Guest post written by NAS Committee Member Anne Egger
How do we make change happen in education? Not just one teacher engaging more students, or one school increasing student achievement, or one state legislating smaller class sizes, but transformative change that shifts the entire system to a new equilibrium?
For Saira Sakalaš, learning she was selected as an Amgen Scholar last year was the beginning of a new chapter in her life. She says she will never forget the moment she got an email from the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden offering her the fellowship.
In second grade, when asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, Timothy Day said: “a chemist who would try to cure cancer.” He wasn’t too far off the mark. Two decades later, with biochemistry, microbiology, and neuroscience degrees in hand, Amgen Scholar alumnus Day has started his own company to to develop gene therapies for intestinal and systemic diseases.
ASP: Can you tell me a little bit about your research as an Amgen Scholar?
Loving: During my time as an Amgen Scholar at the UC Berkeley, I have been working with Priya Moorjani’s lab, which focuses on evolutionary biology and population genetics. I have been developing and implementing a pipeline for reliably estimating the germline mutation rate in primates.
Ask Ivan Simpson-Kent who his early idols were and he would give a surprising response: criminals. This is despite growing up in a dangerous neighborhood in West Philadelphia, where he lived across from drug dealers, often heard gunshots at night, and nearly daily stories of people, mostly youth, getting murdered. “I perceived these criminals as invincible outlaws going against the limits society had placed upon them,” he says.
“My teacher is amazing. This is my second year speaking English for the first time, and she has provided me with help to improve my English skills while learning biological concepts and lab skills. She promotes multiculturalism and diversity, and she deserves some recognition for her hard work.” -Student of Mary Jo Renear at East Longmeadow High School in Western Massachusetts