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WIB-RTP: Baebies Hosts YWIB Event, November 5, 2015

Posted By Breezy Lachance, Monday, June 24, 2019

On November 5, 2015, Baebies hosted nine girls, ages 10-11, to meet a team of female STEM members. Baebies’ mission is to save lives and make lives better for millions of babies by bringing new technologies, new tests, and new hope to parents and healthcare professionals. Through a PowerPoint presentation, the girls received information about Baebies history and a more in-depth understanding of newborn screening.

Following this introduction, the girls were split into small groups of 2-3 girls each and followed a mock protocol for newborn screening.

During this protocol, the girls cut out dried “blood” spots (i.e. red food coloring) and performed an experiment by releasing the pigment into solution and pipetting the “blood” onto Baebies’ platform.

While the analyzer was running, the girls were taken on a tour of the facility where they interacted with engineers and their 3D printer! Over pizza and candy, the girls then analyzed their results to determine which, if any, newborn might have a rare disease.

The girls enjoyed the event and learned how to complete an experiment from start (running the experiment) to finish (analyzing the data).

YWIB-RTP would like to thank Susan Nichols for the introduction to Baebies and to Jessica Kettler for helping to coordinate the event. We would also like to thank the Baebies scientists: Lisa Nelson, Miriam Nuffer, Ellen Stevens, and Hong Pham.

 

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WIB-RTP: YWIB Visits UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, July 28, 2015

Posted By Breezy Lachance, Monday, June 24, 2019

On July 28, 2015, a group of thirty 9th-12th graders from the Research Triangle area enjoyed a visit to the University of North Carolina’s Gillings School of Global Public Health with Young Women In Bio. Gillings was ranked the top public school of public health in the nation by U.S. News & World Report (2016 edition). The school’s mission is to “improve public health, promote individual well-being and eliminate health disparities across North Carolina and around the world.” They bring about sustainable, positive changes in health by providing an outstanding program of research, teaching, and service to:

- Educate the next generation of public health leaders;

- Discover, test, and disseminate solutions to health threats and problems;

- Translate research into effective practices and sound policies; and

- Serve North Carolina and beyond through outreach, engagement, education of citizens and health professionals, and application of solutions to health threats and problems.

Andre Brown, a doctoral student in the department of Health Behavior and Health Education, led the girls through a lecture on how researchers aim to help people and communities make better health choices. They learned that changing behavior takes a multitude of approaches and methods. After the lecture, he led a game of “Health Trivia” for the girls.

The girls also enjoyed hearing the stories of two female doctoral students with different paths and research interests. They asked great questions, and heard first-hand experiences in a small, welcoming environment. The speakers, Dr. Patsy Polston, and Ms. Loneke Blackman, gave generously of their time and insight, and the girls really appreciated hearing from women who have excelled in their chosen field:

- Dr. Polston has a Ph.D. in Environmental Science & Engineering (ESE). She also holds a Master of Science in Public Health degree in ESE from the Gillings School, as well as Bachelor of Science degrees in electrical engineering and physics from Tuskegee University. Her area of interest is water quality and how to serve communities in need. She encouraged the girls to follow their dreams, no matter what anyone else says, and to have confidence that their research interests are important to the world. Dr. Polston also gave great advice about working with other cultures when trying to encourage healthy behaviors.

- Loneke Blackman is a doctoral candidate in Nutrition Intervention & Policy. She also holds an M.A in Nutrition Science and Dietetics from Syracuse University, as well as a B.S and R.D. from Cornell University. Her areas of interest include designing weight loss interventions, behavior modification for weight loss in minority populations, and nutrition and dietetics. Ms. Blackman emphasized how her background and love of sports helped lead her to public health, and encouraged the girls to understand the role of support systems and community traditions when trying to help people change their behavior.

After meeting Dr. Polston and Ms. Blackman, the girls were split into four groups and toured various labs. Dr. Stephen Hursting and Dr. Mirek Styblo allowed the girls to visit each of their labs in turn. They visited a lab doing research to investigate whether fasting had an effect on diabetes and cancer. In another lab, the girls helped stain fixed cells to determine if estrogen receptors were present in the tissue.

They also were able to observe pancreatic islets under the microscope (from animal tissues exposed to arsenic) to determine the carcinogenic effects of environmental toxins.

This event was well-received by both the students and parents. A huge thanks to Andre Brown for collaborating with WIB-RTP’s YWIB Chair, Stephanie Mixson, to organize this great event.

