Updated: Nov 22
New York Bioforce delivers a comprehensive science research training program and a paid internship to 11th and 12th grade students who have been historically underrepresented in the STEAM fields. Throughout our 2023 pre-internship training program held between April and June, we provided 27 Bioforce participants with over 100 hours of science research and professional skills training. These preparatory sessions were held at Columbia University and facilitated by a diverse team of mission-driven Ph.D. students in biomedical engineering and related specialties from Columbia University and Rockefeller University.
The training covered a wide array of topics, including an introduction to scientific terms and thinking, deconstruction of science research papers, data and statistics, Python training, genetics, dilution, and spherification experiments. Bioforce also featured panel discussions addressing identity in the STEAM fields that focused on combating internal narratives related to belonging in a competitive space, particularly for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds.
In the first session, teaching artists from the theater group Irondale engaged the students in team building and improv comedy exercises to foster a sense of camaraderie. Then our instructors delved into a unit on health disparities, exploring various sources of health inequities and social determinants of health based on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines. Subsequently, students created and presented group research projects that provided background on and potential solutions to a health disparity of their choosing. This project developed their collaborative and presentation skills, proving invaluable during the later presentation of their internship research at our poster session.
The training sessions also featured four distinguished guest speakers, including scientists and life science professionals from esteemed industry institutions like Merck and Regeneron. They shared their career trajectories and emphasized the diverse array of career prospects within the realm of the STEAM fields.
Upon completing the training, interns were strategically matched with mentor scientists from Weill Cornell Medicine (WCM), Columbia University, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC). Notably, Bioforce secured anp internship for a student at Rover Diagnostics, a biotech start-up specializing in rapid PCR technology for COVID-19 and other infectious diseases. Additionally, two students benefited from a new collaboration by interning at the New York Proton Center, an innovative cancer treatment facility that exposed them to direct patient care.
After completing their six-week paid internships, students presented their research at the New York Science Research and Mentoring Consortium (NYCSRM) Poster Session held at the American Museum of Natural History. The posters showcased the range of topics they studied during their internships. Family members, mentors, and teachers came to celebrate the students' hard work. In exit interviews, many students said that the poster session was the program's highlight. Post-program surveys affirmed that the NY Bioforce heightened students' understanding of STEAM career options, bolstered their confidence working in a research lab, and cultivated critical skills essential for success in a STEAM career.
To learn more about New York Biorforce: https://www.hypothekids.org/new-york-bioforce