Projects of 2017

Below are descriptions of the various projects associated with the Latham Science Engagement Initiative. Latham fellows create, plan, and implement self-directed STEM outreach projects.

S.T.E.A.M. Career Nights

Jorge Moreno

As part of the Latham Science Engagement Initiative, Jorge partnered with the Multi-Ethnic Engineering and Science Association (MESA) tutoring service in the College of Engineering. Twenty local underrepresented youth and their parents had the opportunity to interact with science professionals. The kids went through demonstrations of sorts by various panelist members, including science writer, Richard Lewis, outreach and education researcher, Emily Schoerning, and professor, Bryant McAllister, from University of Iowa. The students had the opportunity during a Q&A session to ask about the career paths and jobs of their demonstrators. The parents meanwhile received free English enhancement classes, where bilingual tutors will work on increasing their language skills. The children were provided free dinner courtesy of the College of Engineering and at the end of the two-night program, gifts were given thanks to donations from UICCU and Blick arts. From this event, Jorge hoped to encourage students from a broad spectrum of interest, to see that science isn’t for the elite, or for people of certain groups. It is full of niches and when you find your own, you can make a career out of it.

Stem-O-Sphere: Creating an Immersive Blogging Experience

Steven Huang

Blogs are an inexpensive way to convey an individual’s thoughts and experiences to the public. However, with the traditional blog, most of the experiences are presented in written form. Some experiences can have bigger impacts, if it can be seen rather than read. The aim of Steven’s project was to create a more in-depth and detailed blogging experience for the viewer through the use of video blogs, also known as vlogs. Additionally, Steven created a virtual-reality video that simulates the laboratory experience. Through the use of virtual-reality videos, an experience can be captured in great detail and thus creating an immersive blogging experience for the viewer. Check out the Vlog tab at the top of the page to view Steven’s work.

Building a supportive community amongst young aspiring researchers: Trial and Error Student Science Blog

Aparna Ajjarapu

The trial and error process is a cornerstone of research in any field and the collection of narratives on the blog that Aparna designed were designed to appeal to budding researchers and scientists and let them know that they are not alone in their research struggles. The goal of the “Trial and Error” blog was to create a supportive community amongst young researchers and scientists and host a safe place to reflect on failure in research and how to overcome obstacles during project implementation. The trial and error research narratives documented on Aparna’s blog hope to encourage and enlighten other young researchers and scientists to keep persisting through their research projects and dream towards pursuing careers in STEM.

View Aparna’s Trial & Error Blog Here

Humanizing the benefits of research funding

Lance Heady

Science research is often not accessible to the general public including politicians who fund grant giving federal organizations like the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. As part of the Latham Science Engagement Initiative, Lance provided specific examples that highlight how the continued push for defunding science will have devastating consequences at the University of Iowa and on our society. Lance’s project showcases the work that is being done by federally-funded scientists at the University of Iowa across disciplines and demonstrates the impact that research conducted at the University of Iowa should continue being supported.

Nontraditional Science Lessons and Knowledge Retention of Children

Alyson Glynn

As part of the Latham Science Engagement Initiative, Alyson set out to teach children in grades 3-5 about the scientific method through nontraditional methods and have them retain that knowledge long-term. She partnered with the Flickinger Learning Center, based in Muscatine, Iowa, over a period of several months working with children who were recognized as needing additional help outside of the traditional classroom setting. She ran experiments, interactive worksheets, games and activities designed to meet the needs of their different learning styles. They were exposed to the scientific method repeatedly and showed marked improvement from their baseline surveys. She also helped prepare the children for the local Science Fair. She will be able to use collected data when working with the Muscatine Community School District’s School Improvement Advisory Committee who is also partnering with University of Iowa.

Children’s Book for Young Diabetics

Kelsey Willardson

As part of the Latham Science Engagement Initiative, Kelsey has written a children’s book for type one diabetics between the ages of three and six. This age group has seen the largest increase in diagnoses and there is little to no educational material directed toward them. Her book will be distributed at a pediatric endocrinologist’s office to children fitting the age range. This book is meant to help them understand their disease, identify the tools they need to manage it, and help them connect with a protagonist with whom they can relate.

