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NexGeneGirls Spring Bootcamp: Building Science Competency for Underrepresented Females
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NexGeneGirls Spring Bootcamp: Building Science Competency for Underrepresented Females

CLSI partner NexGeneGirls began its 2018 Spring Bootcamp this month, providing ten young females of color from low-income communities the opportunity to gain hands-on science training while building leadership skills and self-confidence.

Over two Saturdays in April, the ten NexGeneGirls participated in science laboratories taught by students in City College of San Francisco’s Stem Cell program, where they learned basic lab skills and pGLO transformation, and picked up specific techniques such as lab measurements (graduated cylinder, analytical balance, micro pipets, serological pipets), bacterial transformation, plating cells, mini-prep plasmid DNA, gel electrophoresis, and centrifugation.  NexGeneGirls participant Eyuchie Okorie had this to say about the Bootcamp: “In high school, you learn basic biology and chemistry…. But when I was actually working in the lab, I feel like I gained a lot of skills… [and] learned what an organelle was and the endoplasmic reticulum and all the different processes that happen within the cell.” The Bay Area Bioscience Education Community (BABEC) provided reagents and protocol for the for the bacterial transformation lab.

This summer, the girls will intern three days per week in labs at UCSF, The Gladstone Institutes, and San Francisco State University. On the other two days, they are providing-after school science workshops for middle school students at the Boys & Girls Club of San Francisco, and participating in enrichment seminars and field trips with professional women from industry.

The program will culminate with an Awards Celebration this summer during which the NexGeneGirls will present scientific posters on their internship research projects.

NexGene Girls Founder, Marlena Jackson, Diversity Talent Partner at Genentech, is in the process of securing substantive labs for the NexGeneGirls, including one internship in the lab of Noble Laureate Shinya Yamanaka under the Mentorship of Dr. Songnan Wang, where the intern will contribute to the project comparing the functions of a family of eukaryotic translation initiation factor. Specifically, the student will use cutting-edge genome editing technology CRISPR-Cas9 to generate inducible knockdown human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs). The knockdown cell line will be a powerful tool to help investigate the question of how these three closely related proteins coordinate with each other to perform different or similar roles in protein translation, stem cell maintenance and cell fate commitment.

In another internship at UCSF, a NexGeneGirl participant will apply statistical and computational methods to analyze the contribution of these variants to Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Developmental Delays (DD), the association with vitamin D in the combined dataset and the interaction between ASD and the identified genetic variants.

Ms. Jackson is seeking donations to support the $2500 internships this summer.  If interested, please contact Marlena at marlenajackson@sbcglobal.net.

The NexGeneGirls Spring Bootcamp and Summer Academy is supported by: Cloud 9, Gladstone Institutes, San Francisco State University, SPARK SF, UCSF, Unite SF, and the University of San Francisco.

About NexGeneGirls

NexGeneGirls was founded in 2011 to empower girls from under-represented communities to deeply engage with science and technology, inspiring them to pursue STEM- (science, technology, engineering and math) related careers. By tapping women leaders, students and industry professionals to mentor and inspire NexGeneGirl participants, we reaffirm our vision to increase diversity in STEM fields. In doing so, we support participants’ dreams of breaking the cycle of underrepresentation and changing perceptions to create a culture of opportunity for young girls of color.

NexGeneGirls (from left) Samaa Rasheed, Da’Sani Tillery, and Eyuche Okorie (far right) learn how to measure liquids accurately with graduated cylinders under direction of CCSF Stem Cell Ambassador Seema Niddapu (second from right)