Attention undergraduates students intrigued by a career in regenerative medicine, biology, and engineering: the Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine (ISCRM) may have the perfect summer experience for you. It’s all part of a broader effort to help more people from more backgrounds explore opportunities in science careers.
At ISCRM, community engagement comes in many forms. Public forums, tours, and science talks in the South Lake Union neighborhood enable ISCRM to connect with the public and spark a sense of possibility for future scientists.
Each year, ISCRM faculty, trainees, and staff team up to offer hands-on science experiences for hundreds of K-12 students, including road shows to local schools and interactive tours of the institute’s South Lake Union labs. In just two recent examples, ISCRM researchers traveled to Mill Creek Middle School in Kent for a full-day of workshops exploring biomaterials and hosted a cohort of middle school girls on a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education field trip organized by the nonprofit Techbridge Girls.
At the heart of ISCRM’s outreach to schools is a desire to lower opportunity barriers that often prevent under-served youth from pursuing careers in STEM fields. “Every chance we get to help a young person develop a deeper relationship with science is incredible,” says Lil Pabon, the Research Operations Director in the Murry Lab. “We want to build on that by opening more doors for them as they grow up. My dream is to see a child visit in elementary school and one day return as an intern or a PhD student.”
Pabon’s dream isn’t just wishful thinking. In fact, ISCRM is now laying the groundwork for a lifetime engagement model that would begin in grade school and continue through all levels of education, from undergraduate and graduate to postdoc and career. It’s all in the name of creating opportunities.
”We agree with the notion that diversity enriches the scientific workforce. However, some people don’t get the chance to gain an appreciation for the amazing opportunities available,” says Pabon. That’s why she and her colleagues are focused on priority populations identified by the NIH, including: racial and ethnic groups that have been shown to be underrepresented in biomedical research, individuals with disabilities, who are defined as those with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, and women, who are underrepresented in many STEM careers.
Now, a new ISCRM program offers real-world research experience for undergraduate students. The Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) in Regenerative Biology and Engineering will enable undergraduate students from any university to work full-time with leading scientists over the course of ten-weeks.
Offered in partnership with the UW Center for Neurotechnology and departments of Bioengineering, Biochemistry, Pathology, Pharmacology, and Orthopedics, the REU also provides access to lectures on ethics, communications, laboratory safety, and other select topics. Participants will even have opportunities to present their research in poster sessions at the end of the summer.
Applications for the ISCRM REU are now being accepted here. The program includes a stipend, housing, and reimbursement of travel expenses.
“We hope anyone with an interest in regenerative medicine, biology, and engineering will apply,” says Kelly Stevens, an Assistant Professor of Bioengineering and Pathology. “This is a wonderful opportunity to join a collaborative, imaginative research community.”