Thomas Landefeld: Never Too Early to Encourage Young Scientists
Professor of biology Thomas Landefeld spoke at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS), which took place last month in Phoenix. His talk titled “Community College Students: Why you are at ABRCMS and how you can make the most of your conference experience” addressed the opportunities for networking and presentation experience that are available at the conference.
Landefeld says that conferences like ABRCMS encourage students to pursue careers in the sciences with much needed mentoring and exposure to the possibility of graduate school.
“They learn about what it takes for transferring and going on to advanced degrees, about being professional and preparing their portfolios,” he notes. “Attendance is just a most positive experience in all ways. In fact for the students that I spoke to, ABRCMS was the very first conference that they ever had attended.”
The former director of the Bridges to the Baccalaureate Degree program and the Undergraduate Student Training in Academic Research (U*STAR) program at California State University, Dominguez Hills, Landefeld has recently addressed students as young as middle school with the prospects of college and graduate degrees. Students from Glenn Hammond Curtiss Middle School in Carson attended a recruitment event on the CSU Dominguez Hills campus on Nov. 21, presented by the university and Hippocrates Circle, a physician-run mentoring program sponsored by Kaiser Permanente and the University of California, San Diego. CSU Dominguez Hills alumni Dr. Lucio Loza and former U*STAR Scholar and Dr. Cheryl Browne spoke to the students as well. Both are physicians at Kaiser.
Landefeld says that it is never too early to promote degrees and careers in the sciences, as students are most likely to be exposed in their early years to negative influences in films and other media that depict scientists as nerds and geeks and the misconception that mathematics and science are subjects too difficult to master.
“It is critically important to provide them with positive and real influences about science at those vulnerable ages,” he says. “It is believed that students decide not to go into science as early as the 4th grade. Shows like the “CSI” series have actually been a most positive influence. Even though they are glamorized for TV, they do present science and scientists in a positive way.”
Landefeld was also the keynote speaker for a Math and Science Day at San Bernardino Valley College that involved 200 high school students from the San Bernardino area.
In addition, Landefeld gave several talks on preparing minority students for degrees and careers in the biomedical fields at several Historically Black Colleges (HBC) and Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HIS) this fall, including the National Hispanic University in San Jose, Tougaloo College in Jackson, Miss., Hostos Community College in the Bronx, Texas Southern University in Houston, and Alabama State University in Montgomery.
- Joanie Harmon