NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

NIGMS Hosts High School Career Day

group photo of students with NIH staffers
Students from Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School meet with NIGMS director Dr. Jon Lorsch and other NIGMS staff as part of the school’s Career Partnership Day.

Photo:  Sally Lee

Many students dream of becoming scientists and making the next great discovery, but they don’t always know the best way to get there. NIGMS recently welcomed six juniors from Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School as part of B-CC’s annual High School Career Partnership Day. 

The students had an opportunity to explore what it means to be a scientist at NIH while also receiving career and college advice. They were all thinking about scientific careers before arriving on campus, but they left realizing there are even more opportunities and paths than they had imagined. 

The students were greeted by NIGMS director Dr. Jon Lorsch, who gave an overview of the institute and the importance of basic biomedical research. He noted that NIGMS has funded the cutting-edge basic research of 87 Nobel laureates over the years.

NIGMS postdoctoral fellows then took the students on tours of their labs. The students got to hear about research in engineering, microbiology, biophysics and immunology and see what a typical day is like for a scientist working in the lab. 

Uppermost in students’ minds was, “Do you have to do a lot of math?” While scientists do have to use math, the youngsters seemed relieved to hear that calculators are allowed after high school.

In a lab demonstration, Wall shows three B-CC students how to streak a petri dish.
NIGMS PRAT fellow Erin Wall (r) shows B-CC students how to streak a petri dish to grow bacteria.

Photo:  Credit Ashley Swanson

In a tour of the Clinical Center, the students saw firsthand how research moves from the lab to the bedside. They learned about clinical trials at NIH and how clinicians do important research as well. 

Like most juniors, they were thinking about colleges, research opportunities and what majors they should declare if they want to be scientists. They spoke with a range of NIGMS staff—postdocs, program officers, Lorsch and NIGMS Executive Officer Sally Lee. Everyone in the room had a different major, college and experience that led them to NIGMS. 

The biggest takeaway from the day was that there isn’t just one path to becoming a scientist. 

The day offered students reinforcement and motivation to pursue careers in science and expanded their view of what scientists do and how they can contribute. 

In an evaluation form at the end of the day, one student said the career day “helped me figure out what I want to do in the future and work at NIH.” Inspiring future scientists and NIH employees is always a good day’s work at NIGMS.—Ashley Swanson  

The NIH Record

The NIH Record, founded in 1949, is the biweekly newsletter for employees of the National Institutes of Health.

Published 25 times each year, it comes out on payday Fridays.

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Staff Writer: Amber Snyder (link sends e-mail)