Inspiring Next Generation Researchers
5th Science Day at NIH Invokes Energy, Passion
Now in its fifth year, “Science Day at NIH” highlighted an unexpected and recurring theme for the day: passion. Nearly 500 students from 11 area schools recently attended the event at the Natcher Bldg., where they were engrossed in an assortment of science and health care activities and career options.
Co-sponsored by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, the National Library of Medicine, Friends of the NLM and Mentoring in Medicine, Science Day seeks to promote diversity in the biomedical workforce. The overarching goal is to inspire students to explore careers in health care and science. The young people—many of them African American or Latino—participated in hands-on activities and presentations about biomedical research career options from a diverse group of scientists and other NIH staff.
After an amusing pep rally, students were welcomed by NLM director Dr. Patty Brennan (via video), NLM Deputy Director Jerry Sheehan, NIMHD director Dr. Eliseo Pérez-Stable and NIH chief officer for scientific workforce diversity Dr. Hannah Valantine.
“You have to have passion for what you do…If you dislike what you’re doing, you will not do a good job,” said Pérez-Stable, delighting the audience with a colorful journey through his medical and scientific career.
Panelists Dr. Kelvin Choi of NIMHD, Dr. Nakela Cook of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, Dr. Jeff Day of NLM and Dr. Carla Easter of the National Human Genome Research Institute presented an overview of their respective NIH roles and how passion drove them. Easter also revealed her other passion: Zumba. She even entertained students with a dance move.
During the afternoon, students took in “Lunch with a Scientist,” where energetic staff of various careers—librarian, researcher, legislative liaison, information specialist, chemist, program officer, educator, digital asset developer, program director and psychologist—shared their roles at NIH.
Hosted by various institutes and centers, nearly 20 activity tables showed students such presentations as medical illustration, closing a wound, organ party, CPR, radiation safety, headache games and a Cool Spot carnival among other activities.
At the event’s conclusion, students were able to share what they learned and ask questions. Some expressed their desire to return next year and appreciated the staff for fueling their passion, preparing them to choose a career and providing an overall great day of learning at NIH.