3D DNA origami and performing DNA extraction from strawberries! YWIB-Atlanta is extremely thankful for the Agnes Scott College student volunteers.

Tags:  2018  Atlanta 

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WIB-San Francisco: YWIB Curious About Careers in Health, Technology & Innovation? (With Stanford Biodesign & College Track), February 6, 2019

Posted By Marsha Morgenstern, Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Young Women In Bio - San Francisco Bay Area has partnered with College Track Oakland and San Francisco to bring STEM experiences to young women. On February 6, 2019, Young Women In Bio and College Track visited the Stanford Byers Center for BioDesign.The focus of this program was to learn about the intersection of health, technology and innovation with seventeen highschool girls in attendance.

Click here for additional images

The event began with an overview of the BioDesign fellowship program and a tour of the facilities by the Manager of Academic Projects & Communications, Stacey Paris McCutcheon. Stacey explained to the students the three stages of innovation that the fellows learn in the program: 1) how to Identify a problem, 2) Invent a solution, and 3) Implement the invention in the healthcare field. During her tour, Stacey presented the students with inventions that had resulted from the Stanford BioDesign program.

The students were then joined by four female fellows: Delphine Huang, MD, Shira Koss, MD, Melissa Morgan, MD, and Ashley Seehusen, PhD in the Stanford BioDesign program. Each of the fellows had followed a different path from physicians to marketing experts and shared their academic and career history, why they joined the program and what are their biggest learnings to date. The students were given time to ask the panel of fellows questions about what problems they are working on solving and what they think they will do after the program.  

Tags:  2019  San Francisco 

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WIB-New York: YWIB Robotics in Surgery Demo at NYU Langone, February 13, 2019

Posted By Marsha Morgenstern, Tuesday, February 19, 2019

The Robotics in Surgery Demo at NYU Langone on February 13, 2019 was full of great vibes and robust discussion for 25 NYC high school students.

Dr. Amie Kent is speaking (left) and Irina Komm is at the podium.

 For more pictures, click here

Dr. Amie Kent, a cardiothoracic surgeon who is certified in robotic surgery, explained how robots are transforming certain kinds of lung surgery due to their ability to enable smaller incisions, which are necessary for minimally invasive surgery. As a result, patients recover faster and get out of the hospital sooner than they do with traditional open procedures.  She also talked about her career decisions and how she has successfully balanced her intensive training and personal/ family life, assuring the girls that she has a spouse, child, and friendships outside of work.

PA Irina Komm discussed different kinds of careers open to women interested in robotic surgery. Komm, Kent, and Melissa Figueroa, also on staff at NYU Langone then organized a hands-on, interactive demo of the DaVinci Robot that is used in cardiothoracic surgery.

YWIB Metro New York and NYU Langone have been running this hugely popular program for several years now. Recruiting and school contacts were organized by volunteers Neda Memar (photography credits), the YWIB program lead, and Wendy Diller, YWIB Metro New York Chair.

There are great careers ahead for the 25 student attendees!

Tags:  2019  New York 

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WIB-Greater Boston: Young Women In Bio Event at Sarepta Therapeutics, January 28, 2019

Posted By Marsha Morgenstern, Tuesday, February 19, 2019

On Monday, January 28, 2019 the Greater Boston YWIB Chapter co-organized with Sarepta Therapeutics an opportunity for young girls to peek inside the world of a biotechnology company focused on combating rare diseases, in particular Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Students from the Boston area convened at the Company headquarters in Cambridge and began the evening networking over light fare (pizza, salad and cookies). Following a brief introduction to Young Women in Bio led by Suzanne Grillo, Chair, Young Women in Bio Greater Boston, attendees heard from several female company leaders holding various positions, including:

  • Louise Rodino-Klapac, Ph.D. (Vice President, Gene Therapy) shared her career journey contributing to the research and development of the Company’s lead drug candidate, the events that led her to choose a career in science, the inspiration she derived from female scientists before her like Rosalind Franklin and the importance of challenging yourself outside your comfort zone to achieve great things
  • Francesca Nolan (Sr. Director, Investor Relations and Corporate Communications) provided an overview of the Company, the team effort required to bring a drug to market and the importance of finding helpful mentors along the way
  • Tiffany Thompson (Medical Affairs Associate, Gene Therapy Operations) shared an overview of her career path starting from her major in kinesiology at college and the opportunities that unfold in nurturing companies such as Sarepta

The girls were then invited up to their onsite laboratory where they were able to participate in an interactive scientific experiment led by Danielle Griffin, Senior Manager of Gene Therapy. Danielle works closely with Dr. Rodino-Klapac as head of research operations. After donning lab coats and protective eye gear, girls moved to independent lab stations set up so that the girls could extract and purify DNA from their cheek cells. Then they were invited to view and discuss the differences they saw between normal and diseased muscle tissue.

Click here for additional images

Following the lab experiment, the girls returned to the conference room and each participant received a book about Dr. Rodino-Klapac’s scientific inspiration, Rosalind Franklin.

Tags:  2019  Greater Boston 

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Previous Past Event Recaps

Posted By Marsha Morgenstern, Tuesday, February 19, 2019

On February 28, 2018, Young Women In Bio held its first event in a series focused on “The Future of Life Sciences and Technology” to engage young girls in discussions and activities on how life sciences and technology are working together to solve health and other life sciences-related problems. For all the details, click here.

For previous YWIB Event Recaps, please click here

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