The CAVIAT bioscience students from Williams High School toured TGen North on April 6th. Teacher Michael Lee brought the class to the Translational Genomics Research Institute in Flagstaff to learn about the research projects being done there and to tour the state-of-the-art research facilities.
TGen North and CAVIAT are key partners in a 3-year grant awarded to the Center for Science Teaching and Learning at NAU from the National Science Foundation. This project will test a model of community engagement in an innovative problem-based high school bioscience course. Other partners are North Country Health Care, the Northern Arizona Area Health Education Center, the Coconino County Health Department, and the Winslow Indian Care Center. You can read more about the iCREATE Project and how YOU can be a part of this initiative here.
NAU Undergraduate Erik Lemkuhl (below) describes his work to the students. Erik began at TGen in the prestigious Helios Scholars internship program last summer, and was so successful that TGen North hired him as a paid intern. Erik primarily works on Tuberculosis. Congratulations to Erik as he begins his doctoral work at the University of Arizona next semester.
Below, Mike explains the flow cell from the Illumina MiSeq sequencers. The flow cell contains the DNA libraries (samples) that TGen North is interested in sequencing. He also showed them the small USB-like sequencer called the Oxford Nanopore MinION. The technological advances since the Human Genome Project (1990-2003) are staggering, and the costs per sequence, time needed for each sequence, and sizes of the sequencers have all decreased dramatically.
Several of the students in the class are applying summer experiences, including a Health Camp. If you are in a health or bioscience profession and would be willing to have a student shadow you at your job or do an internship, please contact the STEM Coordinator.
The first CAVIAT bioscience class to participate in the iCREATE project is from Williams High School. CAVIAT instructor and science educator Michael Lee (center photo) brought his students to NAU to tour three different laboratories on February 26th.
The students met in NAU's Wettaw building and toured the Imaging and Histology Core Facility (IHCF) with the Lab's Assistant Director Aubrey Funke (bottom left photo). Insects coated with gold (top center photo) are visualized with the Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) to see clear magnifications as small as 1/50th the width of a human hair! The students also saw the Transmission Electron Microscope (TEM) and were able to use the Keyence Digital Microscope (photos left center and bottom right).
Dr. Nathan Nieto (right side, second photo down) showed the students his lab and the equipment they use to study the ecology and evolution of infectious diseases in wild animals. They also study how this translates into transmission of disease to humans, domestic animals, and wildlife. They use a mixture of microbiology, molecular biology, phylogenetics and population ecology to investigate infectious disease dynamics in wild animal populations. Much of their work is conducted on reservoirs or the identification of reservoir hosts. You can learn more by linking to Dr. Nieto's lab page here.
Dr. Robert Kellar (upper right photo) runs the Tissue Engineering & Regenerative Medicine (TERM) Laboratory in the Center for Bioengineering Innovation at NAU. He is also the founder and president of Development Engineering Systems housed at the Northern Arizona Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology (NACET) in Flagstaff. (www.des-company.com). His undergraduate, Masters, PhD, and Post Doctoral team were all available to showcase different aspects of bioengineering science.
The three-hour tour was immensely engaging and educational. Thank you all!
The iCREATE partnerships include NAU, TGen North, Coconino County Health Department, North Country Health Care, Northern Arizona Healthcare, and more!
Note: iCREATE wants you! Read more about the project here and if you are interested in partnering to provide increased opportunities for our talented youth in any bioscience field, please contact the STEM Coordinator!
iCREATE is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation.
Guest Blog by Dave Engelthaler, Originally published for the Northern Arizona Leadership Alliance in the Flagstaff Business News - November 10, 2015
As hopefully most readers know, Flagstaff declared itself as America’s first STEM Community in 2012. STEM (the ubiquitous acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) is commonly discussed in our schools, in academia and in workforce development as a goal for literacy in the 21st Century. In Flagstaff, we have a wealth of STEM resources in our businesses (e.g., Gore & Assoc., SenesTech, Machine Solutions, Northern Az Healthcare, etc.) and research institutions (e.g., Lowell Observatory, TGen North, Museum of Northern Arizona, etc.), let alone NAU and Coconino Community College. In the fall of 2012, Flagstaff Forty, now known as the Northern Arizona Leadership Alliance, initiated a community conversation and ensured a community commitment to using these resources to support and improve our local schools’ ability to achieve STEM literacy for all students.
Over past several years, our STEM City has grown in stature and success. We are continually held as a model for community leadership and collective action on STEM. The reasons are numerous but some of the highlights include: having a community board dedicated to advancing all STEM in the community; having the annual celebration of the STEM Teacher, Leader and Student of the Year; the Superbowl of STEM Event held annually in NAU’s Skydome, which brings out nearly 10% of the city’s population; Flagstaff’s Festival of Science, the longest running one of its kind in the nation; and most importantly the abundant activities and interactions between students, teachers and local scientists and engineers, which end in unparalleled STEM learning opportunities and radical inspiration of hundreds to thousands of our students.
Now, we are moving to the next level of community engagement – coordinated community impact. Rather than just one-on-one interfaces with STEM businesses and classrooms, we have now moved to a model of having multiple businesses work with academia and multiple schools on a coordinated program to educate and enrich both the students and the community. Through the leadership at NAU’s Center for Science Teaching and Learning, the National Science Foundation has recently awarded a three-year $840K grant to build a yearlong Bioscience course for Flagstaff high schoolers. NAU has brought together TGen North, North Country Healthcare, the County Public Health department, Flagstaff Unified Schools District, the Coconino Association for Vocations Industry and Technology (CAVIAT) and the STEM City Center to build a real-world problem solving bioscience course for CAVIAT students, 44% of which are Native American. The vision for this program encompasses outlying county schools as well. Where else would high school students get to work closely with doctors, nurses, epidemiologists, and genomic scientists on development of a tool to detect and track influenza-like illness in their schools and neighborhoods? Where else but our STEM City. The Northern Arizona Leadership Alliance strongly encourages all community members to join the movement towards a stronger, more sustainable 21st Century economy but supporting STEM literacy.
Find more information here!