Student Testimonials: 2006-2005
Graduate Student, Biochemistry
Chris Garcia Lab
The Structural Basis of Alloreactivity
The best part of being at The Tech was seeing how excited museum visitors get about science.
Science is really cool, but sometimes I do the same thing so often that I forget just how exciting it can be. Teaching kids about proteins and DNA makes me remember what a great job I have! This excitement about teaching and learning transitions to training the new volunteers as well. It was great to see the changes in teaching style and interaction as new participants in the program discovered their own styles and really made the floor experiments their own. Because of my experiences at The Tech , I feel much more confident and capable in explaining my own research to others.
Postdoc, Molecular Pharmacology
Daria Mochly-Rosen Lab
Proteomic approaches to the treatment of cardiovascular disease
What an awesome time at The Tech .
My time at The Tech was invaluable in forming my career. It showed me that teaching children is a viable option. My time spent doing experiments with kids that came through the museum made me realize that getting them interested in science may be more important than any discovery I might make in the lab. Educating children at this age can help grow the scientific community at an exponential rate. Seeing kids understand and get excited about the experiments I did with them was very rewarding. I hope to be a part of something like the genetics exhibit at The Tech throughout my career.
Postdoc, Molecular and Cellular Physiology
Merritt Maduke Lab
Chloride ion channels and transporters
Working at The Tech has been a very rewarding experience.
I greatly enjoyed learning to tailor each demonstration to the appropriate age level and seeing the kids’ excitement with science. Writing for the web site has helped me to communicate more clearly and given me an excuse to learn about science outside of my immediate field. It has also made me realize the obligation that we have as scientists to explain science to the public in an understandable manner. This past quarter, I have additionally had the opportunity to test a forthcoming exhibit for the museum. I have greatly enjoyed this challenge, and it has also given me an appreciation for the work that goes into exhibit design. I am sorry to see my time in this program ending, and I hope to continue to make scientific community outreach an important part of my life.
Grad Student, Developmental Biology
Anne Villeneuve Lab
Chromosome pairing in C. elegans meiosis
The The Tech program is awesome.
This program is great because you get experience in different ways to communicate science to people with a wide range of educational backgrounds. You can teach large or small groups, write for the Ask a Geneticist page, go behind the scenes of exhibit design, or come up with your own new thing that you want to try. The ability to explore different approaches is a fantastic opportunity to make an informed decision about what appeals to you most as a science educator.
Postdoc, Molecular and Cellular Physiology
Brian Kobilka Lab
Activation mechanism of G protein-coupled receptors
My experience as a volunteer for The Tech Museum was a wonderful one.
Never have I had a chance to work with such a diversity of children coming from many places around Northern California. Some of the kids traveled to the museum from towns as far away as Yosemite. Wow! Talk about commuting at a young age- but for them the trip was well worth it. The kids’ enthusiasm was a great reminder of taking in the wonders of nature and remembering why I went into a science career as a research scientist. Walking kids through the wet lab experiments was like fishing. The best part was when you know you hooked their curiosity because they actually understood what you’re talking about. Sometimes that was a real challenge as the attention spans varied greatly depending on whether they were first graders or high schoolers. Amazingly the little ones seemed to do quite fine. All in all, I would highly recommend this experience to any scientist with a remote interest in getting a taste of what’s like to be a teacher and ambassador for science.
Postdoc, Biological Sciences
Bruce Baker Lab
Neurobiology of Drosophila courtship behavior
I enjoyed my experiences at The Tech .
It was a welcome break from research because I could interact with a wide variety of people. It was always worth it to see the eyes of kids light up when they realize the have the right answer or see the answer to some puzzle. Sometimes it’s adults too who still have that spark of wonderment. On a personal level I learned a lot from trying to transform complex scientific principles into easy to approach and understand lessons and examples. I believe that it is always a good thing to get scientists out of the cocoon of research and interact with and reach out to the public.
Graduate Student, Biochemistry
Julie Theriot Lab
Bacterial cytoskeletal proteins
My experience at The Tech was both challenging and rewarding.
Working with the kids in the exhibit actually reminded me of why I got into science. The experiments are really fun, and the demonstration almost feels like a little magic show. Plus, I found it very interesting to see what the general public knows about genetics and science in general. And being able to teach them even the most basic things that we know was really enjoyable. I’d say that the experience is worthwhile for any student or postdoc, no matter what career path is in his/her future.
Postdoc, Biological Sciences
Virginia Walbot Lab
Maize molecular genetics
My experience at The Tech was phenomenal!
Volunteering at The Tech was a great experience. The most fulfilling part for me was learning how to explain complex scientific questions to general audiences. While the “Ask a Geneticist ” component was challenging, it provided me with the opportunity to teach my non-science friends and family more about cool scientific topics. Above all, I was proud to be a part of a program (and a vision) that stimulates young minds by sharing an enthusiasm for science.
Postdoctoral Fellow, Molecular and Cellular Physiology
Miriam Goodman Lab
Genetics of Behavior, Learning, and Memory
Working at The Tech was both more fun and more challenging than I expected.
I came to The Tech with the assumption that communicating scientific concepts to youth and lay audiences would be easy – just use simple words. But I quickly learned that there is a fine balance between ‘keeping it simple’ and losing all content and meaning. I improved my science communication skills by learning the power of a good analogy (thanks Barry!) and how to guide visitors through the exhibits at a level that was interesting and meaningful to each individual. It was rewarding to see people really get what you were teaching them, and to stimulate their interest in genetics and science in general.
