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Stories about...MCBees

A local eighth grader learns about milk's hydrophobic and hydrophyllic properties.MCBees Share Their Passion for Science With Jefferson Middle School Students

May 21, 2019

Thanks to the MCBees, Jefferson Middle School eighth graders learned about some basic science topics in spring 2019, such as cells and the pH scale. A couple of times a month from February through May 2019, nine members of Illinois’ School of Molecular and Cellular Biology (MCB) graduate student organization dropped by Elizabeth Wheatman’s and Sammy Yoo’s  classes to lead students in some fun, STEM hands-on activities. The MCB Ph.D students (and postdocs) hoped to pique the younger students’ interest in science and possibly add some diversity to the field. Plus, the eighth graders weren’t the only ones to benefit; the scientists themselves got a lot out of the partnership. Some just enjoyed getting out of the lab for a bit, and others were reminded why they had become passionate about science in the first place.

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A student mashes strawberries so that she can collect the DNA from it.Jefferson Middle School Students Experience Cool Hands-On Science, Courtesy of the MCBees

December 12, 2018

Extract DNA from strawberries. Look at human cheek cells via a microscope. Make paper helicopters. These are some of the fun, hands-on STEM activities Jefferson Middle School eighth graders are getting to do courtesy of the MCBees, a graduate student organization from Illinois’ School of Molecular and Cellular Biology (MCB). So, a couple of times a month from October 2018 through May 2019, MCB Ph.D. students (and postdocs) are putting their research on hold for an hour or so in order to share their passion for science with Elizabeth Wheatman’s and Sammy Yoo’s eighth grade students. The two science teachers appreciated the MCBees’ spring 2018 activities so much that they invited them back for the entire 2018–2019 academic year too.

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MCBees Expose Jefferson Middle School Students to “Cool” Science Activities

April 23, 2018

Helping to bring the material in science textbooks alive, and maybe even introduce some stuff not found in textbooks, eight MCB PhD students have been dropping by Jefferson Middle School during the spring 2018 semester to share their expertise with eighth graders. Slated to visit twice a month, from February through May, the Illinois students, members of the MCBees GSA (Graduate Student Association), were tasked with presenting various topics and leading some corresponding hands-on activities in Sammy Yoo and Elizabeth Wheatman’s eighth-grade classrooms. Their goal? To foster interest in science and maybe even impart their own passion for research to the younger students.

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NGS’ Science Social Café Exposes Girls to Women in Science—Broadens Narrow Notions About Careers in Science

March 30, 2018

Most Thursdays, eleven middle school girls from Next Generation School can be found at the school’s brand new Science Social Café Club, chatting over lunch with local women who are scientists. Besides learning about different potential careers, as the girls hear how these women got to where they are today, they’re also absorbing some pointers about discovering their own careers. Some key ideas they’ve learned are: 1) If you discover that you don’t really like what you originally planned to do, it’s ok to change your mind. 2) You can fashion a career out of some very disparate disciplines. 3) If there’s something you love and are passionate about, you just might be able to make a career out of it.

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MCB PhD student Andie LiuAt NGS’ Science Social Café, MCBees Women Serve as Role Models, Exemplify Careers in Science

March 19, 2018

On Thursday March 9th, six MCB PhD students briefly put the work in their labs on hold to drop by the Science Social Café at Next Generation School’s STEAM Studio in Champaign. There, while a group of 11 middle school girls (and one boy) ate their lunches, they served as role models, explained a bit about how they ended up in science, shared what doing research as an MCB graduate student at Illinois is like, and described their career goals and other possible careers in their field. Plus, they were available to answer any of the younger students’ questions. The goal of the event? According to STEAM Studio Director Angela Nelson, it was to “break the boundary of ‘You could be a doctor, an engineer, or a lawyer,’” and open the youngsters up to the myriad possible careers, such as in science and research.

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Heredia at work in Erik Procko’s development lab.MCB’s Jeremiah Heredia: Passionate about HIV-1 Research, STEM Outreach to Underserved

February 8, 2018

Jeremiah Heredia hasn’t always been as passionate about science as he is now. In fact, as a kid, he didn’t like it one bit. “Not at all,” he admits. “I wasn’t into science at all.” Actually, he wanted to be a baseball player…a second baseman, to be precise. Nowadays, however, instead of pulling on a baseball glove, the fourth year Biochemistry PhD student is pulling on vinyl lab gloves. But he’s still competitive. However, instead of trying to beat an opposing little league team, he’s moved on up to the big leagues and is going after an even bigger W. He hopes to beat some of the major diseases plaguing our society, like HIV-1, for instance. And when he’s not in the lab, he’s out doing something else he’s passionate about…getting underserved students excited about science.

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Paola Estrada during during the I-STEM Camp's MCB DayMCB’s Paola Estrada Passionate About Research, Getting Students Excited About Science

November 9, 2017

PhD students, as a general rule, have very little free time—most of their waking hours are spent holed up in some lab doing research. The precious little free time they do get, most choose to use it getting caught up on sleep or on food—or to socialize. Not Paola Estrada, however. This summer, the MCB PhD student took a break from her research to try to get 27 Urbana High School (UHS) students interested in science and engineering. Involved in MCB Day, the first day of I-STEM’s summer camp this August, Estrada helped to expose the high schoolers to some of the basics of microbiology. Ironically, it involved forensics. The MCBees used a classic detective game of “Whodunit?” in which students used science to solve the murder of a grad student, and forensics is what brought Estrada to the US and set her on her journey as a researcher of protein crystallography.

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MCBees Use “Whodunit?” to Pique UHS Students’ Interest in Science During I-STEM Summer Camp

September 27, 2017

A grad student is dead. Who did it? An undergrad who wanted the grad student’s spot and/or funding? The professor who was upset with the student because he wasn't working hard enough in the lab?

This “Whodunit?” was the scenario members of the MCBees came up with to get 27 Urbana High School (UHS) students excited about STEM, specifically DNA research. The MCBees, the MCB (School of Molecular and Cellular Biology) graduate student organization, provided the hands-on activities for day one of the first-ever, I-STEM Summer Camp, a multidisciplinary summer program from August 7–18, which focused on exposing underrepresented minorities to the many different STEM fields and career opportunities, building teamwork and lab skills in the students, and showing them what STEM research is like.

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I-STEM Multidisciplinary Summer Program Exposes UHS Athletes to Different STEM Departments/Units

September 12, 2017

Twenty-seven Urbana High School (UHS) athletes, mostly underrepresented minorities, participated in the first-ever I-STEM Summer Camp from August 7–18. The goals of this multidisciplinary summer program were to 1) expose participants to various STEM fields so they know what their options are when choosing their career/ college path; 2) to build teamwork and lab skills in different STEM disciplines; and 3) to allow students to experience what STEM research is about. Ten different STEM departments and units on campus were each responsible for one day of activities during the two-week camp.

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Illinois' MCBees Expose STEAM Studio's STEAMcation Students to Medieval Science

August 16, 2016

On July 25th, 24 local youngsters spent the morning doing some hands-on activities learning about science —in medieval times and today—as part of STEAMcation, the 9-week summer program of STEAM Studio, Next Generation School’s after-school and summer program. And taking the morning away from their labs to sharing their scientific expertise and passion about their field with the youngsters were a number of outreach-minded Ph.D. students who are members of the MCBees, a graduate student group from MCB (Molecular and Cellular Biology).
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STEAMcation Provides Summer STEAM ...With a Little Help from Illinois Friends

August 16, 2016

The 48 local youngsters who spent the summer at STEAMcation doing activities which incorporated art into a variety of STEM-related activities not only had a lot of fun. They learned some STEM principles too. And helping teach the youngsters about some of these topics were a number of outreach-minded University of Illinois folk, such as the MCBees, a graduate student group from MCB (Molecular and Cellular Biology), and RailTEC, the Rail Transportation and Engineering Center.
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MCBees Help Provide Student Support, Recruit, & Share the Joy of Science

April 26, 2016

In the past, new graduate students coming into Illinois' 10-year-old School of Molecular and Cellular Biology (MCB) didn’t have much interaction with other grad students who had been in MCB for a while. During their first six months at Illinois, they were somewhat isolated as they rotated from lab to lab to find their niche, then got further divided as they entered one of MCB’s four departments: Biochemistry, Cell and Developmental Biology, Microbiology, and Molecular and Integrative Physiology (MIB). Then, once that first semester was done, they didn’t really come into contact with their classmates any more, “because you kind of get busy with your work," admits Biochemistry grad student Amruta Bhate, "and you only meet people from your department."
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