Scientists Attract Students to Excitement in Research
May, Bill, THE JOURNAL RECORD
By Bill May
Journal Record Staff Reporter
The best way to interest young students in science is to tell them about exciting projects under way in research labs and how this can enrich society and improve lives.
That's the reasoning of three researchers who came to Oklahoma City for the 35th Frontiers of Science Foundation. The focus of the 1993 symposium, held at the Oklahoma City Civic Center, was bio-medical research.
Each year since 1958 the foundation has sponsored a symposium featuring top scientists within a given field to which high school students from all over the state are invited. About 700 students from schools in all parts of the state attended the 1993 symposium, according to President Robert Abernathy.
The 1994 symposium is shaping up to feature technology and how it's used today, giving a history of how technology has evolved over the years, Abernathy said. Speakers and dates have not been lined up.
Idea behind the symposium, according to Chairman Rodman Frates, is to show students the importance of science and how exciting it can be.
All three of the 1993 speakers agreed with that assessment.
"If I can reach just one youngster, create that spark which will cause that person to want to pursue science, it's been worth it," said Dr. Ronald Kline, a pediatric hemotologist-oncologist and bone marrow transplant physician at Sunrise Children's Hospital in Las Vegas. "I've always been interested in kids and helping ease their pain. I don't like to see kids in pain, so naturally I've specialized in pediatric ontology (the study and treatment of childhood cancer)."
Hearing a speaker at a similar symposium and listening to his professors in college is what convinced Dr. Richard E. Myers of Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., to go into science. Today, Myers is an associate professor of genetics and director of the Human Genome Mapping Center at Stanford.
That center is in the process of identifying the 100,000 genes which make up all living organisms. Scientists so far have identified only about 5,000 genes. "As you can see, we've still got a lot of work ahead of us," Myers said.
"Besides, they (students) need to start to understand all this stuff we're doing and how it affects all of us," he said. "I'm still trying to understand it. I just hope the students do, so they can get a better idea of the stuff scientists do for a living.
Using prosthetics as props show the students exactly how science can improve the quality of life for people, something which attracts young people, said John A. Sabolich, president and clinical director of Sabolich Prosthetic and Research Center, 4301 N. Classen Blvd. in Oklahoma City.
"A lot of young engineering students really don't consider this field exists until they are introduced to it," Sabolich said.
While Myers is engaged in a long-term pure research project, both Kline and Sabolich are involved in applied research which is used daily, they said.
As an example, Kline said, bone marrow transplantation is a relatively young science, the first successful such transplant was made in 1968 and has progressed "remarkably since then."
"I've read a lot about Nobel (prize) winners of the 1950s and some of the things which won back then seem crude to us today," he said. …