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NexGeneGirl founder Marlena Jackson and the 2018 NexGeneGirl participants

In spite of the fact that STEM careers are – and are projected to be – the fastest growing employment sector through 2020, a mere 3% of STEM positions are currently held by females of color. To counter this alarming trend, CLSI is partnering with NexGeneGirls to bring rigorous hands-on science training and internships to young females of color in San Francisco.
The 2019 NexGeneGirls Program

The NexGeneGirls Program consists of a Spring Bootcamp and Summer Science Academy.



Taught by Community College of San Francisco (CCSF) STEM Cell students and San Francisco State University (SFSU) graduate students over two Saturdays in Spring, NexGeneGirl participants learn basic laboratory techniques that will be applied to research projects in the summer, such as pipetting, general biosafety, DNA extraction, cloning and plasmid maps, western blot, cell culture techniques Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), Ligation, and Transformation techniques.


From June through late July, NexGeneGirls participate in a full-time program, which includes:

Paid Internships in Bay Area labs: 8- week, 20-25 hours per week internships focusing on collaborative scientific research projects where participants hone their hands-on scientific technique under the direction of an academic scientist

Enrichment program focusing on college, career readiness and leadership development: includes sharing lab notebooks, presenting findings and talking through hypotheses, scientific methods, experimental design and results from internships; skill-building workshops on topics such as public speaking and presentations: learning about career pathways from female STEM professionals; field trips and networking with members of African Americans in Biotech (AAIB) at Genentech; putting together and preparing to present scientific posters from internships; mapping additional academic and career goals

Teaching summer science workshops for young boys and girls in San Francisco: One day per week, NexGeneGirl participants run an afternoon science program for approximately 14 middle school students, which includes setting up, delivering and taking down the labs.

Scientific Poster Presentation and Gala Celebration: Program will conclude with a gala event and poster presentation at UCSF Mission Bay in which participants present their posters to a VIP audience.

In addition to rigorous, hands-on training, work-based learning, and mentoring, the NexGeneGirl program incorporates “multi-generational teaching”, enabling program participants to learn through teaching, to gain greater proficiency and mastery of basic lab skills while training others.

Examples of 2018 NexGeneGirls Research Projects

  • Developing CRISPRi system to knockdown genes involved in oncogenesis of Ewing Sarcoma, UCSF
  • Generation of a fluorescent fusion protein to visualize filopodia to study WNT transportation, SFSU
  • Regulation of ECM proteins by miR-206 in early muscle development in Xenopus laevis, SFSU
  • The Effect of Dax-1on MCF-7 Breast Cancer Cell Gene Expression, USF
  • Dendritic Spine development in 16p11.1 CNV carrier-derived neurons, UCSF
  • Effects of eukaryotic initiation factor (eIF)4G protein families on hiPSC self-renewal and pluripotency, Gladstone Institutes
  • Maternal and Neonatal Genetic Regulation of Vitamin D as a risk factor for Autism and Developmental Delay, UCSF
  • Recreating K7Q mutation in Human iPSCs, Gladstone Institutes

Read an interview with NexGeneGirls graduate Tiffany Boykin here.


About NexGeneGirls

NexGeneGirl participant Eyuche Okorie at her internship in Noble Laureate Shinya Yamanaka’s lab at the Gladstone Institutes

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. NexGeneGirls delivers a unique program utilizing mentoring and enrichment in STEM learning, for young females of color, ages 8-17 from socio-economically distressed neighborhoods in San Francisco. 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.

About Marlena Jackson, Founder, NexGeneGirls

A native of the Bayview, Marlena Jackson is the founder of NexGeneGirls, a grassroots organization committed to empowering young girls of color by providing access to careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Aware of the asthma and breast cancer prevalent in her community, Ms. Jackson discovered City College of San Francisco’s Bridge to Bioscience program and is currently a scientist at Genentech, one of the world’s leading biotech organizations. She also is the Chair of African Americans in Biotech at Genentech where she is responsible for leading efforts to align its employee resource groups as strategic resource partners for the company and its employees. Marlena founded NexGeneGirls to develop science competency for young females of color from Bayview Hunter’s Point (BVHP) and other underserved communities, opening doors to rewarding and lucrative STEM careers. She has run the program on top of her full-time job for over five years.

In 2017, Marlena was honored by Mayor Edwin Lee as an established leader in STEM education in San Francisco and for making STEM opportunities more accessible for women and girls. She was also recognized for her outstanding leadership and service by the San Francisco-Peninsula Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

In 2016, Ms. Jackson was selected as a Change Maker at The White House United State of Women Summit in Washington, D.C. She was also a featured speaker at Mayor Ed Lee’s Bay Area Women’s Summit that same year. She has been honored by Senator Mark Leno, Mayor Edwin Lee, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, and the Commission on the Status of Women and Girls as one of the “Women Inspiring Innovation through Imagination: Celebrating Women in STEM.” A proud mother of two daughters, Marlena has also been honored by the Sun Reporter as one of the “The Talented 25” who are working to make the lives of others better.

More Information

For more information, contact Marlena Jackson:; (415) 420-8130