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WIB-RTP: LaunchLabs AgTech Young Women In Bio Event, November 6, 2019

Posted By Kaitlyn Bacon, Thursday, December 19, 2019

YWIB-RTP participants attended an event at Alexandria LaunchLabs AgTech in Durham, NC on November 6, 2019. AgTech consists of 7,140 employees in 302 companies which includes Boragen and Vindara.  

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The young women, 6th to 12th graders, at this event were treated to a tour through the LaunchLabs site. One of the highlights was the amazing hydroponic grow room in the laboratory space where they were shown a plethora of basil plants that are not otherwise grown in nature due to the seeds being more ancient than those growing today. Additionally, there were two presentations given by AgTech’s Megan Lyman, M.S., J.D. and Jade Stinson, Ph.D. Ms. Lyman discussed her indirect route to becoming an intellectual property officer with Boragen and the importance of Boragen’s research and benefit to agriculture. Dr. Stinson also discussed her exciting route to becoming a co-founder of the start-up, Vindara and explained the novelty of Vindara’s research and its broader impacts on the future of feeding the world as resources become fewer and the population continues to grow. 

After the presentations, the participants had the opportunity to engage in an engineering activity allowing everyone to work in teams and to be creative with their brainstorming and execution of the task to move plastic cups into a tower using only string, a rubber band, and straws. This was followed by a pizza dinner which allowed the women to interact with other female AgTech employees to ask further questions about careers and schooling paths. 

This event was well received and was successful because of the amount of effort put in by the staff at LaunchLabs including Heather Furcillo, Jennifer Gilson, and Ellie Brandon. Special thanks to our speakers Megan Lyman and Jade Stinson as well as the employees from the AgTech companies who came to the pizza party and helped during the lab tour. Also, we greatly appreciate the help of the WIB volunteers including Kaitlyn Bacon, Doreen Grech, Smitha Rag, Jennifer Freeman, Stephanie Ham, and Erin Jezuit. 

Tags:  2019  YWIB 

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WIB-RTP: Young Women in Bio RTP Visits JC Raulston Arboretum, October 12, 2019

Posted By Ashley McDonald, Monday, December 2, 2019

Young Women In Bio-RTP participants visited the JC Raulston Arboretum on the afternoon of October 12, 2019. The arboretum is a teaching and research facility with more than 9,000 specimens across more than 6,000 species, located on over 10 ½ acres on the North Carolina State University campus. They are nationally acclaimed for their gardens being one of the largest and most diverse collections of landscape plants adapted for landscape use in the Southeast.

At the Arboretum, the girls had the opportunity to tour the gardens, see how plants grow within different ecosystems and how they have to rely on other organisms to survive. They were able to observe the plants being affected with lack of water, different amounts of sunlight and through way of nutrition. The girls participated in 2 hands on activity during their time onsite. They created their own personal diary to be able to capture the different species and horticulture by using their major senses and then drawing it to have further discussions later. Also, they received geranium seeds to take home from the Arboretum to experience their own chances of growing within their own ecosystem and seeing the effects on the plants.

Special thanks to Elizabeth Overcash and Joy Burns for allowing us the opportunity to learn about NC State's hidden Gem, JC Raulston Arboretum. Also, we would like to thank all the volunteers who assist with this event: Kaitlyn Bacon, Smitha Rag, Stephanie Hamm, Ashley McDonald, and Shruthi Mohan.

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Tags:  2019  YWIB 

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WIB-RTP: Young Women In Bio RTP: Speed Mentoring at Girl Scout TechnoQuest, November 9, 2019

Posted By Kaitlyn Bacon, Tuesday, November 26, 2019

On November 9, 2019, Young Women In Bio-RTP participated in speed mentoring during the TechnoQuest event hosted by the Girls Scouts. 118 middle school-aged girls attended the day-long event at Meredith College. It  included speed mentoring with STEM professionals, a workshop on E-Wearables designing, a robotics project, a lab session to create designs to address engineering challenges, water filtration and spectrometry demonstrations, and a chemistry workshop with GSK. Six YWIB volunteers attended to serve as speed mentors for the girls to ask and learn about STEM field opportunities. The girls were prepared before the speed mentoring session to help them feel comfortable and think of questions to ask the mentors.

