As a scientist, I have the responsibility to engage with the public — not only to communicate research but also to foster an atmosphere of trust between scientists and society. I am extensively involved with science outreach through programs on the UW-Madison campus. I have engaged with children of all ages and adults by participating in Science Saturday at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, the Wisconsin Science Festival, and events hosted by the Wisconsin Institute for Science Literacy. I was also one of four students chosen campus-wide to be a part of the inaugural cohort of WISCIENCE Public Service Fellows. These opportunities allow me to combat stereotypes about scientists, address scientific misconceptions, and show others how basic science fits into the bigger picture of our lives and society as a whole.
Through the Pre-Enrichment Opportunity Program for Learning Excellence (PEOPLE), I have mentored two high school students from underserved areas by providing hands-on research experience and serving as a resource for various topics regarding undergraduate experiences. Throughout the program, I taught the mentees about safe laboratory practices, the responsible conduct of research, basic laboratory techniques, and how my research is meaningful to the general public.
I believe that graduate students should contribute knowledge to a field of study and aid the development of their future peers. As such, I also mentor undergraduate chemistry majors. I focus on what I teach the PEOPLE mentees but also emphasize the importance of soft skills, perspective, and career opportunities outside of academia. My outreach/mentoring activities are crucial to my happiness and success as a graduate student.
As a graduate student, I have also served on three student Q&A panels. In one instance, I talked about general life in graduate school, and in another instance, I was asked to speak about what it’s like being a non-traditional student who commutes from Illinois to Madison, Wisconsin, on a daily basis while raising a daughter and managing family responsibilities.
During the most recent panel, I led a discussion about how to navigate switching research groups in graduate school. As a student whose initial research group was disbanded, I recounted my thought process during this time, how I identified alternative groups, and the value of optimism during unexpected circumstances.