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WIB-RTP : YWIB Visits the Duke Lemur Center, July 12, 2015

Posted By Breezy Lachance, Monday, June 24, 2019

On July 12, 2015, thirty 4th, 5th, and 6th grade girls visited the Duke Lemur Center with Young Women In Bio.

The girls first watched a short video detailing the history of lemurs and the Duke Lemur Center: Lemurs are only found naturally on the island of Madagascar, and are believed to have traveled there on small rafts of vegetation about 65 million years ago. The Duke Lemur Center was established in 1966 as a premiere interdisciplinary research center to study many different aspects of lemurs from behavioral studies to different physiological traits. The goal of the center is to gain scientific knowledge about lemurs, educate the public, and promote conservation efforts.

Following the video, the girls were introduced to a map of Madagascar, and the tour guide described the different types of environments and climates present throughout Madagascar. She encouraged the girls to think about the different challenges that animals in those regions might face - from trouble finding water in desert environments to loss of habitat in rain forests. Then the tour began and we were introduced to 21 different species of lemurs.

The girls learned that lemurs are one of only three species (along with hyenas and meerkats) that live in female dominated societies. This fact became very important during the tour as the female lemurs were always fed a treat by center staff before any males were. The lemurs either enjoyed craisins or peanuts depending on the physiological characteristic of each lemur’s digestive tract.

Everyone was treated to a loud chorus of lemur calls as the many different animals spread throughout the center notified each other of our presence! The tour guides were wonderful about answering all the girls’ questions about lemur life and different activities throughout the center. After seeing many different species located outside, everyone was excited to view the nocturnal lemurs who are housed in a special structure. The nocturnal animals live in complete darkness during the daytime, so they will be active during the time when researchers and guests are present at the center. Then as nighttime falls outside, the lights turn on and the animals sleep during the “day” inside the structure. The girls were able to see the animals with the red lights on, since the lemurs are missing the cone in the eye that sees red lights. Many thanks to our YWIB volunteer Lauren Lohmer for coordinating the event with the Duke Lemur Center. We are also very appreciative to our wonderful tour guides.

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WIB-RTP: YWIB-RTP Visits J.C. Raulston Arboretum at North Carolina State University, June 7, 2015

Posted By Breezy Lachance, Monday, June 24, 2019

On June 7th, ten 4th-5th grade girls visited the J.C. Raulston Arboretum at North Carolina State University. This nationally acclaimed garden was designed to grow plants adapted to the Piedmont region of North Carolina. There are over 9,000 plants covering 6,000 different species! One of the main goals of the Arboretum is to see what types of plants are able to grow and thrive in the Southeast. This means that the plants must be able to survive mild to harsh winters as well as some hot summers with little to no rain.

The girls were met by the Children’s Program Coordinator, Elizabeth Overcash. She began the event by describing the importance of the Arboretum and asking general questions about plants. We were then taken on a tour of the Arboretum and Elizabeth described the different areas of the garden. The girls got to experience the various microclimates that the Arboretum creates including a desert-like area with hot sinks, a mountainous terrain with crevices where plants grow, and Japanese-influenced gardens, just to name a few. During the event, Elizabeth kept the girls entertained by having the tour interactive – observing different plants and insects as well as smelling the various flowers and herbs being grown.

At the end of the event, the girls were taken to an area where they learned how to grow new plants from cuttings. Each girl was given a cutting off of the plant, Coleus or Painted Nettle, and then told to remove much of the lower stems and leaves. By removing the excess biomass, the plant can focus on regrowth rather than trying to keep the extra leaves alive. The cuttings were then placed in a bottle with water and the girls were able to take them home to show off to their friends and family!

Many thanks to our YWIB volunteer, Michelle Richter, for coordinating the event with the Arboretum. A special thanks to Elizabeth Overcash for making the event such a huge success with these young girls.

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WIB-RTP: YWIB Visits Biogen, May 20, 2015

Posted By Breezy Lachance, Monday, June 24, 2019

On May 20, 2015 twenty-five 6th and 7th graders from around the Research Triangle area enjoyed a tour of Biogen with Young Women In Bio. This event was coordinated by Amanda Marvelle, Biogen’s community lab coordinator, and Carrie Lloyd, a manufacturing associate at Biogen. The visit included an introduction to the facility, a tour around the community laboratory and chemistry labs, and a viewing of the manufacturing area. At each station, hands-on activities were provided for the girls, allowing them to engage in a variety of scientific experiments.

