2022-23 School Year ISB Education Highlights · Institute for Systems Biology

Each month throughout the 2022-2023 academic year, we will highlight some of the top projects the team is working on.

September highlights

ISB Education reconnected with the community college faculty who learned with us Summer 2021 to hear more about their classroom implementation as part of the Research Coordination Network Incubator Project: Networking Systems Biologists with Community College Educators.

As part of this project, community college students across the region had opportunities to work with contemporary data sets. Here’s what participants are saying:

Participating faculty member: “I think that one of the things that makes collaborating with active researchers and other faculty who are interested in the work [so successful] is the immediacy of the information that we are working with. It’s great to be able to teach current research, rather than things that have been languishing in textbooks for a century.”

Participating faculty member: ”A fairly large portion of my students are from underrepresented communities and many are the first in their families to attend college or aspire to a Bachelor’s degree. I have been doing a sequencing project with them in the lab and the real world applications of their work excites many of  them. I am excited to have them work on a project that is a part of ongoing research and help them really identify as scientists for the first time.”

Participating student: “The [paper] that we studied taught me so much about different types of statistical representations used in science journals. I started out not understanding any of it and now I can look at similar charts and data and understand what’s going on. “

The ISB Education team is looking forward to continuing this important work with community college faculty with a 5-year National Science Foundation Research Coordination Project: Networking Next-Gen Biologists with Community College Educators.

The project will fund community college faculty and early-career researchers from non-degree granting institutions to collaborate around building classroom resources that incorporate big data.

  • Dr. Jen Eklund will lead this work with support from Claudia Ludwig, Dr. Jake Valenzuela, Dr. Sean Gibbons, Dr. Irene Shaver from the Washington State Board of Community and Technical Colleges, Kim Harrington from Tacoma Community College, and Kristen Joachimides from North Seattle College. 
  • The project will recruit scientists from a variety of institutions including ISB, Fred Hutch, Allen Institute, and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and community college faculty from across Washington state. 
ISB Education co-hosted the LASER Fall Workshop for educators across Washington, titled “How STEM Can Support Social Emotional Learning and Racial Equity.”

ISB Education is a partner in Washington State LASER, a science/STEM network of leaders. Learn more here. The winter and spring workshops will address other key topics for this school year: “Elementary Science Needs a Comeback!” and “Toolbox for Building Equitable Science Programs.”

Summer highlights (July through August)

ISB Education had a fun and productive time with 21 Undergraduate and 12 High School Research Interns at ISB this summer. 
Jim Heath with interns

ISB President Dr. Jim Heath is pictured with interns this summer.

Interns learned and contributed to research projects led by 23 ISB researchers in 10 of ISB’s labs. The Education team is analyzing the data about the impact of these efforts, which includes quantitative progress students make toward STEM success and qualitative measures such as these quotes: 

“I really loved my project and have learned so much during my time at ISB from lab skills to words of wisdom from mentors and interviews. Could not have had a better high school internship experience!”

“It was great. Truly. I am so grateful for this program and to the people I meet on the way. I can’t tell you how much more confidence it gave me going forward.”

ISB Education provided STEM learning experiences for 130 other high school students through virtual Environmental Systems in the Outdoors Research Experience, a leadership program, two courses at Washington Network for Innovative Careers, and our Systems Thinkers in STEM Ambassadorship.

Here’s what students had to say:

“During my time with ISB, I got to work a lot with systems. Besides my project, we identified and created our own systems which really helped me become confident that I could excel in STEM work. By being able to look into my own backyard and point out an actual system made me feel like a real scientist.”

“This was really eye-opening! I used to think leadership wasn’t for me, and would shy away from any leadership-related things, but this program changed my mind.”

“Initially I wasn’t sure whether to take the opportunity of this experience since I also had a lot of other activities going on at the time and wasn’t sure if it was worth my time. But I pushed myself to do so because I’ve been wanting to improve my leadership and communication skills. I found that decision to be a good one. I’ve learned lots from this program, challenged my own ideas, and confirmed some other things that have been said to me by mentors in the past. If there are more experiences like this, I would definitely want to do them.”

The Education team wrote two portraits of ISB Education’s workshops designed to support K-12 teachers, and funded by Washington state.

You can see all of the project portraits here.

RELATED: Click here to read the ISB Education highlights from the 2021-22 school year

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