Fellow, Pediatric Infectious Diseases
Yvonne Maldonado Lab
Oral Polio Vaccine
So glad I did it!
Working at The Tech was a completely rewarding experience. It was great to bring a little science directly into the community. The best was witnessing the "that's so cool!" moments from the kids. I also benefited by learning some genetics myself, and learning to write science for children. It was also great to be a part of launching a new exhibit, cheek cell staining.
Greg Barsh Lab
Research interest: Genetics of skin development and pigmentation in the mouse
Get out of the lab into the real world!
I really enjoyed going to The Tech and interacting with people who don’t necessarily think about science every day. It’s interesting to learn what people find fascinating. I was mostly involved with demonstrations about agarose gel running and how to make DNA from cow thymus. The fourth graders loved that they got to take home their mini science projects at the end of the demonstration. The best part was being able to leave my isolated lab bench for a few hours and interact with a wide variety of people who want to learn about genetics and DNA. As post-docs and graduate students, we are not given a lot of opportunities to do non-bench science, so I encourage everyone to use it as a way to get a broader training experience. This is true both for writing as well as for public speaking and teaching.
Anne Tecklenberg Strehlow
Grad Student, Genetics
Rick Myers Lab
Research interests: Genetics of Huntington Disease
Working at The Tech is a welcome break from your daily routine!
I enjoyed my experience at the Tech on many levels. Watching children, teachers, and parents take an interest in science is energizing. It also gives you real perspective on where the general public stands in terms of understanding the field of genetics. The Tech'sgenetics exhibit is making a great contribution towards increasing awareness by making DNA fun and accessible. Working at the Tech is also great for graduate students and post-docs considering careers paths outside of bench science and academia, such as science writing, curriculum development, teaching, community education, and of course, science museum-related jobs. My favorite aspect of the internship was writing for the Ask the Geneticist on-line exhibit. I actually learned a lot myself about several interesting topics while researching the answers.
Saccharomyces Genome Database
Genomics, Databases and Protein Chemistry
My experience at The Tech was very rewarding and fun.
The opportunity to talk to kids and adults of different ages about DNA, about science in general was very rewarding. This experience made me realize the disconnect that exists between researchers in the lab and the people outside and the great need to communicate science to the public and get kids and adults alike interested in science. I really enjoyed writing the articles for the Ask a Geneticist column as it allowed me to research and acquaint myself on some interesting topics. Writing and teaching science to kids challenged me at various levels and I encourage students and post-docs to give this a try.
Grad Student, Biological Sciences
Tim Stearns Lab
Characterization of the human gamma-tubulin complex
My experience at The Tech was amazing.
I went in thinking that I would be able to teach a lot of people about how wonderful genetics is but came out learning a lot myself. It gave me the opportunity to communicate, really communicate to others about important issues related to scientific research. The exhibit focuses on genetics, but this is just a portal through which the people who come through are able to talk about all kinds of scientific issues that they are faced with today. I met with people who came from all over the world and had the wonderful opportunity to see their eyes become wide with amazement when they learned more about themselves through the exhibits that we have at The Tech . Part of being a good scientist is having the ability to effectively communicate to others and I believe that this experience at The Techhas made me more capable of doing that.
Research Assistant, Genetics
Luca Cavalli-Sforza Lab
Genetic diversity of the Y Chromosome and ancient human migration
Working with visitors from around the Bay Area every week always brightened my Wednesdays.
I enjoyed explaining DNA and other genetics terms, and seeing that "look" of understanding and the realization that they could do science. But more importantly, I learned firsthand about the process of exhibition design and development (an area typically unavailable to most museum volunteers!). As someone interested in a museum career, this program offered an unusual opportunity - one that I happily took advantage of - to create a new element of the genetics exhibit and prototype new hands-on programs. To sum it all up, I wish I could stay longer and this program is great if you are considering a career outside of the lab and/or want to get involved with museums and the local community.
Grad Student, Genetics
Rick Myers Lab
Global Mechanisms of Transcription in Mammalian Cells
A very rewarding learning experience.
Before working at The Tech , I didn’t have many chances to learn how to talk about science with the lay public. During the course of a typical day on the museum floor, I worked with a diverse range of visitors ranging from 6 years old to adults. This was a great experience, because I often had to switch gears quite quickly from one group of visitors to another. It was also a great opportunity to learn to gage a visitor’s familiarity of scientific concepts in a few minutes after meeting them, so that I could tailor an exhibit to their level of understanding and hopefully let them walk away knowing something more. Writing for theAsk a Geneticist column was also an enriching experience, both because I learned more about scientific writing for a lay audience, and because I researched and read about topics that were completely unrelated to my thesis topic, so that with each article I wrote, my own horizons were broadened as well.
Working with the kids (and parents!) at The Tech Museum was a blast.
It was great spending time talking to non-scientists. They learned about genetics while I learned a lot about how the general public views science. I was often surprised by the issues people cared the most about. Leading the demonstrations made me nervous at first because I have always been shy about public speaking, but it paid off big time by helping me get used to talking in front of a crowd.
Learning how to write for non-scientists may sound like a specialized skill, but my scientific writing has benefited a lot from the tricks I learned for making articles clear and readable. I would recommend this experience for anyone. Of course it's a great opportunity for people who are considering alternative careers, but it is also great for those of us who aren't, since we probably need time away from the ivory tower the most.