During the speed mentoring workshop, girls asked mentors what their careers were, what their day-to-day looked like, how they ended up in the role they are are in and much more! It was a casual atmosphere that made the girls feel comfortable but was also fast-paced (about five minutes with each mentor). The girls ended up talking to 10 different female mentors in various fields. Participants were very eager to chat with the mentors and enthusiastic about learning more about STEM fields. Some were very excited to share their plans and goals - they already have for entering a STEM field! The mentoring session was one of the first parts of the day and  the girls were also able to do hands-on activities through other sessions, getting a real feel for working in STEM fields.

YWIB enjoyed participating in this event with the Girls Scouts. We hope to participate again and potentially host an activity for the girls to participate in, in the future. Special thanks to Sarah Buddendeck (Program Director at Girl Scouts – North Carolina Coastal Pines) for her help in coordinating with YWIB and allowing us to be a part of such a fun event! Also, thank you to the rest of the GSNCCP staff for their help in facilitating and coordinating the event.

Tags:  2019  YWIB 

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WIB-RTP: Young Women In Bio Presents: Biogen's "Back to School" Event, September 12, 2019

Posted By Kaitlyn Bacon, Tuesday, October 8, 2019

On September 12, Young Women In Bio-RTP visited Biogen for the annual “Back to School” event. 22 middle school-aged girls attended the event along with three YWIB volunteers. The event began with a discussion led by Amanda Marvelle on chromatographic separations and how chromatography is used every day at Biogen when manufacturing therapies. The girls learned that chromatography is a method used to separate, isolate, and purify components of mixtures.

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To complement the discussion, the girls did a hands-on experiment in pairs to learn how chromatography can be used to separate the different dyes in grape Kool-Aid. Next, the girls heard an inspirational talk from Dr. Adriana Rimesso, who discussed her journey to becoming a scientist starting with her childhood in rural Mexico and ending with her scientific research experiences in the US and other countries. After, the girls were given a tour of the Biogen campus with stops at the analytical labs, quality control labs, and the manufacturing site.

The girls were very curious during the tour, asking many questions about the equipment they saw and relating what they saw to their science class as well as their relative’s jobs. In the manufacturing area, the girls were able to observe 2,000-liter bioreactors as well as the purification suites used to produce antibody therapies. The event ended with a pizza party where the girls had the opportunity to talk to female scientists who work at Biogen to learn about the day to day life of scientists.

This event was also special because we had around 16 girls attend the event from UNC Pembroke Project 3C’s Indigenous Girls in Stem program. The group traveled from Robeson County and surrounding counties for the event. (Thank you for traveling so far to attend our event.)

Special thanks to all the Biogen employees who volunteered their time to put on another great event and Amanda Marvelle, the Biogen Community Lab Leader, who helped plan and organize the event. 

Tags:  2019  YWIB 

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WIB-RTP: Young Women In Bio Tour of Duke University’s Regenerative Medicine Labs, July 27, 2019

Posted By Kaitlyn Bacon, Tuesday, August 13, 2019

On July 27, labs from the Duke University Regeneration Next initiative hosted 33 participants from Young Women In Bio RTP. The Regeneration Next Initiative brings together researchers from across Duke’s campus that focus on regeneration research for basic science, engineering, and clinical applications. Many of the labs study regeneration in different model organisms. In each lab, the girls learned how different model organisms can be used to gain insight into human disease and biological function. The girls were able to visit five different labs during their visit, including the Sherwood, Fox, Poss, Capel, and Bursac labs. 

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The Sherwood lab uses the model organism C.elegans, a type of nematode, in their research to study cancer and tissue remodeling as well as stem cell interactions. When visiting the Sherwood Lab, the girls were given a brief lesson on C.elegan biology by Dr.Sherwood and then had the opportunity to look at C.elegans under the microscope. The girls learned how green fluorescent protein (GFP) can be used in imaging as a marker for specific cell types or a reporter for gene expression. 

The Fox lab studies Drosophila (fruit flies) to understand tissue repair mechanisms. The girls got hands-on experience looking at Drosophila under the microscope and describing the physical features they saw. The girls began by differentiating between female and male flies. The tip of male flies is dark and rounded while females have a light-colored, pointed tip. After, they moved on to find flies exhibiting other common physical traits. Next, the girls were challenged to use Mendelian genetics to find flies to mate that would result in specific genetic traits. This activity helped the girls learn how traits are inherited from one generation to the next. 

The Poss lab uses zebrafish to study morphogenesis and injury-induced regeneration of several tissues. In the Poss lab, the girls were able to observe Zebrafish in their tank and compared the physical differences between the fish. They learned how Zebrafish can be genetically manipulated to study different biological functions. The girls were also able to use a microscope to look at Zebrafish under the microscope, looking specifically at heart function. 

The Capel Lab studies turtles and mice to understand sex determination and organogenesis as well as cell differentiation. The girls were able to look at turtle embryos that were recovered from eggs at different stages of development and began to understand what causes turtles to be male or female. They also looked at organ tissue at different stages of development under the microscope. The graduate students from this lab also provided a great overview of what it means to be a female scientist! 

The Bursac lab studies cardiac and skeletal muscle tissue engineering therapies as well as the differentiation of stem cells into striated muscle cells. The girls were provided an overview of how the heart works and what can be done to repair damage to the heart. The graduate students shared how they are trying to develop a cellular-based patch that can be put on damaged areas of the heart to restart cell growth in damaged areas. The girls were able to look at cardiac cells the lab had grown by differentiating stem cells. The girls really enjoyed observing the cells beat like a real heart! 

We would like to thank all of the labs for taking time out of their schedules to plan and host very informative tours of their labs. Special thanks to Amy Dickson for helping planning this event and recruiting labs to join the event. 

Tags:  2019  YWIB 

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WIB-RTP: WIB-RTP Chapter Kicks Off 2019 With MAPS Recruitment Event, January 22, 2019

Posted By Breezy Lachance, Wednesday, July 31, 2019

On January 22, the WIB-RTP chapter kicked off 2019 with a Mentorship recruitment event. Attended by close to 100 attendees, this was a great event that brought out professionals and students to meet someone new or reacquaint with old friends. Kelly Pittman, RTP Chapter Vice-Chair, opened the event with a quick overview of future RTP events, including our February 27 workshop on managing your career at every stage. Lauren Lohmer, one of the Co-Chairs of YWIB, discussed future Young Women In Bio events.

Both ladies mentioned the importance of volunteers for WIB and YWIB, and that these fun events would not happen without them.  If you are interested in playing a bigger role in the RTP Chapter, please contact a member of the current leadership board to find how you can help. 

Overall the 2019 season looks to have plenty of events to keep everyone interested.  Hope to see you at the events:

- February 27: Resume/Interviewing Workshop

- March: Workshop on Conflict Resolution in the Workplace

- April: Panel on Non-science jobs for trained scientists

- May: [Cross generational event] (Details to come.)

- June: Book club (Book TBD.)

- July: Creating a Supportive Work Environment for International Women

- August: Workshop on Building a Better Company

- September:  Celebrating Women Entrepreneurs

- October: Joint networking event with HBA

- November: Panel on medical writing

- December: Holiday party

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WIB-RTP: Young Women In Bio RTP Visit to the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences, June 12, 2019

Posted By Kaitlyn Bacon , Thursday, July 11, 2019

Young Women In Bio RTP visited the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) on the afternoon of June 12, 2019, to learn more about how we can better treat or prevent human disease. Twenty girls and their guardians received a tour of the NIEHS lab areas and listened to a presentation to learn how environmental factors, like pollutants, can affect human health. The highlight of the afternoon was a panel discussion with female scientists that work at NIEHS. The girls asked lots of questions about the scientist’s daily work and how they became interested in working in STEM. The scientists’ work branched many fields, including immunohistochemistry, environmental epigenomics, toxicology, and clinical research, so the girls learned about many different biology and environmental science fields. 

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An ongoing NIEHS study that captivated the girls' interest was the Sister Study. From 2003-2009, more than 50,000 women from across the United States and Puerto Rico were recruited for this study to uncover the cause of breast cancer. All participants had a sister who previously had breast cancer. Researchers hypothesized that by studying sisters they had a higher probability of identifying risk factors of breast cancer as sisters will have had shared environments, genes, and experiences. The Sister Study continues to track the health and lifestyle of participants each year. The knowledge gained from the Sister Study will help people to better understand both the genetic and environmental causes of breast cancer and will be used in the future to develop recommendations for preventing breast cancer. 

Special thanks to John Schelp for coordinating our visit as well as Michelle Campbell, Cindy Innes, Yvette LeGrande, and Kyla Taylor for sharing their experiences as female scientists! 

