COMPASS Outreach Grant 2022 Roundup

Three times a year, the Committee for Postdocs and Students (COMPASS) awards Outreach Grants of up to $1,000 to trainee-led events that communicate cell biology with the public. Below are summaries of the outreach projects we were proud to fund in 2022. We look forward to everyone’s applications in 2023! To learn more and apply, visit:

Developing Future Biologists at the University of Michigan. It is a week-long summer short course to teach undergraduate students fundamental concepts in developmental biology. This event exposed underrepresented and underserved undergraduate students to the field of developmental biology and provided course instructors with experience in inclusive teaching.

Developing Future Biologists

The Yale SACNAS Chapter organized an event to give middle school students hands-on science activities that they would otherwise not be able to experience at school. These activities included microscopy and turning matter into electricity.

Students at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai organized an event for local fifth graders. They built models of DNA and extracted DNA from fruit.

RadioBio at the University of California, Merced, hosted a community science and art event called ValleyBio, which included seminars, demonstration tables, and local organizations. This event created a tangible way for the community to interact with scientists outside of the traditional academic setting and learn about science topics that directly impact their community.

Science Education & Engagement for Kids (SEEK) at the University of Michigan hosted a Physiology Fun Day event that taught third and fourth graders about five organ systems through hands-on activities. The goals were to introduce kids to the systems of the human body, ignite an interest in STEM fields, and provide volunteers with an opportunity to design and teach hands-on science lessons in a high-need, low-resource classroom setting.

Beyond the Tip of the Iceberg at the University of California, San Diego connected high school Biology students with current Biology PhD students. They discussed how and when PhD students discovered their interest in biology, how they navigated personal and professional hurdles, and what careers or research topics they were interested in. This event also highlighted the broader impacts of biology careers on society by addressing opportunities in academic and industry research, public policy, medical sciences, and science education.

The Great Biology Bake-off:

The Great Biology Bake Off at the University of Wisconsin-Madison paired high school students with graduate students to present a topic of current cell biology research in the form of a baking project. This event aimed to foster strong connections between student participants and graduate student mentors and bring together the research community and the local community in Madison.

A postdoc at the University of Calgary hosted an event at Prowess Children School in Nigeria to promote malaria research among high school girls. This event included a seminar about malaria research, an excursion to a malaria research lab, and hands-on activities with microscopes.

Trainees at Stanford University and UC San Diego collaborated to organize an outreach event for middle and high school students. This event included DNA extraction, PCR, and agarose gels to encourage young people to make connections between studying science at school and career opportunities through interactive lab activities shared by inspiring role models. It also provided early career researchers opportunities to build their science communication skills.

Students at the University of Miami connected with Miami Edison High School to tour biochemistry and molecular biology labs, interact with demos, and learn about ongoing research.

About the Author:

Sara Wong is a COMPASS co-chair. She earned her PhD in Cell and Molecular Biology at the University of Michigan, where she studied organelle inheritance in Dr. Lois Weisman’s Lab. She is currently a postdoc at the University of Utah, where she studies mitochondrial derived compartments in Dr. Adam Hughes’ lab. Twitter: @sarajwong