Biogen was founded in 1978, and is one of the world’s leading biotechnology companies, with a focus on developing therapies for neurodegenerative, hematologic, and autoimmune disorders. Biogen possesses research programs that include exploration of potential candidates for serious and difficult-to-treat neurodegenerative diseases as well as fibrotic and nonmalignant blood disorders. At the community lab, the girls watched a video about new medicine development, where Amanda explained the importance of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and laboratory safety.

The visit at the chemistry labs involved learning about pipetting technique and measuring pH in different solutions, where the girls learned about acidic, basic, and neutral solutions. An interesting part of this tour was the “Erupting Volcano Experiment” performed by the chemistry scientists. They added vinegar to baking soda which was mixed up with red coloring and dish soap inside of an Erlenmeyer flask, creating an imitation of a volcano eruption. This demonstration showed an acid-base reaction, whereby the acid (vinegar) chemically reacts with the base (baking soda), releasing carbon dioxide gas, which then bubbles out. The liquid soap helps to make the “lava” foamy.

The visit also included an outside view of the manufacturing area, where the girls observed bioreactors used to cultivate cells. The girls also visited a dispensing volume station, where the manufacturing scientist explained how they transfer sterile material between two bags using sterile connectors. The girls also learned how to mount those connectors.

At the end of the event, the girls enjoyed a pizza party, complete with cupcakes and brownies, where they had the opportunity to interact with Biogen scientists and ask more questions. From a WIB perspective, we have noticed that some of the girls are participating in several YWIB events. This shows a high interest level in middle-school aged girls and how important this exposure and initiative of WIB is to young girls.

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WIB-RTP: Speed Networking Event, May 13, 2015

Posted By Breezy Lachance, Monday, June 24, 2019

On Wednesday, May 13, 2015, life science professionals from Research Triangle Park attended the WIB-RTP Spring networking event at the Hilton Garden Inn in Durham. The event began with exciting chapter announcements, including the launch of MAPS University with participants from Duke University. Following introductions, attendees were encouraged to participate in a group-based model speed networking exercise. Personal introductions and ice-breakers were initiated by answering the question, "What is your dream job?" Following the structured portion of the event, attendees were encouraged to further connect with individuals that they had chosen, in a free-form environment over wine and hors d'oeuvres.

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WIB-RTP YWIB: Bayer Cropscience Hosts Greenhouse Tour for Middle School Students in RTP, May 12, 2015

Posted By Breezy Lachance, Monday, June 24, 2019

On the afternoon of May 12, 2015, twenty-five 6th, 7th, and 8th grade girls attended a Young Women In Bio event hosted by Bayer CropScience. The event began with a safety video of the Bayer greenhouse, followed by a Q&A session with a panel of female scientists, and ended with a tour of the greenhouse.

Kurt Boudnock, a group leader of the Bayer Greenhouse, organized the group of seven fantastic female scientists to act as a panel during the informational session. The panelists ranged from women who worked in the greenhouse, to bench scientists, to those who market and travel in the field. These ladies deserve recognition for their time and for answering the questions of the inquisitive middle school girls. The panel included: Brittany Lloyd, Mandy Bush, Maris Overcash, Laura Schouten, Heather Lanier, Valaree Lund, and Robin Dale.

After the informational Q&A sessions, the girls were taken to the Bayer Greenhouse building for a tour of the facility. Kurt led one group of girls while Brittany and Robin took the other half around the building. The girls were exposed to what a commercial greenhouse looks and feels like and were able to ask questions about how water, light, humidity, and other variables are controlled through a computer system. Additionally, the students were able to observe soybean and corn being grown for experimental testing in the greenhouse setting and in growth chambers. Thank you to Kurt and the entire panel of female scientists for making this event at Bayer Cropscience a huge success.

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WIB-RTP: YWIB Visits NCCU’s BRITE Program, April 28, 2015

Posted By Breezy Lachance, Monday, June 24, 2019

A group of 10th through 12th graders from the Triangle area enjoyed a visit to North Carolina Central University’s BRITE program.

Betty Brown coordinated, and Linda Love hosted the tour, which included a lecture on the biochemistry of inherited disease, a gel electrophoresis experiment to determine genetic markers for Sickle Cell Anemia, and laboratory tours from resident researchers.

