Monday, December 30, 2013

STEM Girls Become FUN Gals at Cedar Crest College

I'm now a Huffington Post Blogger. Check out a recent blog post, "STEM Girls Become FUN Gals at Cedar Crest College."

Highlights include:

Only a few years ago, Jessica Hile, Jenette Stadnik, Natalie Akers and Julia Kelly were STEM girls; now in college they continue to explore their interests. Jessica is in her junior year and is majoring in biodiversity and conservation biology. She's interested in becoming a veterinarian and owning a veterinary business and wildlife rehabilitation center. Jenette is a senior and biology major; her career plans include going for an advanced degree, and she is considering dental school. Natalie, like Jenette, also is a senior and biology major. Her career goal is to become an emergency room physician. Julia, a genetic-engineering major interested in infectious disease research career, is a junior.

Meeting up at Cedar Crest College, these young women joined Dr. Amy Reese's "FUN Gals" research group: a lab where disease-causing fungi are studied. Being part the research group gives Jessica, Jenette, Natalie and Julia an opportunity to conduct valuable research as undergraduates. The good news is that even first-year Cedar Crest College students are guaranteed student-research experience.

Dr. Reese's research involves studying disease-causing, yeast-like encapsulated fungi. She takes her research very seriously, but she also is known for making science fun. Professor Reese incorporates "interpretive dance" into her lectures to reinforce specific scientific concepts -- an effective teaching technique that engages and entertains. Even her license plate, FUNG4L, while a bit zany, is spot-on: Her all-women lab studies fungi while having fun.

In addition to her roles of researcher and associate professor, Dr. Reese also serves as a Health Professions Advisor, advising students who are interested in attending medical, veterinary, dental and other health professional schools (other than nursing). She is committed to providing an atmosphere of encouragement and support to STEM women.

This nurturing environment is what makes women's colleges so successful: colleges for women offer excellent academics while encouraging personal growth. This is t
he main reason I consider women's colleges to be the best-kept secret in higher education today.

Continue reading my blog post on The Huffington Post. Enjoy!

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