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4 WinSPIRE student mentors highlighted. Get involved in this STEM pipeline.


WinS  

Women in Science (WinS) is a student-led organization that aims to address gender disparities in STEM. As an on-campus group, WinS offers a platform to directly reach scientists in training at UNC Chapel Hill to facilitate their professional development and provide a community of support. 

WinSPIRE  

Women in Science Promoting Inclusion in Research Experiences (WinSPIRE) is a paid six-week high school summer WinSPIRE logo 2021research program designed to increase representation of women and historically underrepresented groups in STEM. 

WinSPIRE selects promising woman-identifying and non-binary high schoolers from backgrounds underrepresented in STEM and pairs them with a woman-identifying or non-binary mentor to work on a research project related to the lab’s research at the University of North Carolina. The students also participate in career development and college-prep workshops led by women-identifying and non-binary college-prep mentors. 

4 students volunteered as WinSPIRE mentors 

WinSPIRE’s 2021 program was a virtual half-day program to provide increased flexibility during the pandemic. This year, 11 high school students worked one-on-one with their research mentors to understand experimental design, data analysis and presentation, reading primary scientific literature, and producing webpages about their research. Students met with college prep mentors to learn more about careers they can pursue in science and the skills they will need to apply to and succeed in college.

Sierra Cole 2021
Sierra Cole, BCBP graduate student in Gladfelter Lab.

Sierra Cole (BCBP graduate student, Gladfelter Lab) co-led a career panel of women in STEM during the final week of the program. During the panel, students were able to ask women across a variety of different STEM fields to get a better understanding of different career paths available to them.  

WinSPIRE two graduate Odessa Goudy and students in the lab desk
Odessa Goudy and Zhiyuan Yao practicing the pineapple experiment for the “Molecular Machines” HonE a few weeks before sending out the supplies to the students.

 

A new addition to the virtual 2021 WinSPIRE program was the 3-week Hands on Experience (HonE). Groups of students were sent supplies to run their own experiments while at home. Odessa Goudy (BCBP graduate student, Kuhlman Lab), Aubrie Weyhmiller (BCBP graduate student, Kuhlman Lab), and Zhiyuan Yao (Pharmacology graduate student, Kuhlman Lab) co-led the “Molecular Machines” HonE. Odessa, Aubrie, and Zhiyuan created a new HonE by preparing three lesson plans and organizing the take-home-kit items.

 

Aubrie Weyhmiller
Aubrie Weyhmiller, BCBP graduate student in Kuhlman lab

The “Molecular Machines” HonE explored an enzyme found in pineapples as a model system to explore protein activity and structure. The group of high school students made hypotheses about how different conditions such as temperature, pH, and source of enzyme affect enzyme activity. The students then experimentally determined the change in enzyme activity by measuring the rate at which the pineapple enzyme broke down gelatin.  

 

Get involved! 

Rose Glass
Rose Glass, Neuroscience graduate student.

WinSPIRE will be recruiting for our 2022 program soon. You can participate by joining the organization team (applications in September), as a research or college prep mentor (applications in December), or as a lab tour host (applications in March). Please contact Rose Glass (roseg@email.unc.edu) for more information or check the WinSPIRE website for updates.  

Officially housed in the Office of Graduate Education, WinSPIRE is entirely run by women-identifying and non-binary graduate students, post-docs, and faculty. WinSPIRE started in 2017 in the Chemistry department and has since grown to incorporate mentors and team members across the STEM fields including but not limited to Mathematics, Geology, and Biochemistry & Biophysics. All 37 WinSPIRE alumni reported more interest and belonging in STEM after the program! 

Resources

UNC WinS website, UNC Women in Science Facebook page, and WinSPIRE website 

Search for more organizations on the website for Training Initiatives in Biomedical & Biological Sciences (TIBBS) Career Cohorts.

UNC “Find your place at Carolina” news feature.

You can check out all the student organizations at UNC on Heel Life. 

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There are UNC’s 800+ student organizations. You won’t have to look too far to find a student group that matches your interests.