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WIB-San Francisco Bay Area: Young Women In Bio - Curious about how embryos (babies) develop?, September 25, 2019

Posted By Tanvi Sinha , Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Young Women In Bio (YWIB)-San Francisco Bay Area is continuing to partner with College Track to bring hands-on STEM experiences to young women. Last year, YWIB volunteers led by Dr. Tanvi Sinha, a cell and developmental biologist from UCSF, hosted a successful event at College Track, Oakland that used chick embryos to teach about developmental biology. On September 25, 2019, YWIB brought a similar event to the College Track San Francisco branch, again led by Dr. Sinha. Sarah Odeh helped organize and Dr. Anne de Bruyn Kops assisted at the event. 

Click here for more photos

Five 11th-grade girls participated in the event which Dr. Sinha began by briefly introducing the girls to YWIB.  Dr. Sinha then explained the stages of embryonic development using a short slide presentation.  She described the process in humans vs. animals, showing what the stages look like and emphasizing that many genes involved in development are shared among species. The girls quickly became engaged, asking questions, and sharing relevant information they had learned in school. The students were so quick to recognize the similarities between equivalent developmental stages in different species that a matching game that had been planned to prompt this was bypassed, allowing for more time to dissect the embryos. 

Dr. Sinha provided fertilized chicken eggs at different stages and demonstrated how to crack the eggs into weigh boats to examine the embryos. The girls enthusiastically cracked numerous eggs each and compared the developmental stages of the embryos with those on the introductory slide show.  They shared their impressions and examined each other’s embryos. Not knowing what stage they would find in each egg added to the fun and promoted interaction among the students. Questions from the girls led to an interesting discussion of how the study of developmental biology applies to disease and we briefly mentioned the availability of summer research internships and the fact that a STEM background can lead to many different careers.

The five students who participated in the event provided enthusiastic feedback.  Most felt that the level of the activity and presentation was just right and were eager to participate in other events. The students reported that they enjoyed the hands-on aspect of the event. They liked being able to crack the eggs themselves and observe development first hand as well as learning about different stages of development and the similarities between species. Suggestions for ways to improve the event included a field trip and more time for questions and discussion. 

YWIB‐San Francisco Bay Area is grateful to College Track ‐ San Francisco for highlighting the importance of STEM for young girls and providing an opportunity for us to share our experience and love of science. We thank Michael Bluing for helping us arrange the event and look forward to future programs with College Track. 

Tags:  2019  YWIB 

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WIB-San Francisco Bay Area: Young Women In Bio at the WiSE Fair at the Athenian School in Danville, CA, May 24, 2019

Posted By Leah Makley, Sarah Odeh, and Barbara Troupin, Wednesday, June 5, 2019

On May 24th, YWIB-San Francisco Bay Area volunteers participated in the Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE) Fair at the Athenian School in Danville, CA. This annual, student-organized event encourages students’ interest in STEM fields through a series of booths with hands-on science and engineering activities, a keynote speaker, and a panel discussion from women working in STEM fields.


YWIB had a hands-on activity booth with three different activities. Attendees worked with volunteers to build edible models of DNA, using different colors of candies to represent different nucleotide bases and licorice ropes to represent a double helical backbone. This activity was meant to illustrate base pairing and the structure of DNA, and it was a big hit with the younger attendees. A second activity illustrated chemical polymerization, using Borax and glue to create bouncy balls, which was fun for both the students and their parents. Lastly, students watched the change in color of solutions containing a pH-sensitive universal indicator as a response to their exhaled breaths. The exhaled carbon dioxide slightly lowers the pH of the solution, causing the color change. 


While making bouncy balls or models of DNA, several students also took the opportunity to interact with the YWIB volunteers and get to know them. The students asked thoughtful questions about careers in science, practiced their networking skills, and asked for advice on choosing college majors and even graduate degrees.


The hands-on activities were followed by a keynote address given by Bindu Garapaty of Gilead Sciences, and a panel discussion in which five Bay Area women, including Barbara Troupin, MD, MBA, CMO at ERX Pharmaceuticals and YWIB-SF co-chair, shared insights on their career trajectory and experiences. Both the keynote speaker and the panel members spoke to the importance of mentorship, challenges and disparities women may face in the workplace, and advice on how to navigate difficult situations.


YWIB looks forward to participating in the WiSE Fair again in future years!

Tags:  2019  YWIB 

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WIB-San Francisco: Young Women In Bio - "How to Get into the Brain” - The Science behind Antibody Engineering and Design, April 18, 2019

Posted By Karen Ring and Jennifer Kim , Thursday, May 30, 2019

On April 18, 2019, the San Francisco Bay Area YWIB chapter (led by Jennifer Kim and Yasmin Chandrasekher) hosted an event at Genentech in South San Francisco titled “How to Get into the Brain - The Science Behind Antibody Engineering.” About 40 high school students from all over the Bay Area were in attendance. The event kicked off with an icebreaker where YWIB volunteers walked students through an exercise where they learned about bispecific antibodies and how scientists are using them to develop medicines that can cross the blood brain barrier and be delivered to the brain. The exercise was followed by two brief presentations by Genentech scientists on their protein purification protocols and the applications of these proteins in targeting neurodegenerative diseases. The students also got a tour of the pilot purification plant and the Genentech campus. The event concluded with a panel discussion featuring 10 Genentech employees. They discussed their career paths and gave students advice on how to pursue careers in STEM through internship opportunities, being persistent and staying curious.

