STEMpowerment

Big Accomplishment Friday (Sunday edition) – April 24, 2015

View of snow squalls moving into the city

View of snow squalls moving into the city from dinner on Wednesday

This week was HUGE for me.  The kind of week that’s so busy your head spins, and the days are long but rewarding.  Weeks this full and busy only happen maybe once a year.  Here’s a quick summary of all the greatness that transpired week.

As you all know, on Monday night, I had the opportunity to hang out with the Cub Scouts, talk to them about science, and build marshmallow buildings with them.  It’s always rewarding to see little ones excited about science.

Wednesday morning, I got another opportunity to speak with some outstanding young women at a local high school career day.  A lot of the girls knew what they wanted to do – physicians assistant, nurse, veterinarian, engineer, and teacher were all mentioned as planned career paths.  Of course, many of the girls didn’t yet know what else they wanted to do.  I hope that some were inspired by the different professions that were discussed in my presentation, or at least encouraged to consider further education in STEM.

Long-distance view of the Tiger's game from dinner Wednesday evening

Long-distance view of the Tiger’s game from dinner Wednesday evening

Wednesday afternoon, my lab submitted a grant on breast cancer research.  Submitting a grant proposal is BIG work.  The proposal we wrote was a 12 page proposal, but also need to include four different one-page descriptions for various reviewers, budget information, information about the people doing the work and where it will be done, and a number of other documents.  Putting it all together takes a lot of team work, and is a quite a task.  I think we will be submitting 2 or 3 similar-sized proposals in early June.

Also on Wednesday (did I mention what a week this was?), a research group I’m in put on an all afternoon symposium about different aspect of lipids research.  Five speakers from around the country came to speak, and there was a student poster competition.  All of the talks were fantastic, and the posters were great too.  This particular research group is very interesting, because it involves people from lots of different disciplines who are brought together by their study of lipids.  We had medical doctors, biologists, chemists, physicists, engineers, physiologists, and many others.  The work done by our student researchers was so impressive – it was very hard serving as a judge for their competition with all the fantastic work they are doing.  This conference was very scientific, and used a lot of cutting edge technologies to better understand very specific processes at a cellular or molecular level.

Everyone loves a giant chair!

Everyone loves a giant chair!

A fun part about helping plan symposiums is that the planning committee gets to entertain the out of town guests.  I enjoyed fantastic company over fantastic dinners on Tuesday and Wednesday as well.

Many delicious desserts were consumed this week!

Many delicious desserts were consumed this week!

The week didn’t stop there!  Friday I had the opportunity to attend a brain tumor symposium put on by Henry Ford Hospital.  As opposed to the Wednesday conference, this conference was very clinically focused, with the aim of improving treatment and outcomes for brain tumor patients.  A lot of the talks were what you expect – how to treat tumors, understanding the genetic processes causing brain cancer, and what types of treatments are in development.  But – some of the talks were unexpected too.  Things like quality of life, how to standardize care, and research funding.  Working in academics, it’s always great to attend clinical conferences to get a better understanding of the problem we’re studying and find new ways we can help.  I walked away from the conference refreshed, and with lots of new ideas for the future!  That evening was another fancy dinner, and party to celebrate an amazing leader in brain cancer research.  The work he’s done has completely changed the way the entire country looks at and treats brain cancer, and the impact he’s made in research, clinical treatment, and to his patients and their families is an inspiration.

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