Women in STEM Panel

Despite comprising half of the college-educated workforce in the United States, less than 30 percent of women make up the science workforce, with there being a particular dearth in the physical sciences and and engineering fields (NSF, Science & Engineering Indicators, 2016).

As a STEM-based organization, serving many young women, The LEAH Knox Scholars program and Life Science Cares hosted a Women in STEM panel on April 11th at Sanofi Genzyme, a biotechnology company in Cambridge. Youth had the opportunity to hear from nine distinguished women in STEM fields. The fields represented ranged from biomedical science and pharmaceuticals to engineering and data analysis. During the panel, they provided a brief overview of the work they do, how they got into the STEM field, and what it means to them being women leaders in a predominantly male-dominated field.

Afterwards, the panelists were able to get a chance to interact with the youth in small groups to go over career advice, answer questions, and get to hear more about the amazing work the mentors are doing through LEAH. The youth were engaged throughout the evening and asked many thought-provoking questions. Many youth remarked how great it was to hear from such a diverse, experienced panel.

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Summer Applications are OPEN!

The LEAH Project has TWO summer internship programs for interested high school students. Both applications are open now and are due by March 22nd.

LEAH Knox Scholars Program is a biology research internship that runs in partnership with MIT where students learn hands-on lab skills from experts in the field. Applications can be found here: http://form.leahknoxscholars.org/lks-summer-2019-application/

The LEAH Project is a STEM-based teaching internship where students have the opportunity to teach elementary school youth STEM lessons at summer camps and serve as junior counselors. Applications can be found here: http://form.leahknoxscholars.org/new-leah-mentor-application-summer-2019/

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November 1st, 2018: STEM College Conversations Night:

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On November 1st, the LEAH Project hosted a STEM College Night at Tufts Medical School. LEAH staff recruited college and graduate student volunteers who talked with our LEAH Knox Scholars about their educational experiences. In small discussion groups, the Mentors had an opportunity to ask questions that related to high school, college, and professional life related to STEM fields. 

Health Resources in Action Awarded NIH Grant for New Hands-on Biomedical Research Education for High School Students

Boston, September 7, 2017 – Health Resources in Action has received a five year, $1.25 million Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), National Institutes of Health (NIH) to expand its LEAH* STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education program for Boston and Cambridge public high school students. Health Resources in Action (HRiA) has partnered with the Boston Private Industry Council and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to provide opportunities for high school students to get a head start towards careers as leaders in biomedical research. 

HRiA’s LEAH project (Leaders through Education, Action and Hope) is a STEM, college readiness, and workforce development for Boston public school students. “We are thrilled to receive this NIH grant to support the mission of the LEAH Project. These funds allow the LEAH Project to provide hands-on lab experiences for our high school students, many of whom do not have science labs in schools,” commented Lisa Aslan, LEAH Program Manager.

The new, SEPA -funded, LEAH Knox Scholars program offers two years of support for high school students that include:

  • Training in biology lab skills through a 4-week lab experience at MIT as rising juniors.  
  • STEM teaching and mentorship for elementary school students through the LEAH program.
  • Summer research internships throughout Boston’s world-class research labs as rising seniors.
  • College admissions counseling through LEAH.

A 2016 report published authored by Robert Sege, MD, PhD,  HRiA’s Chief Medical Officer, reported that only 1% of NIH award recipients are Black scientists, and traced the under-representation all the way back to high school. Based on this insight, the LEAH Knox Scholars program will provide minority students with the solid foundation needed to continue their science education in college and beyond. Sege commented: “The LEAH Knox Scholars program exemplifies HRiA’s commitment to racial equity, and our close ties with area universities and hospitals.”

Knox Scholars is named after William J. Knox, the grandson of slaves, who went on to earn degrees from Harvard and MIT.  He contributed to the Manhattan project and had a productive career at Eastman Kodak.  “My grandfather [Dr. Knox)] had to sleep in the kitchen at Harvard, because Black men were not allowed in the dorms,” said Dr. Lynn Porter, a Boston pediatrician and advisor to the program.

This summer, HRiA and MIT enrolled 16 high school students in a LEAH pilot. This first cohort and their families were welcomed to the program by Nobel Laureate Phil Sharp, MIT biology department Chair Alan Grossman, Bob Sege and Lynn Porter. Phil Sharp reminded everyone that "a college education is a path to freedom". The students completed the pilot summer lab course, under the direction of Drs. Mandana Sassanfar and Vanessa Cheung at MIT.

*About The LEAH Project at Health Resources in Action

The Leaders through Education Action and Hope (LEAH) Project is a STEM, college readiness, and workforce development program for Boston Public School (BPS) students. Established in 2005 through the Boston Public Schools (BPS), the LEAH Project has a mission to cultivate the power of youth leaders to transform their lives and communities through science, education, and service.  LEAH joined HRiA in 2013.  HRiA is a national nonprofit public health institute located in Boston, MA with a mission to help people live healthier lives and build healthy communities through prevention, health promotion, policy and research. Additional information is available at www.leahproject.org and www.hria.org.