Graduate students showcase their work for families at Discovery Museum


Five graduate students from the College of Biological Sciences will be offering hands-on presentations to the public this weekend at The Discovery Museum Science & Space Center in Sacramento.

Johnathon Anderson (Genetics), Shannamar Dewey (Neurology, Physiology and Behavior), Richard Myers (Physiology), Vu Trinh (Biochemistry and Molecular Biology) and Donnelly West (Genetics) will run activities demonstrating their own research at Meet a Scientist Weekend, December 8 and 9 from 12:30 to 4 p.m.

According to the center, this will be a family day offering fun hands-on experiences to connect visitors with current science research in the Sacramento area.

For example, Richard Myers specializes in cardiovascular medicine. He has designed an activity where visitors can help unclog an “artery” (a hamster tube with a little clay) using a catheter and balloon. The project mimics balloon angioplasty, which is a procedure performed quite regularly at the UC Davis Medical Center.

“This will be a fun chance to engage with the public,” Myers says. “It’s an opportunity to show the public what we do as grad student researchers and hopefully will get kids excited about science.”

At the event, the public will be free to roam and visit each station at will. Children 12 and under will receive a souvenir pin after completing a “science passport.”

The five fellows from CBS join six other UC Davis graduate students as the museum’s 2012 Science Communication Fellows. Half of the fellows will present on the first day, half on the second.

The Science Communication Fellows program is part of the Portal to the Public National Network, which works with a dozen science centers around the country.

The program trains scientists, engineers, graduate students, researchers and other science-based professionals to become science ambassadors and excellent communicators. Its aim is to educate and inspire people of all ages about the wonders, possibilities and responsibilities of their fields.

Training focuses on how to break down highly technical concepts and explain them using every day analogies and vocabulary. The group also brainstorms ideas for presenting their work in fun, approachable “play” ways, including stories, games and other activities.

Each fellow is challenged to develop unique, entertaining, hands-on ways to share and explain their particular scientific research with the public. The program culminates in this weekend’s Meet a Scientist day.

About the Discovery Museum

The Discovery Museum Science & Space Center is a 61-year old non-profit organization dedicated located at 3615 Auburn Boulevard, Sacramento 95821. The Museum is currently conducting a capital campaign for a new facility, and will become the Powerhouse Science Center.