The University of Chicago Office of the Provost and UChicago Global provided a grant to Sonia Hernandez, PhD, Research Assistant Professor of Surgery; Oscar Pineda-Catalan, PhD, Senior Lecturer at Biological Sources Collegiate Division, University of Chicago; and a cohort of UChicago scientists to teach high school and college students about the scientific process through a program called STEM-OUT Mexico.
“The goal of this program is to teach students how to actually generate science like we do in our labs, as opposed to working out of textbooks in a classroom,” said Hernandez. “We want to inspire them to pursue careers in STEM and to be advocates for science. As program coordinators and mentors, we also have the opportunity to learn from each other and share our own work.”
In collaboration with the nonprofit organization Clubes de Ciencia, Dr. Hernandez applied her experience in education and mentorship to inspire a new generation of scientists and reinforce international institutional relations through a series of workshops.
“Dr. Hernandez’s project is both exciting and very important,” said Jessica J. Kandel, MD, Mary Campau Ryerson Professor of Surgery, Chief of Pediatric Surgery. “Her work in the development of mentors in Mexico is building out the diversity of the research bench worldwide and growing the body of experts in science.”
Paired with a Mexican investigator, each workshop engaged in a pertinent question from scientific study, resulting in an oral presentation or poster session to teach students how to communicate their findings. Through STEM-OUT Mexico, the four UChicago mentors instructed more than 60 students in two cities, Chihuahua and Oaxaca.
“These students are doing relevant research to answer questions that researchers are asking, and they’re learning the techniques and concepts that we use every day,” said Dr. Hernandez.