I was invited by my high school science teacher to come back and speak to the high school Genetics and Advanced Bio classes today about my research, and more generally how I got to be doing a science PhD. The teachers made a big deal about how grateful they were to me for giving my time, which of course was nice, but to be honest it didn’t put me out at all. I love doing outreach and getting people interested in and excited about science, and to be able to do that at my old high school, where my journey as a scientist really began, was like coming full circle. It was really humbling to get such positive feedback from not just the students and teachers I talked to but also from other people around the school- guidance counselors, administrators, and other teachers- who had heard about my talk through the grapevine.
When I was in high school, I had no idea what immunology was- I really didn’t learn about it for the first time until towards the end of undergrad. From that regard, it was a little bit daunting to try to put together a presentation about immunotherapy geared towards high school students. I wanted to make the science accessible but still show real data and give an insight into this up-and-coming field. That being said, I was extremely pleased and surprised with the questions and feedback I got from the students today! I’m actually going to do a post next week with some of the questions and answers the students requested. Luckily I stayed on my toes because a lot of the questions were not things that I expected to hear! Then again, I’m coming at science with at least 5 more years of experience than these students; it really grounded me to realize how much one’s understanding and thinking can evolve over that amount of time.
Overall I am just very happy with the experience I had today and it makes me even more sure that a) science needs better PR (actually a quote from one of the teachers today; I like it!) and b) I like talking about science. So while I’m not sure how I will do it, I am sure that in my career I will somehow incorporate teaching and/or outreach.
If any of the students I talked to today see this post: Hi! Please don’t hesitate to comment/email me/reach me through the comments form above. I’d love to hear from you!!