Partnership with Teachers College Community School
During the 2021–2022 academic year, ChEF researchers partnered with Teachers College Community School (TCCS) in Harlem, which primarily serves underrepresented minority students. In each session, the researchers led middle schoolers through a variety of demonstrations, hands-on activities, and scholastic competitions. They also helped students prepare for the New York State Regents Examinations for admission into specialized high schools, working through past Mathematics Olympiad contests, competing in trivia quizzes, and playing various team-building games.
Each researcher also worked with a student on a science fair project. At the culmination of the program, students presented their projects in a poster session at Columbia to 40 faculty, staff, and researchers, toured the ChEF research labs, and participated in larger-scale demonstrations.
A huge success, this partnership provides a model of long-term outreach that we plan to continue.
Class for Undergraduate and Graduate Students
In spring 2022, senior ChEF investigators co-taught a course titled “Electric Fields Effects in Catalysis” to undergraduate and graduate students. Providing students with a real-time exposition of an emerging area of study, the course covered the basics of electrostatics and catalysis, methods to measure electric fields, reactions experimentally demonstrated to be catalyzed by an electric field, and some biological aspects of electric-field-driven chemistry.
Summer Research Experience for Undergraduates
Since 2021, we have supported six undergraduate students who have conducted summer research with our groups: Zainab Adula (Roy group, summer 2022), Miriam Aziz (Venkataraman group, summer 2021), Carliza Canela (Nuckolls group, summer 2021), Daniel Cheng (Venkataraman group, summer 2022), Sophia Guizzo (Nuckolls group, summer 2021), and Rasha Hussain (Rovis group, summer 2021).
We are delighted to share that Canela will be joining the PhD program in chemistry at Columbia in fall 2022.
To highlight and honor diversity within our field, we partnered with a NYC-based artist to design posters of prominent scientists from underrepresented backgrounds. These posters were displayed on the Columbia campus and in other public spaces.
TikTok Channel for Middle and High School Students
In the past year, our team has redefined our science outreach model by shifting from in-person outreach to the social media landscape. Our TikTok channel, @IvyLeagueScience, presents concise, entertaining video content that combines educational scientific demonstrations with viral trends to engage broad audiences, particularly middle and high school students. Since launch, our channel has garnered nearly 16 million views, 3.6 million likes, and over 150,000 followers.
Additionally, we have collaborated with organizations seeking our advice about conducting effective and widespread scientific outreach. Some of these partnerships include planning and executing a COVID-19 vaccine misinformation campaign with Pfizer, filming online outreach videos with Sony’s Impossible Science, and creating trivia videos for ACS’s National Chemistry Week.
We plan to build on our success by growing our student team and expanding our videos to include explanations of general scientific topics, as well as “inside peeks” at our lives as students, researchers, and PIs to inform the public about careers in science. We are also preparing manuscripts to describe this outreach model and presenting two talks and a poster at the ACS National Meeting in August 2022 to communicate our work to the scientific community.