September 11, 2000
Volume XXXIII, No. 33

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Physiology faculty mentor local science teachers 

Graduate

Earlier this summer, two local schoolteachers were selected to participate in the American Physiological Societyís (APS) Frontiers in Physiology program at the Health Science Center. They worked under Dr. Vernon Bishop, chairman of the physiology department, and Dr. Roger McCarter, professor. This is the first year that UTHSC faculty members have participated in the APS program. Dr. Bishop served as research mentor to Christy Menard of Harlandale High School, and Dr. McCarter sponsored Jo Eckerman from Katherine Stinson Middle School.

Eckerman and Menard received fellowships of up to $5,000 for working in the UTHSC researchersí laboratories over the summer and participating in a week-long retreat. The teachers took part in research experiments, recorded and analyzed data, participated in laboratory meetings and seminars, and presented their findings to the department.

"For many teachers, this summer experience marks the first time they have ever participated in scientific research. It gives them a new perspective on their teaching and on the importance of hands-on, inquiry-based learning, which they carry back to their students," said Dr. Marsha Lakes Matyas, education officer with APS.

"Having Jo Eckerman in the lab this summer was a delight and a win-win situation for all of us: We learned a lot about the importance of designing experiments reliable and simple enough to be done en masse by teenagers. Jo also forced us to return to basics in explaining our current research activities. She, in turn, picked up a lot of new techniques, and found out where the frontiers in aging research are. This gets us off to a really good start," said Dr. McCarter, Eckermanís mentor.

The teachers also received up to $850 to attend the spring 2001 Experimental Biology meeting, which attracts nearly 15,000 scientists annually.

The summer research component of the Frontiers program offers teachers nationwide a full-time, hands-on laboratory experience for 7Ė9 weeks. Up to 20 teachers are selected annually to work with an APS member, who serves as a teacherís host at a research institution close to the teacherís home community. Since its inception in 1990, nearly 200 teachers have participated in the program nationwide. Teachers receive $500 per week for their work. In addition, they attend a week-long, expense-paid summer retreat where they learn hands-on, inquiry-based teaching methods.

ó Jennifer Lorenzo