Young Women in Bio visit Weill Cornell

Last Wednesday the Weill Cornell Women in Science (WiS) group hosted 24 high school girls for the event, “Overview of Research Science.” Students interested in a career in science were invited from all over the city to hear about life as a researcher with visitors from Bronx High School of Science, KIPP NYC Charter School, La Scuola D’Italia G. Marconi, and the Fieldston School.

WiS is a student-run group focused on science outreach to girls, mentorship for early scientists, and career advancement. Over 25 PhD students and researchers from WiS and the Tri-Institutional Minority Society, helped plan and execute the day’s activities in conjunction with the Young Women in Bio (YWIB) initiative of the NY Chapter of Women in Biology.

The afternoon started with introductions by WiS president Nora Pyenson and YWIB volunteer Neha Nigam.  Several PhD students then discussed their research and the importance of women in science. One graduate student mentioned that in addition to the many pluses of being a scientist, including being an expert in a particular field, there are also some drawbacks like lots of reading.

After the talks, girls took a tour of three labs to get first-hand exposure to the exciting research that happens at Weill Cornell and the Sloan Kettering Institute. At Weill Cornell the research fellow Wenjiao Song discussed RNA biology while Rachel Yanowitch showed students brain cells under the microscope. At Sloan Kettering, Rachel Langenbacher told the visitors how her lab uses nanotechnology to develop new sensors and drug delivery systems.

The day wrapped up with a mixer at Archibold Commons, where students snacked on cookies and answered science trivia for prizes. With the help of graduate students, the girls were able to solve even some of the trickier questions like “Why aren’t viruses considered living things?” and “Why don’t plants get cancer?”

The event was a huge success. In addition to the planned activities the event also helped foster connections for future summer internships and the WiS group was invited to speak to students at one of the high schools. The next outreach event is a Girl Scouts day on December 12th, 2015. For more information about this event or anything WiS-related please contact Nora Pyenson (

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