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WIB-RTP: Young Women In Bio Visits the Hub Farm, May 6, 2019

Posted By Katie Stember , Monday, May 13, 2019

YWIB-RTP participants visited the Durham County Public School System’s Hub Farm on the afternoon of May 6, 2019. The Hub Farm is a 30-acre farm, forest, and aquatic educational center that is used as an outdoor educational center. The farm relies on volunteers and students from the school system to help maintain all the different areas on the farm. During the event, the girls explored different areas of the farm with their first stop at the farm’s gardens.

At the gardens, the girls learned about sustainable agriculture as well as what makes produce organic. The garden contained a wide variety of plants ranging from kale to cabbage. The girls even had the opportunity to pick and eat strawberries and snap peas fresh from the garden. The food grown in the garden is either given back to the Durham community or sold at a produce stand at a nearby library. New baby chickens were just born at the farm, so the girls had fun getting to hold the chicks after visiting the garden.

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The next stop on the tour was the farm’s beehives. The Hub Farm had four different beehives, and the girls were able to look up close at one set of bees. The girls learned about the different types of bees in a hive, the queen, workers, and drone bees. The girls also learned about what makes a healthy beehive. The girls had lots of questions ranging from how long bees live and if there is such a thing as organic honey. The girls were even able to see a new bee hatching and see larvae.

The last stop on the tour was at the chicken and duck coop. During the day, the chickens and ducks live outside but at night they go inside in protected coop to be sheltered from potential predators. The girls were able to see the difference in eggs that are laid by different types of chickens. They were also given the opportunity to feed the chickens. Lastly, the highlight of the day was being able to corral the chickens and ducks into their nighttime homes by forming a circle around the animals and walking in towards the coops.

Special thanks to Ashley Meredith, Hannah Ball-Dambergy, and Frances Starn for sharing the farm with us!

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WIB-RTP: YWIB Spring Into STEM 2019, April 27, 2019

Posted By Katie Stember, Wednesday, May 1, 2019

WIB-RTP Young Women In Bio, in coordination with Graduate Women in Science RTP, hosted its third annual Spring into STEM event on April 27, 2019. Approximately 50 girls in 4th-8th grade joined us for a morning of hands on science activities and learning. The event was held at North Carolina Central University’s Biomanufacturing Research Institute and Technology Enterprise (BRITE). The girls rotated through four diverse activities during the morning, each focusing on a different area of science and engineering. 

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In the activity, “Clearing a Path to the Heart”, the girls became biomedical engineers working in teams to design a device to clear a blocked artery. In the activity, a tube filled with playdough was used to mimic a clogged artery. The girls began by comparing the flow of liquid through a clean artery (empty pipe) and a clogged artery. After using materials such as pipe clears, straws, paper clips, and balloons, the girls brainstormed & designed devices to clear the blocked artery. The girls then attempted to clear the arteries with their engineered devices. After, they tested the flow of liquid through their “cleared” arteries and compared the flow to the clean and clogged arteries. The girls’ creativity shined throughout this activity with the girls designing devices that ranged from using scraping to unclog the artery to devices similar to commonly used balloon catheters without any previous knowledge. The girls also thought about how their designs in the context of if they were to be used in real human patients and how some designs may be better than others for actual patient use. 

In the activity, “DNA Detectives”, the girls learned how DNA can be extracted and how DNA can be analyzed by scientists to solve crimes. First, the girls collected samples of their own saliva. The cells in saliva were broken up by adding soap. DNA is insoluble in ethanol, therefore when the girls added salt and ethanol the DNA came out a solution and the girls were able to visualize their own DNA. Their DNA appeared as strings in the solution. After, the girls worked together in groups to analyze a crime scene. Each team was given provide with a suspect’s DNA that was visualized on an agarose gel. Each suspect’s DNA ran differently on the gel. The girls compared the DNA from each suspect with the DNA found at the crime scene to determine who committed the crime. The girls had a blast in this activity, especially with the hands-on components. 

In the activity, “Slime Time”, the girls learned about polymers and their unique properties while making slime. The activity leaders explained how the glue and borax they added together was undergoing a chemical reaction, called polymerization. The girls explored how the properties of the slime could be changed by manipulating the amounts of glue/water/borax added to the slime as well as adding other materials to the slime, such as lotion. The girls had a blast carrying out their own reactions and comparing how their slimed differed from their friends. The girls were very excited to take their slime home to play with! 

