Magazine article Volta Voices

Ag Bell Research Internships Support: Stem Scholars

Magazine article Volta Voices

Ag Bell Research Internships Support: Stem Scholars

Article excerpt

AG Bell has never lost sight of the innovative and progressive outlook of its founder. Dr. Alexander Graham Bell was always a scientist, from the time of his youth when he explored language development to his years of creating methods to teach people who are deaf to speak through a lifetime of invention and exploration. Dr. Bell was always focused on the future and the benefits that his studies and inventions could bring to society.

AG Bell recently celebrated that commitment to making the world a better place at its Legacy of Innovation Gala. It is a legacy that we continue to embrace and perpetuate.

Throughout 2016, J. Tilak Ratnanather, Ph.D., associate research professor at Johns Hopkins University and a 2015 recipient of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring, led a team of research professors at four universities across the nation who focused their attention on building pathways for students using listening and spoken language to participate in research internships.

This team of researchers recognized the vital need for more students to excel in science, technology mathematics and engineering (STEM) and chose to make a difference. Like many minorities, people who are deaf are vastly underrepresented in STEM, and this research team-most of whom are deaf or hard of hearing themselves-made a commitment to change the opportunities for these emerging scientists who are deaf and to provide thesm with supportive mentoring needed to succeed.

This past summer, AG Bell sent two students to intern in the sciences: Evan Mercer, a junior at Vanderbilt University majoring in neuroscience, spent his summer at Johns Hopkins University working on research related to brain mapping in schizophrenia; and Willa Tsao, a sophomore at Cornell studying biology, worked on music perception with cochlear implants at the University of Southern California (USC). AG Bell is grateful to both of these outstanding schools for offering these opportunities and putting their support behind our students.

Johns Hopkins secured funds from the National Institute of Mental Health for Mercer's sojourn. AG Bell deepened its commitment to STEM and the legacy of innovation by matching USC's support for Tsao's experience with some help from a sponsoring professor.

Beyond the experience of real-life research, these young scientists gained the guidance and mentoring of scientists who are deaf and are excelling in their fields. …

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