The NCCU BRITE program (Biomanufacturing Research Institute & Technology Enterprise) began in 2006 with a public-private partnership known as BioImpact. Through its rigorous undergraduate and graduate programs, the program strives to educate the next generation of biotech professionals in biochemistry, pharmacology and disciplines relevant to biomanufacturing.

Dr. Carla Oldham led the girls in an experiment to determine which of 3 sample patients carried the marker for Sickle Cell Anemia. The girls learned proper pipette techniques, the mechanics of gel electrophoresis, and how to read the bands in the gel.

Sickle cell anemia is caused by an amino acid mutation of a glutamic acid to a valine. Dr. Carla Oldham explained that a single mutation can change the biochemistry characteristics of the protein, since the glutamic acid is an amino acid with a negative charge and valine is an amino acid with a neutral charge. These characteristics help the detection of the mutation in a gel electrophoresis, since an electrical field is applied to the gel and the samples will run accordingly to their charge/mass ratio. The electric field consists of a negative charge at one end, which pushes the molecules through the gel, and a positive charge at the other end that pulls the molecules through the gel. Species that are negatively charged (anions) will migrate towards the positively charged anode. Thus, the normal samples will migrate faster because they have a negative charge, while the Sickle cell will migrate slower on the gel, because they have the valine mutation, enabling the detection of which patients have the mutation.

The experiment was followed by an information session about the BRITE program’s numerous academic and scholarship opportunities, presented by Natacha Janvier-Derilus. To complete the event, the girls enjoyed extensive Q & A and laboratory tours from Audrey Adcock, Nailya Gilazova, and Dr. Valentine St. Hilaire. The topics included cell culture for cancer research, neurochemistry, and the natural origin of aspirin from salycylic acid.

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WIB-RTP: YWIB Visits BTEC, March 18, 2015

Posted By Breezy Lachance, Monday, June 24, 2019

On March 18, 2015, Winnell Newman hosted a group of 10th, 11th, and 12th graders at their Biomanufacturing Training and Education Center (BTEC) on NC State’s Centennial Campus for a Young Women In Bio event. The visit included an overview of ion exchange and size exclusion chromatography, an experiment illustrating separation though chromatography, and a tour of the laboratories and training facility.
 
To demonstrate how separation occurs in a chromatography column, grape soda, a syringe filled with small tightly packed particles, water, isopropyl alcohol and plastic cups were used: The color of grape soda comes from two different food colorings, blue 1 and red 40. Though both are relatively nonpolar, red 40 is slightly more polar which allows the two to be separated using a nonpolar stationary phase (packed particles), mobile phase (isopropyl alcohol), and a nonpolar solvent (water). The students hypothesized what would happen during each step of the separation and recombination of the components, then witnessed the results.

After separating out blue 1 and red 40 from grape soda, the students went through the labs where benchtop chromatographers were pointed out and looked into the training facility which, among other equipment, houses large chromatography skids and columns. Gowning practices and clean room design implemented in industry was also explained.
 
To learn more about chromatography check out these videos provided by GE Healthcare Life Sciences: Size Exclusion Chromatography and Ion Exchange Chromatography!

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WIB-RTP: How to Be Intentional With Your Online Brand on LinkedIn®, March 16, 2015

Posted By Breezy Lachance, Monday, June 24, 2019

WIB-RTP held its monthly event, “How to be intentional on LinkedIn,” on March 16, 2015, at the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, featuring Nannette Stangle-Castor, Ph.D., as the main speaker.

Laura McClung, WIB-RTP Chair, introduced Stangle-Castor, founder and president of Innovector Tech, Inc., and award-winning communicator and strategic advisor, who gave practical tips about developing a more impactful online presence to the audience.

“Be Intentional, Be Authentic, Be Impactful” – This motto was reflected in Stangle-Castor’s talk where she spoke about developing an authentic online brand which is extension of one’s personality. She highlighted the significance of a strong and impactful LinkedIn profile in one’s career progression, as LinkedIn profiles are often the top search results when potential employers search your name on the Web.

Stangle-Castor emphasized the importance of publishing a summary statement, which conveys a personal story, in addition to highlighting one’s accomplishments. She also stressed that making meaningful connections, that are beneficial to both parties, are much more important than increasing the number of connections. She closed her talk with an inspiring message: "Hope is not a strategy, so be intentional and do things that take you closer to your goal.”

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