In an effort to promote diversity and equity in STEM, my lab participates in a multifaceted array of activities, particularly in the underserved neighborhoods of West Philadelphia, that benefit both members of the lab and the community. Besides designing and implementing affordable professional development modules for high school teachers and providing in-class instruction to West Philly students, we encourage classes from the surrounding community to visit our lab. Additionally, each summer we host at least one FGLI high school student for a hands-on research experience in the lab ??through the Penn Laboratory Experience in Natural Sciences () program.
We collaborate with Palms Solutions, a Philadelphia non-profit organization whose mission is to promote a socially cohesive environment that values diversity and creates a sense of belonging, mutual respect, and understanding between the Multicultural Diaspora and the City of Philadelphia. In particular, we support Palms Solutions’ goals to provide academic proficiency and outcome of students in underserved schools through after-school and summer programs.
2. We develop high school experiments using our model organism H. volcanii. The experimental design for this project is unique in that while the experiment is sophisticated, teaching students about broad aspects of the fundamental elements of microbiology, most of the required ingredients can be purchased at a grocery store, and since this non-pathogenic organism requires high salt conditions for growth, sterile techniques are not required to prevent contamination and the risk of exposure to human pathogens is non-existent. For student protocols and teacher guides click here.
Simple H. volcanii DNA purification:
UV mutagenesis and photo repair:
The publication describing this experiment “Laboratory Activity to Promote Student Understanding of UV Mutagenesis and DNA Repair” is available here.
You can find the article describing the experiment here.
3. Together with Dr. Ingrid Waldron and Dr. Lori Spindler we organize Philadelphia high school teacher professional development workshops (student protocols and teacher guide).
4. Middle and high school students perform their science fair projects in our lab. Lab members also judge at the local high school science fair. Several students have earned prizes at the Carver Science Fair and the Delaware Valley Science Fair
5. Philadelphia middle-school students visit the lab