STEM Magazine

Timothy Fuqua

Timothy Fuqua is a senior at the University of Iowa currently studying Biology. As a part of the Latham Science Engagement Initiative, Timothy is creating a magazine to students at a STEM day event, where close to 80 high school students learned about different career opportunities in science through guest speakers, laboratory tours, and hands-on science experiments. The magazine Timothy is designing is filled with information about the different fields of STEM and includes interviews about undergraduate students involved with research on campus. Timothy hopes to distribute the magazine to different events and local groups on campus to increase the impact factor for all outreach programs associated with LSEI.

The Daily Iowan’s Science Correspondent

Elise Kerns

Elise Kerns is the Daily Iowan’s new science correspondent. For the general Iowa City audience, she is writing about national science and local research in a localized way. Through her projct, Elise hopes to communicate science to a wide audience, while simultaneously highlighting the amazing scientific work and research being done on campus.

Read Elise’s articles for the daily iowan

Virtual reality aids in alzheimer’s researchUniversity of Iowa takes aim at black holes

Tu Dosis De Ciencia

Maria Nunez Hernandez

Maria created a blog in Spanish where information about scientific research is posted. There is a lack of resources in Spanish about scientific research and what scientists do. This project tries to provide a source of information to address these points in a manner that is easy to understand. The posts will range from providing information about how research is conducted to providing short summaries of primary literature papers that talk about science that affects people’s everyday lives.
Maria is a biochemistry major and is currently working in Dr. Madeline Shea’s lab in the biochemistry department. Her research project deals with an enzyme, Calcineurin, that is important in muscle development, heart development and in activating the immune system. Calcineurin is also a target of immunosuppressant drugs, which have various negative side effects. Her research seeks to elucidate the mechanism of activation of Calcineurin so that better immunosuppressant’s may be developed in the future.

Read the blog here

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The Art of Science

Evan Lamb

Evan’s Latham project centers around the truly beautiful nature of scientific research. He set out to curate a collection of images from a number of departments on campus. The images are vibrant and depict the importance of research being conducted on campus. These images were printed onto large posters and displayed throughout the community. They have found homes in a number of libraries, hospitals and departmental buildings. Additionally, he has founded and operated social media site which emphasize these images and their eye-catching nature. The images were annotated in terms which made the importance of the picture and its relevancy accessible to all people.
Evan is a sophomore and Microbiology major at the University of Iowa with a certificate in Clinical and Translational Sciences. Evan conducts research with Dr. Linda McCarter exploring bacterial communication and motility as well as Dr. Diane Slusarski to investigate human genetic disorders in the zebrafish model system.

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Follow @ScienceatIowa on TwitterCheck out Iowascience on Instagram

Precision Health U

Mason LaMarche

Precision Health (@PHealthU) is a Twitter account focused on raising awareness about the field of personalized genomic medicine. This cutting edge style of healthcare is on the horizon, and a well informed public is important to the successful implementation of this potent change in medicine. Through paper commentary, networking with professionals in the field, and fun activities, Precision Health seeks to take a complex area of science and make it more approachable in bite sized tweets.
In addition to a social media presence, mason is working to expand public genomic literacy with the Personal Genome Learning Center in the broader Iowa City community. His partnership with the Iowa City Public Library has led to the creation of a monthly discussion group that seeks to bring together all those who are interested in learning more about what their DNA means for them. The preferred model for this discussion involves using results from commercial direct-to-consumer testing companies such as 23andMe and AncestryDNA. Participants often times have had these tests done, and the discussion group focuses on taking those standard results and interpreting them in the broader fields of genealogy and trait prediction. Part of his personal interest in this group has been in promoting the same ideals of Precision Health which involves explaining both the benefits, and more importantly, the limitations of genetics and health prediction.

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Follow @PHealthU on Twitter

Science FM

Nicholas McCarty

Science FM began as a small outreach project with a big goal – to create interesting science podcasts with a purpose. They hope to increase community awareness of ongoing research initiatives and present science in a manner that is conducive to learning. They strive to humanize research and display the ‘faces behind the projects’. In this way, they are working to create an interface for communication across disciplines in order to facilitate the spread of new ideas.

They are working on building sustainable, high-quality content for your enjoyment. Each and every podcast is crafted with a lot of love and hard work. They hope that you enjoy listening as much as they enjoy creating. Listen to the podcast at

Learn More

Follow ScienceFM on TwitterCheck out Sciencefm’s website