The Nelson Laboratories’ Women in STEM Education (WISE) committee recently participated in the San Juan County Sixth Annual Career Fair hosted by Junior Achievement of Utah. Tina May, Dani Silva, Jessi Beck, and Dayna Clarke are part of the WISE committee which is comprised of 17 women scientists and leaders at Nelson Laboratories who are committed to bringing the passion for STEM careers to youths of all ages.
Nelson Labs was one of over 30 vendors that visited Whitehorse and Monument Valley High Schools to teach children from grades 7-12 about career opportunities that are available for them after graduation.
“We love to participate in events like this and share our enthusiasm for science careers with students who wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to learn about these options,” said Tina May, co-chair of the WISE committee and senior director of laboratory operations at Nelson Laboratories.
There was a lot of traffic and interest at the Nelson Laboratories’ booth. The hands-on activities demonstrated to the kids that science can be cool, and they were able to take part in some of the testing protocols that are used in the laboratory. For instance, teaching the kids about aseptic technique for putting on surgical gloves was a big hit. Once they put on the gloves and held their hands under a special light, they were able to see how effectively they followed the procedure for gloving up. This also taught them why the technique is important for sterile environments.
“This experience was amazing as we got the chance to get to know many bright, young people who were genuinely excited to learn about our company and to have fun,” said Dayna Clarke, radiation study director at Nelson Laboratories. “We were also awestruck by the natural beauty of the formations of the Bluff and Monument Valley landscapes.”
Inspiring the next generation of scientists is an important mission, and the WISE committee is comprised of dedicated individuals who volunteer their time and talents to spread the word about STEM education and careers.
March is Women’s History Month and a great opportunity to spotlight the Women in STEM Education (WISE) committee at Nelson Laboratories, Inc. The WISE committee is comprised of 17 women scientists and leaders at the company who are passionate about promoting STEM careers and education for young women and girls.
Nelson Laboratories, Inc. is unique because the company has a 50/50 ratio of women and men scientists. The WISE committee is working to inspire more young women to pursue careers in the sciences and close the gender gap existing throughout the industry. According to the members of the committee, young women and girls need to have exposure to life science careers and to learn that life science careers are a real option for them.
“How wonderful it is to live in a time when women are encouraged and promoted to explore the sciences, said Tina May, co-chair of the WISE committee. “Finding my niche in the field of Analytical Chemistry, I have been able to rise through the ranks of lab analyst to director of laboratory operations. I feel fortunate to work for a company such as Nelson Laboratories, Inc. that truly encourages women in science.”
Throughout the year, members volunteer their time and talents to travel to schools and other venues to spread the word about STEM careers to the students of all ages. In April the committee will be inspiring third graders at Hawthorne Elementary with hands-on science experiments, and some members will be teaching a science and math lesson to 16 girls who have signed up for Girls on the Run.
Officials with the Utah Department of Workforce Services on Wednesday, May 7 announced the creation of a $6 million STEMLink grant program to be awarded to schools for in-school and after-school STEM classes.
The grants are funded by the Department of Workforce Services through a combination of job growth and Temporary Aid to Needy Families, or TANF, funds. The grants will focus on underserved populations with the goal of equipping individuals with employable skills and lifting families out of a cycle of poverty.
There is a growing need for workers with science and technology skills, and school-based experiences will help students consider STEM careers. Jeffrey Nelson, president of Nelson Laboratories and chairman of the STEM Action Center board, said many students don’t consider a career in science or engineering until they’re able to see the practical application of that knowledge. “Kids, a lot of times these days, underestimate what they’re capable of,” Nelson said. “I really believe that anybody can be successful.”
STEMLink grants will help more students get involved with science, technology, engineering and math, Nelson said, and eventually qualify them for careers in the burgeoning technology sector.
“If you can take what is a great strength of our state, this strong student population, and if we can help just some of them get into these types of fields, I think it helps the kids, I think it helps the economy, and I think it helps the companies,” Nelson said.
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