Conference connects scientists to public

This year, the Graduate Women in Science conference will bring national scientists to the Raleigh public.

Sponsored in part by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the three-day event will draw female scientists from across the United States to NC State’s Biomanufacturing Training and Education Center on June 23-25.

New this year: special public presentations at the Nature Research Center of the Museum of Natural Sciences in downtown Raleigh on Saturday afternoon. Planned specifically for children and their families, it’s an opportunity for one-on-one interaction with the experts.

This opportunity is also “huge” for the scientists, said Dr. Sarah Council, president of the Rho Tau chapter of GWIS (pronounced “gee-whiz”).

“As a scientist, you ultimately answer to the public,” said Council, who is a CALS alumnus. “And that’s why these interactions are important – we’re demonstrating the benefits of what scientists do.”

One researcher is bringing a mechanical centrifuge to demonstrate centrifugal force. Another will bring microscopes to bring the miniscule world of cells up close.

“Sometimes the public doesn’t really know what scientists do,” Council said. “We’re breaking down that barrier so they can see: you’re just like us, we just have a really cool fascination with the processes that make life work — and you can do this too.”

This is in keeping with the mission of GWIS, a national interdisciplinary society that encourages women to enter and achieve success in science and scientific careers. At the main conference event, participants will present research and network with science and technology colleagues from across the nation.

Registration for both members and non-members is available on the GWIS website.

— C. Kellner