Skip to main content

To bring a taste of Chapel Hill and a glimpse into a health sciences profession to high school students across the state, the Division of Clinical Laboratory Science (CLS) hosted its inaugural “Lab Life on the Hill” live stream event on February 2, 2024.

The event, hosted by the division’s faculty and students and in partnership with UNC Health’s McLendon Laboratory, brought 16 high school classrooms – totaling 355 students – together for a 30-minute live webinar to introduce students to the possibility of laboratory science as a pathway to a health professions career.

The event began with an introduction from second-year CLS student Kalee Sorber, who shared her personal journey to discovering laboratory science after beginning her UNC career as a biology major. She encouraged high school students to explore their options if they are interested in a medical field that directly impacts patient care but foregoes the extra years of training in medical school.

Following Sorber’s introduction, viewers virtually entered the student laboratory in Macnider Hall, where CLS students spend much of their time learning and practicing during their two years in the program. Another CLS student, Janna Thigpen, performed a urinalysis demonstration and walked viewers through the process of how a laboratory scientist analyzes the test results and shares that information with the patient care team.

After the introduction to urinalysis, CLS student Colin MacDougal introduced a case study that involved performing a blood type test. MacDougal explained the purpose of blood typing, demonstrated the test and explained the results and their impact on patient care.

In the second half of the event, Cher Wilson, MT (ASCP), Manager of the Microbiology Lab at UNC Health, gave a tour of the microbiology lab. Wilson began by walking through the lab where she identified and explained various pieces of equipment and technology. She then introduced viewers to a malaria case, a bedbug, a tick and a worm, all of which had been discovered and diagnosed in the lab.

Participating teachers had the opportunity to ask questions in real-time on behalf of themselves and their students throughout the entirety of the event.

“Teacher and student response to Lab Life on the Hill has exceeded our expectations,” said Susan Taylor, Assistant Professor in the Division of Laboratory Science and orchestrator of the event. “Our goal was to e-meet students in their classrooms across the state or across the nation in an efficient, economical and reproducible way that gives high school students exclusive access to campus, to UNC Health and to our student presenters in real time. We look forward to producing another Lab Life on the Hill in the fall.”

The audience for Lab Life on the Hill covered about two-thirds of the state from Rutherford county in the west to Brunswick county in the east. In terms of tier coverage (by % of students), Tier 1 (25%), Tier 2 (25%) and Tier 3 (50%) counties participated in the event, as indicated by the pictured map.

Lab Life on the Hill was a pilot program funded by a mini-grant from the UNC School of Medicine Office of Diversity Equity and Inclusion.