In the activity, “Entomology: Pinning Insects”, the girls learned how entomologists preserve insects they find in nature for later examination under the microscope. The girls had the opportunity to learn how to pin insects for display in a jewelry box that they were able to take home. The activity leaders taught the girls how to spread apart the ladybug’s left and right to expose their wings. The girls also learned how to distinguish the native ladybug from the invasive Asian lady beetle. Some girls left this activity with the want to start their own insect collections! 

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WIB-RTP: YWIB STEM Career Exploration with Chapel Hill High School’s FemSTEM Club, April 16, 2019

Posted By Katie Stember, Friday, April 26, 2019

Young Women In Bio-RTP partnered with Chapel Hill High School’s FemSTEM club to introduce female students to STEM-related careers in a monthly series based on the students’ interests. Each month invited speakers shared their own experiences in different STEM fields with a focus on how girls can learn more about these fields as they pursue higher education. 

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In January, three scientists (Danielle Moffett, Ph.D.; Kate Camacho, PharmD; and Lauren Lohmer, Ph.D.) from Nuventra Pharma Sciences presented a pharmacology activity.  In the activity, the girls worked together in small groups with one of the scientists to learn how to interpret the information typically presented on a drug label. They discussed the types of studies typically done during drug development, looked at two different sets of data to understand how dosing recommendations were made, and talked use of placebo controls. The session ended with a Q&A about general drug development, Ph.D. vs PharmD, career-specific questions, and questions about the speakers’ activities in undergrad.

In February, Katie Williams, Ph.D., Associate Director of Business Development at Applied Biomath, presented a probability based problem to learn about data science. The girls learned about the famous Monty Hall problem loosely based on the television series Let’s Make a Deal. In the problem, you are given the choice of three doors, where one door has a prize behind it and the other doors do not have prizes. Imagine you choose door number one. The host who knows what’s behind the doors opens door three that does not contain a prize. He then asks if you want to change your choice to door number two. In a hands-on activity, the girls explored if it was to their advantage to switch their choice to increase their odds of winning the prize by working in pairs to carry out this scenario. One girl acted as the host who knew where the prize was and the other girl guessed where the prize was. The girls recorded how many times they successfully found the prize and how many times they failed. After, Katie walked the girls through how to look at this scenario using probability to understand if it is advantageous to switch doors to increase the chance of winning the prize. 

In March, two graduate students from UNC shared their experiences in environmental science research. Madelyn Percy discussed her work in geological sciences studying the interactions between soil and groundwater. The girls were very intrigued by the time she spent in the Galapagos islands completing field work for her research. Madelyn shared her journey, focusing on how she spent time as a high school teacher and why she chose to pursue graduate school after teaching. Kayleigh O’Keefe shared her ecology work focused on understanding how factors within host-microbial interactions affect disease. The girls enjoyed learning about her fieldwork at the Duke Forest monitoring the growth of a grass species that is commonly infected with multiple fungal pathogens. The girls asked lots of questions, inquiring about Kayleigh’s unique schedule balancing both fieldwork and laboratory experiments.
In April, four first-year medical students at Duke and UNC discussed their journey applying to medical school, their daily life is as medical school students, and their future aspirations. The presenters included Anna Dodson (UNC), Mary Gwin (UNC), Emily Goins (Duke), and Reilly Dever (Duke). They shared tips for how the girls can explore their interests in medicine in undergrad and provided study tips for the MCAT. They also discussed unique paths one can take within medicine, such as incorporating medicine knowledge for business applications with an MBA or pursuing service work. The med school students also talked about what they do each year in medical school as well as the different residency and fellowships one can explore after medical school. The FemStem participants asked many engaging questions such as how research can be incorporated into medical school or what activities the medical school students enjoyed the most in undergrad. 

In May, the FemSTEM series will focus on careers in genetics with presentations. The speakers include Cassandra Heighington, Ph.D., who works as a sales specialist for Applied StemCell and who whose graduate work was in the genetics field. The other speaker will be Shruthi Mohan, Ph.D., who works at UNC as biocurator for the ClinGen Resource where she performs gene curation as part of the Autism and Intellectual Disability and the Hemostasis/Thrombosis Expert Panel. 

Tags:  2019  YWIB 

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