Future Science Leaders presented by Acuitas (FSL) is Science World's after-school program that connects teens to like-minded peers and STEAM experts. Our partners make FSL possible: Acuitas; Boeing; RBC Foundation; AMGEN; STEMCELL Technologies; and NumerixS Quant.
We spoke with four partners whose lives were touched by the kind of informal science education that occurs in FSL. They shared how experiences like the ones available in FSL supported their own development and inspired them to pursue a career in STEAM.
Lilin Zhang: Senior Business Development Associate, Acuitas Therapeutics
“Growing up, I had more informal science education opportunities than I can count! From participating in Vancouver regional science fairs, to attending Science Al!ve events, to visiting Science World dozens of times, the list goes on. This early engagement with hands-on, real-world science went beyond the traditional school curriculum and actually inspired me to pursue an avenue of it in university. But more than that, the programs taught me collaboration, which has been an invaluable asset that helps me every day. Just like in Future Science Leaders, I needed to work in groups, complete projects and solve puzzles. Similarly, in my current role at Acuitas, every day I make connections, collaborate and problem-solve. When a partner has a unique issue that we’ve never seen before, we have to wrap our brains around it and be flexible to help the collaboration move forward and the partnership achieve success. Collaboration skills are useful in any profession you’ll pursue, and FSL is a great place to learn and practice that in a STEAM environment.”
Christy Thomson, Principal Scientist, Amgen
“I grew up in a small town on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia and didn’t have many opportunities to see science up close. But today, I’m a Principal Scientist at a large biotechnology company, leading a team to discover novel medicines that treat tough diseases such as asthma and cancer. I attribute part of my success to the informal science-learning experiences I was lucky to have in high school when I attended Shad Canada, a one-month summer camp where students take part in intensive STEAM and entrepreneurship activities. We learned business and science through weekly topics, challenges, outings and competitions. We got hands-on experience with cutting-edge technology like engineering software. I was exposed to diverse students from across the country and worked with them on projects, leveraging the unique skills that everyone brought to the table, which is hugely important in my current role in biotech. Another major focus was the importance of tenacity in the face of failure, which has really impacted my role as a scientist at Amgen. Learning those skills early on gave me the confidence to tackle hard questions throughout my career. And I'm still constantly learning, because science is a journey that never ends. I’d encourage any teen who loves science to apply to Future Science Leaders. Have confidence in your abilities and take risks. Make yourself uncomfortable. You’ll be surprised at what’s possible.”
Honey Modi: Lead Scientist in Recombinant molecules, ECM's and Antibodies, STEMCELL Technologies
“A person working in science needs to have more questions than answers. I learned that in my experience participating in science fairs as a youth. In school, I didn’t receive formal training in scientific research, but science fairs equipped me with the skills and knowledge to truly explore my passions. They also helped me get very good at discussing my work and presenting it to other students and adults. I was a bit introverted and, in school, we wrote lots of papers but didn’t get much practice in helping others who might not know as much as we do to understand complex ideas. That’s what I love about FSL, how it emphasizes science communication. At STEMCELL, every team member has to know how to share what we do, from the scientists to the medical professionals to the patent lawyers to the business analysts. That's the only way science gets out of the lab and into the world, and those kinds of skills start in programs like FSL.”
Nicole Slater: Director, Business Performance Support, RBC
“I grew up in Prince George and the interior and, at that time, there were no afterschool science enrichment programs like Future Science Leaders. But my dad is an electrical engineer, and science was always well-regarded in my household. On weekends we’d go to The Exploration Place, the only science centre in BC's Northern region. I loved interacting with the exhibitions that were rooted in the forest landscape and ecosystem of my local environment. It was this early and regular hands-on experiences with the science and physics of the natural world that eventually led me to pursue astronomy in school, completing a Master's degree in Astrophysics. If I could give one piece of advice to my teen self, it would be to visit the science centre even more than I did, and to stop worrying about test scores. If you trust your intuition to pursue what you love, you can rest assured, those skills will be transferrable to any career you can dream of.”
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