“I really enjoyed the Q&A panel and hearing the panelists’ stories helped me realize that there’s not just one set path. I want to start exploring more while I’m still in high school.” - Tina

Tara, a high school senior interested and curious about different areas of science, especially enjoyed the lab tours and getting to learn about the different things that go on in a research lab.

Tags:  2019  YWIB 

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WIB-San Francisco: YWIB Comparative Anatomy at ViewPoint Therapeutics, April 12, 2019

Posted By Leah Makley, Tuesday, April 16, 2019
On April 12, 2019, ViewPoint Therapeutics hosted a small group of five high school students from Capuchino High School. The students were referred by their science teachers as being highly interested and talented in different aspects of science. The event started with a lunch and a series of introductions and Q&As about ViewPoint’s research. Then, the students spent about two and a half hours in the ViewPoint lab facility, dissecting a bovine eye, rabbit eye, and porcine heart. Each student was able to dissect her own tissue with guidance from volunteers at ViewPoint and YWIB. Students identified various parts within the ocular anatomy and compared the sizes of different structures between the rabbit and the bovine eye, and further discussed the differences in visual requirements for each species. Next, students learned how to dissect the porcine heart, identifying the ventricles, atria, valves, and the major artery and vein. The event concluded with an orientation and tour and of ViewPoint’s laboratory facility, where the students learned about the different pieces of equipment and how they are used to conduct research.

Tags:  2019  YWIB 

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WIB-San Francisco: YWIB AVID Mock Career Fair 2019 at Mountain View/Los Altos High School, January 20, 2019

Posted By Xuejing Chen. , Monday, April 15, 2019

On Jan 30, 2019, Mountain View and Los Altos High School held their annual mock career fair for around 150 junior and senior students in the AVID (Advancement Via Individual Development) program. Three volunteers representing Women In Bio participated in the event.

The AVID program aims to serve highly motivated, under-resourced students, many of whom are immigrants or would be the first generation in their families to go to college. The program provides exposure to students, who don't have the means otherwise, to see the scope and variety of diversity, skill sets, educational pathways and mindsets needed for today's jobs.

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Prior to the event, the students learned how to prepare resumes and research the companies with help from the teachers. At the career fair, the students were expected to act professional, present their interests and goals, as well as ask the recruiters relevant questions, just like a real career fair. The volunteers, in turn, acted as recruiters and gave students feedback on their resume and advice on their goals. The students were then introduced to various types of jobs from ten different organizations, including biotech jobs represented by WIB volunteers. The professionals were impressed by the students’ accomplishment, enthusiasm, and dedication to their goals. The event was a great success that helped the students to practice talking to professionals and prepare for future interviews.

Student Testimonial

Through this experience, I learned the importance of eye contact and body language and how those little things can make a huge impact on one's first impression. This was an amazing opportunity to talk to professionals in various workforces that will help me with my future interviews and elevator pitches. Each individual had a unique personality and way of communicating that was very welcoming and helped to create a comfortable environment. Thank you!

Tags:  2019  YWIB 

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WIB-San Francisco: (YWIB) June Jordan High School visits Amgen, March 20, 2019

Posted By Xuejing Chen, Tuesday, April 9, 2019

On March 20th 2019, fifteen 10th grade students from June Jordan High School visited Amgen to learn about careers in biotechnology.

June Jordan is a small underserved public high school in San Francisco with a high percentage of minority students. Young Women In Bio (SF) has been making an effort to reach more underserved students and this event was a perfect opportunity to connect the local community to the booming biotech industry in their backyard. The students had not visited any companies before, and the amazing volunteers with Amgen’s WE2 organized a fun and informative event to introduce the students to STEM careers.

The event kicked off with an introduction to biotechnology and Amgen. The presenting volunteer also talked about her own journey from school to industry, and her transition from science to business development, showcasing the possibilities in the STEM field.

Another scientist introduced the concept of diffusion and osmosis in a lively presentation. Then the students observed plant cells under microscopes and watched the live cells change shapes through osmosis.

Next the students toured the offices and labs, observed fluorescent cells on a high content imaging microscope, and they even got to practice using different pipets like real scientists! Finally, the students sat down to have lunch and continued to chat with the professionals.

We are very excited to connect with the students who normally have few opportunities like this and show them how diverse and interesting STEM careers can be. Despite not having a deep background in biology, the students were engaged and the activities sparked their interest. We thank the Amgen volunteers for planning such a wonderful event, CLSI for connecting YWIB with the schools, and the June Jordan teachers for making the event possible!



Tags:  2019  YWIB 

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

Posted By Tanvi Sinha , 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  YWIB 

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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 Tanvi Sinha, 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  YWIB 

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