Lucinda has focused her outreach on mentoring high school students and volunteering with STEM education programs for students of all ages both on campus and around Nashville. She has dedicated time to mentoring a high school student through SSMV and teaching elementary, middle, and high school students about science through Mega Microbe Day, VSVS, and the VINSE STEM education and outreach program respectively.
Working with Neeraj Namburu
From January to November 2019, Neeraj Namburu worked in the Wilson Lab through the School for Science and Math at Vanderbilt (SSMV), including 8 weeks of full-time work in the summer. Throughout this time, Lucinda worked with Neeraj to teach him mammalian cell culture, bioluminescence assays, nanoparticle assembly, and particle characterization. His research project focused on comparing the use of PLGA nanoparticles, liposomes, and polymersomes to deliver H-151, a covalent STING inhibitor, to mouse macrophages in vitro to block a type-I interferon inflammatory response. Lucinda has found mentoring Neeraj to be extremely rewarding, and it has been exciting to see him go from timid and inexperienced to confident, capable, and excited about majoring in a STEM-related discipline in college. She plans to continue working with SSMV students throughout her graduate career.
Check out Neeraj's research poster here!
Vanderbilt Student Volunteers for Science
Since January 2019, Lucinda has volunteered with Vanderbilt Student Volunteers for Science (VSVS), where she teaches four hands-on science lessons per semester in a 5th-8th grade public school classroom in Nashville to help build interest in science and college in general. For the past two semesters, she and her teams have worked with 7th grade classrooms at West End Middle School and East Nashville Magnet Middle School to teach lessons including building batteries, investigating vacuums and air pressure, and chromatography.
VINSE STEM Education and Outreach Program
Lucinda has also become a field trip leader for the Vanderbilt Institute of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (VINSE) STEM education and outreach program. Over the next four years, she will lead high school students from rural and metro schools around middle Tennessee in making and testing nanostructured solar cells using blackberry juice. During the field trip, students are given the opportunity to learn about different kinds of renewable energy, construct snap circuits, construct and test dye-sensitized Gratzel solar cells using pigments extracted from blackberries, and observe the minute surface features of the Titanium nanoparticles on one electrodes used in the solar cell with scanning electron microscopy. Additionally, students tour the Vanderbilt clean room. To date, over 2,600 high school students from 56 rural high schools have participated in this program.
Mega Microbe Day
For the past two years, Lucinda has also volunteered at Mega Microbe Day, an annual free event for kindergarten and elementary school students, where she help provide a fun, kid-friendly introduction to the world of microbes and the immune system. In the past, she has worked at the VSVS booth to use shrinky dinks to teach students about the crucial role of microbes in a stream ecosystem, and how pollution can negatively affect those microbes. She plans to organize a booth hosted by the Wilson lab to teach students about viruses and vaccinations using fun and accessible games for next year's Mega Microbe day.