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UTHSC, Shelby County Schools to Host Free Science Workshop for High School Students June 21-25

Dr. Chikeze O. Madu , a UTHSC alumnus, shown in previous years in the lab with White Station High School students, is leading a free science workshop for high school students at the University of Memphis.

The College of Graduate Health Sciences at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and Shelby County Schools are partnering to host a free weeklong science workshop for high school students June 21-25 at the University of Memphis. Thirty-two students will participate, and the UTHSC College of Graduate Health Sciences will be providing all lab materials, with the graduate students and postdoctoral scholars providing laboratory assistance.

The workshop is designed to help high school students enhance their awareness and curiosity in genetics, genomics, and personalized medicine. In the lab, students will participate in various modules on molecular genetics, the use of bioinformatics tools, and the ethics of genetics research. Additionally, they will conduct classroom experiments in different areas of genetic engineering including DNA sequencing, collecting and analyzing real data, and discussing the ethical complexities of human genomics, research, and medicine.

“UTHSC originally intended to have in-person laboratory instruction last year, using our graduate students and postdoctoral scholars as subject matter experts,” said Donald B. Thomason, PhD, dean of the  UTHSC College of Graduate Health Sciences. “We didn’t want Shelby County Schools students to lose out on this important aspect of learning. The easing of restrictions allowed us to quickly organize an intense, one-week workshop, thanks to generous donations from our alumni.”

College of Graduate Health Sciences alumnus Chikeze O. Madu, PhD, and Dean Thomason conceived the idea for the workshop as a way to make up for missed opportunities during the pandemic. “Most students were learning virtually last school year, so we primarily want to provide them with some of the lab experiences that they missed,” said Dr. Madu, who is an Advanced Placement Biology/Dual Enrollment Biology Instructor at White Station High School and the University of Memphis.  UofM is providing the space for the event at Patterson Hall on its campus.

Bringing this event to UTHSC presents an opportunity to expose young minds to the fascinating field of science and introduces them to some resources and amazing faculty in UTHSC. Many of my students look outside the city and state when considering graduate schools. My goal is to make them aware of the great training and potential right here in their backyard. I’m honored to still be in collaboration with the graduate school and Dean Donald Thomason, who has been a mentor, partner, and huge supporter of our school system.”

“We recognize the challenges and gaps in learning opportunities across the county as the result of the pandemic and historic inequities,” said SCS Superintendent Dr. Joris M. Ray. “However, with partners like UTHSC, the University of Memphis, and through the ingenuity and creativity of teachers like Dr. Madu, SCS is reimagining education and technology to ensure our students are leaders and innovators of tomorrow.”