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Your Input is Needed! Connecting with the STEMAP Network

By October 7, 2019No Comments


Dear STEM Ambassadors and Community Partners,

It has been a busy month for the STEM Ambassador Program! Several STEM Ambassadors have visited local senior centers to share their work. JJ Horns spent an afternoon at the Riverton Senior Center where he discussed his research on migratory birds.  David Belnap presented his work on viruses at the Liberty Senior Center, and Shrinivasan Raghuraman discussed neuroscience at the 10th East Senior Center.

STEM Ambassadors could also be found in several other community venues this past month. Dara Niketic hosted an event at Watchtower Café bringing together community members over a shared appreciation for tattoos. The event featured images of science-themed tattoos shared by STEM Ambassadors and other University of Utah scientists. Dara also organized a science scavenger hunt, a temporary tattoo station, and a space for participants to design their own tattoo. David Belnap has also been weaving together the arts and sciences. He has partnered with Samantha Dewey, an artist at the University of Utah, to transform virus images into intricate coloring pages. David shared the coloring book this month with students at the Girls Transition Center.

In addition to preparing public engagement activities, the STEM Ambassador Program also participated in the SciComm Fair hosted by the University of Utah Graduate School. The event featured a panel discussion with Joe Palca and Madeline Sofia from NPR, Nels Elde in the Human Genetics Department at the University of Utah, and Nalini Nadkarni, STEMAP Director and Biology Professor at the University of Utah. Several public engagement groups on campus had tables at the event, including STEMAP. Thank you to the Ambassadors who shared their public engagement work at the STEMAP table!

Now that the 2017 cohort has concluded, the STEM Ambassador newsletter will begin running every other month, rather than every month. We will still be accepting article contributions from STEM Ambassadors and community partners. Please contact us if you are interested in writing a public engagement piece for the newsletter!

Lastly, STEMAP is exploring new ways for the STEMAP network to stay connected. We would like feedback from Ambassadors and community partners on whether they would use a slack channel to communicate and share engagement ideas. Please share your thoughts on the short survey question embedded in this month’s newsletter.

Thank you,

Nalini Nadkarni, Director
Caitlin Weber, Program Manager,
Megan Young, Program Coordinator
Allyson Jelitto, STEMAP Assistant

Your Input is Needed!

Connecting with the STEMAP Network

The STEM Ambassador Program is considering using Slack, an online collaboration and messaging service, for the STEMAP network to communicate. However, we would like your feedback before we set this up! Would you use a Slack channel to communicate with Ambassadors, community partners, or STEMAP staff?  Let us know in the space below!
Would you use Slack or a similar program to communicate with the STEMAP network?

Contact us to provide additional input or comments!

SciComm Fair 2017

Ambassadors Julia McGonicle, Kevin Davenport, and Judy Ou at the STEMAP table.
STEM Ambassadors  gathered to enjoy a day full of public engagement at the SciComm Fair on October 23rd. Participants listened in on a panel discussion with Joe Palca and Madeline Sofia, from NPR’s Friends of Joe’s Big Idea, as well as Associate Professor Nels Elde and Professor Nalini Nadkarni. An informative Q&A followed the discussion of the importance of training in science communication. STEM Ambassadors and staff promoted the STEM Ambassador program at a table displaying Ambassador work in a variety of communities. Students had the opportunity to chat with Ambassadors about their projects and the STEM Ambassador Program.

Thank you to the University of Utah Graduate School for hosting such a successful science communication event and to all the STEM Ambassadors who participated!

Shrinivasan Raghuraman at 10th East Senior Center

Ambassador Shrinivasan Raghuraman in the lab.
Ambassador Shrinivasan Raghuraman visited the 10th East Senior Center on Thursday, November 16th. He discussed the history of neuroscience with a group of interested seniors, advancing from ancient medical exploration to modern discoveries in pain receptor science. Shrinivasan included an overview of his own contribution to neuroscience, and explained the many methods neural cells use to communicate with one another.

Thank you to the 10th East Senior Center for hosting the STEM Ambassador Program and Shrinivasan!

Dara Niketic at Watchtower Cafe

Ambassadors Dara Niketic and Amanda Cooper show off their new temporary science and nature themed tattoos drawn by local tattoo artist, Krystal Johnson of Ironclad Electric Tattooing.
Ambassador Dara Niketic led a night of science tattoo fun at Watchtower Cafeon November 17th, including (temporary) science tattoos and a display of science tattoos from University of Utah researchers (including several from STEM Ambassadors!).

Artists from Ironclad Electric Tattooing joined Dara and her scientist volunteers to draw temporary tattoos and discuss the tattooing process.

Thank you to the volunteers, Watchtower Café, and Ironclad Electric Tattooing for helping make Dara’s event a success!

STEM Ambassador Reflections

We are excited to feature several articles from STEM Ambassadors in this month’s newsletter. Read about their engagement experiences below!

JJ Horns at Riverton Senior Center

Ambassador JJ Horns demonstrates birding techniques in the field.
On Monday November 13th I was fortunate enough to speak with clients at the Riverton Senior Community Center. I spent ~30 minutes discussing the importance of bird migration and how biologists go about studying this phenomenon. I also touched on a migratory study recently completed by my lab and highlighted how it furthers conservation action. The audience (of roughy ten seniors) was extremely attentive and engaged. They asked insightful questions that often anticipated important details that I had yet to bring up. They seemed to enjoy both the science and personal stories contained in the talk and at least one expressed an interest in learning more about some of the species that were discussed.

David Belnap at Liberty Senior Center

Ambassador David Belnap and artist Samantha Dewey working on virus coloring pages.
I spoke at the Liberty Senior Center in Salt Lake City on November 15 about my work studying and imaging viruses.  I spoke in the main lunch area of the center because other rooms were either too small or not available.  At first, only a few people were present, and I wondered if they were even listening.  Some people were conversing at the tables.  However, I kept going and gradually a number of people trickled in.  By the time I finished, the room seemed nearly full and table conversations seemed to have stopped.

I’m sure giving a talk around lunchtime helps, but the people were attentive, for which I was grateful.  We left some virus-themed coloring pages developed in partnership with artist, Samantha Dewey, for them to try.  I think one thing I would do differently next time would be to solicit their input during the presentation.  I asked for questions at the end and a couple questions were asked, but I may have helped them feel more comfortable asking questions if I would have asked them for input during my presentation.

Public Engagement Opportunity

Salt Lake County Senior Centers

A STEM Ambassador presents at a local senior center.
Interested building your communication skills and sharing your work in a new venue? Since the start of STEMAP, Ambassadors have offered thirteen science programs at local senior centers.  STEMAP has developed relationships with several centers that are just a short walk or drive from the University of Utah. STEMAP staff provides guidance in developing your materials and connecting with an appropriate center.

Contact us if you are interested in sharing your work at one of Salt Lake County’s senior centers. This is a great venue to engage in conversations about science!

Upcoming Event

12/04/17                         Lauren Williams at 10th East Senior Center

Newsletter Changes

As the STEM Ambassador Program moves into the next phase of the project, we will be shifting the newsletter to every other month. This means that while there will not be a newsletter for December, you can expect to hear from us in January.

We wish you a fabulous holiday season, and will see you in the new year!

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