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Biosciences Outreach Club receives 'Outstanding Chapter' award

Colorado College’s Biosciences Outreach Club has received a Regional Outstanding Chapter award from the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) Undergraduate Affiliated Network. The award is in recognition of the group’s “leadership in educational activities, exceptional commitment to increasing public awareness about biochemistry and molecular biology, and sustained chapter activities.”

The CC Biosciences Outreach Club focuses its efforts on providing outlets for scientific discussion and volunteer outreach, said Eric Wigton ’12, president of club. 

The group discusses a current literature paper each block, focusing on bioscience articles relating to molecular biology, neuroscience, biochemistry, or microbiology. The paper is introduced by a member at the first meeting and discussed at the second meeting of the block. The club held its second mini-symposium for the Colorado College campus last fall, in which participants presented research to fellow students, with 16 presenters and approximately 40 students in attendance.  The idea of the symposium is to expose students to research opportunities at CC and other institutions, Wigton said.

Wigton has been the president of the biosciences club for the last two years.  Under his leadership, the outreach program and the number of students involved in the biosciences club has grown significantly, said Chemistry and Biochemistry Professor Neena Grover, the club’s faculty adviser.   

Members also conduct a volunteer outreach club every other week at a local elementary school for 30-35 fourth- and fifth-graders. Lab activities range from kiwi and spinach DNA extraction and red cabbage litmus tests to germ labs with handprint plates, dissection labs, and other experiments that introduce scientific process. “This outreach has been very beneficial to all those who have participated, and it has provided young students with fun scientific experiences that we hope will shape their futures in a positive way.  Our outlook is framed by the idea that recurring exposure to biological sciences will have a greater affect on those exposed than a onetime event,” Wigton said.

Other members of the club are Maxwell Brown, Evgenia Shiskova, Arian Frost, Jordan DeGayner, Priyam Mahajan, James Park, Michael Goforth, Nick Palombo, Alex Song, Michael Davenport, Siphelele Mhlanga, Claire Mann, Samuel McCune, Nicole Fazio, William Lindsay, Merritt Logan, Paul Todd, Linda Jimenez, Amie Owen, Joel Begay, Elizabeth Mays, Faith D’Amico, and Kevin Wylie. Members come from a variety of disciplines, including biology, biochemistry, physics, neuroscience, and mathematics.  In addition to serving as the club’s faculty adviser, Grover participates extensively in ASBMB by mentoring collegiate research projects with CC students and local high school students and K-12 teachers.

The CC Biosciences Outreach Club has previously won the ASBMB Undergraduate Affiliated Network Outstanding Regional Chapter Award (’08-’09 and ’11-’12) and the Excellence in Science Education and Community Outreach Award (’09-’10 and ’10-’11).