Inaugural EiSci Conference Encourages Bronx Teens to Aim High

How does music influence a teenager's mood? What factors affect an individual's running speed? How likely is a person with a family history of diabetes to engage in risky behaviors? What do different populations know about cancer? These questions were the focus of a lunchtime poster session held in the Glass Café on May 7, showcasing research projects by 20 students from nearby Pelham Lab High School who have been taking part in the Einstein Science (EiSci) High School Mentoring Program. The event was part of the first-ever "EiSci Medicine and Research Pre-Professional Conference."

The conference was organized by first-year Einstein students, who established EiSci last fall as a means for reaching out to teens in the Bronx and sharing the wonders of science with them. The conference audience members consisted of classmates and teachers of the teen-aged scientists, as well as students and faculty at Einstein.

During the morning session, the high schoolers attended hands-on workshops in the Belfer building, where they learned how to take vital signs, suture a wound, apply a soft cast, build a microscope from everyday items, dissect a cow eye and deliver a baby. They also got to observe a human heart pumping and to explore how the lungs work by looking at various sea creatures.

Workshop leaders included Einstein faculty members, along with medical and graduate students, and healthcare professionals from Jacobi Medical Center, Montefiore Medical Center and CCNY's Sophie Davis School of Bio-Medical Education.

Following lunch, the group met in Robbins Auditorium for a panel discussion with speakers representing various fields within science and healthcare. The five panelists shared their personal stories, providing insights into why and how they entered their respective fields, the rewards and challenges they've encountered, who they've been inspired by, how they've coped with rejection, what their typical work day is like and more. EiSci board member Jessica Faiz served as moderator.

The panel members encouraged the students to "aim high," "persevere," "stay open to new people and experiences," "surround yourself with others who want to achieve," and to "stay focused even though life can throw you unexpected things." 

The day culminated with an inspiring keynote by 2008 Einstein alumnus Dr. Noé Romo. Dr. Romo completed his pediatric medicine residency at Jacobi Medical Center in 2011. He is now in his final year as a primary-care fellow doing research in community health at Columbia University Medical Center's department of child & adolescent health, where he also is completing a master's in epidemiology.

He noted that his research, involving community-based violence prevention strategies in inner-city neighborhoods, stems from personal experience. The child of Mexican immigrants, he grew up in East Los Angeles, a neighborhood rife with gang violence, and spent summers herding cattle on his grandfather's farm in rural Mexico. He excelled at both academics and cross-country running.

Paraphrasing his grandfather's words of wisdom, he told the students, "You're all sitting on good soil. The rain will come if you ask for it. The sun will shine if you look for it. And if you work hard, your future will bring a fruitful harvest."

The panel discussion members included (from left): Tynisha Thomas, a Ph.D. student at Einstein; Jorge Aguilar, an Einstein M.D.-Ph.D. candidate; Karen Yancopoulos, a nursing student from Pace University; Vanessa Lebron, a dental student at New York University; and Dr. Hannah Jarvis, a pathology resident at Montefiore.
The panel discussion members included (from left): Tynisha Thomas, a Ph.D. student at Einstein; Jorge Aguilar, an Einstein M.D.-Ph.D. candidate; Karen Yancopoulos, a nursing student from Pace University; Vanessa Lebron, a dental student at New York University; and Dr. Hannah Jarvis, a pathology resident at Montefiore.
Students tried their hand at taking each other’s blood pressure
Students tried their hand at taking each other’s blood pressure
Four students proudly display their research poster
Four students proudly display their research poster
 

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