"When I was a graduate student at Stanford, my colleagues joked that I spent more time teaching young students about science than I did conducting my own experiments in the lab. I had opportunities to teach genetics at local science museums, to lead chemistry lessons at a children’s hospital, and to use biology to spark excitement and self-confidence in middle school girls. These science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) outreach activities were as valuable for me as they were for my students, providing opportunities to serve as a scientific role model, to rekindle my love of science, and to help break down barriers to science education.
Now, serving as an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Fellow in the Department’s Bureau of African Affairs, I am working to help inspire budding scientists and engineers in Africa. Through the Apps4Africa program, we challenge young African innovators and entrepreneurs to develop technology-based solutions to local problems. And I’ll be traveling to South Africa and Ghana this month to do hands-on experiments with students at local science centers, science festivals, and American Spaces. Together, we’ll explore climate change and DNA, the importance of science in our daily lives, and the incredible range of STEM career opportunities.
Scientific literacy and international scientific collaboration are critical in addressing so many of the global challenges we face today, including food security, economic competitiveness, and global health. By empowering young women and men through STEM education, we can ensure that the next generation of scientists and innovators is ready to tackle those challenges."