Spotlight: COMPASS Outreach Grant recipients

Young Scientist Outreach Program. Photo by Brianna Gregg.

The ASCB Committee for Postdocs and Students (COMPASS) is a group of trainees dedicated to promoting the voice and visibility of early career scientists, including through science outreach. Such outreach not only allows us to showcase to the public how government funds are spent toward scientific progress, but also enables us to inspire the next generation of scientists. To this end, COMPASS holds a grant competition to fund ASCB members engaged in outreach activities within their local communities. Preference is given to grant projects in underserved communities.

See highlights below of recently funded projects. Do you have an idea for an outreach activity within your local community? The next grant deadline is September 1!

The Young Scientist Program – This program founded by a University of California, Davis, graduate student aims to enhance science education for K-12 students in California’s San Joaquin Valley. Volunteer graduate students work with local teachers to bring interactive hands-on labs to the classroom, thereby empowering young students to pursue STEM fields while also enhancing graduate student teaching and communicat

Young Scientist Outreach Program. Photo by Brianna Gregg.

ion skills.

Sharon STEM Talks – Based in Sharon, MA, this program uses a Science Café–style approach to bring members of the public together with scientists to facilitate science discussion. The monthly seminars, presented by a diverse set of local scientists, are held at a public library. This type of outreach gives scientists a chance to practice communicating in lay terms while allowing the public, specifically younger generations, to engage with the local science community.

Cell Biology Day at Anschutz – Graduate student organizers invite middle school students to visit the Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus for a day of cell biology exploration. Students participate in hands-on lab activities, tour active labs on campus, and eat lunch with graduate students to learn more about their research and careers. These visits introduce young people to what a research lab looks like and shows them the diverse types of people who work

Young Scientist Outreach Program. Photo by Brianna Gregg.

in academic science.

Community Partnership in Lyme Disease Prevention – Amy Prunuske organizes outreach events with middle and high school science students to collect field data on tick species and pathogens. Students learn about zoonotic diseases and participate in the data collection by using in-the-field genotyping assay technology. This citizen-driven science project promotes Lyme disease prevention and gets the public involved.

GO:MCB & CaresBio – The University of Connecticut GO:MCB graduate student program has teamed up with a local biotechnology company, CaresBio, to engage 4th– to 12th-grade students in a science fair. For an afternoon, younger students and their families participate in a variety of events that cover basic science concepts. Meanwhile, over the course of a month older students work one-on-one with a graduate student mentor to develop and execute a science project. This partnership not only invests in a new generation of scientists, but also gives graduate students a chance to work on their mentoring skills.

Starkville Science Club – Here the COMPASS outreach grant is funding the implementation of a “Cell Biology For Life” teaching module for middle and high school students in the Starkville Science Club. S

From Community Partnership in Lyme Disease Prevention Outreach.

tudents have access to microscopes and fixed slides displaying a diverse set of cell types. In addition, members of the club tour the cutting-edge resources at The

Institute for Imaging and Analytical Technologies at Mississippi State University. Using this hands-on experience as a gateway, this module aims to spark interest in science through the powerful tool of imaging and observation.

Developing Future Biologists –Graduate students at the University of Michigan developed a short course on developmental biology for local undergraduate students whose curricula currently lack this training. This course travels from university to university, making it available to students without their needing to travel. This program aims to promote biomedical and developmental biology research as career pathways for underrepresented undergraduate students.

Undergraduate Research & Community-Engaged Learning – At Duquesne University undergraduate

From Community Partnership in Lyme Disease Prevention Outreach.

students participating in a summer research program are paired with middle school summer campers. The undergraduates develop life science activities to complete with the middle school students over several weeks. These undergraduate-designed activities impart both an enthusiasm for science and an in-depth knowledge of basic science concepts. This also allows undergraduates to hone their teaching and communication skills.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are the views of the author(s) and do not represent the official policy or position of ASCB.

About the Author:

Amanda Haage is a newly minted assistant professor at the University of North Dakota. She previously trained as a postdoctoral fellow in Guy Tanentzapf’s Lab at the University of British Columbia and received her PhD in 2014 from Iowa State University in Ian Schneider’s Lab. She is generally interested in how the microenvironment regulates cellular behavior as well as promoting diversity and inclusion in science. Twitter: @mandy_ridd and Email: