The Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute (IHMRI) today opened its doors to school students to host UniStem Day 2020, bringing the global initiative to Wollongong for the first time.
UniStem Day has been running since 2009. It is the largest educational outreach initiative on stem cell research, inviting school children into universities and research institutes to learn about stem cell research.
Twenty science students from Smiths Hill High School and Corrimal High School were invited to learn about research at IHMRI, as well as the ethical challenges surrounding the use of stem cells.
IHMRI neuroscientist and event organiser Associate Professor Mirella Dottori hopes that IHMRI’s involvement will lead to more interest from high school students.
“UniStem Day is one of the largest global educational events and it is really exciting for IHMRI and UOW to be a part of it! It is aimed at engaging high school students about the latest developments in stem cell research. Our hope is to involve as many schools as we can within the Illawarra to participate and have students be excited about science,” said A/Prof. Dottori.
The high schoolers also heard from PhD candidates about how to get into the field of stem cell research. PhD student Simon Maksour said that UniStem is a opening doors for younger people who might be interested in stem cell research.
“It was a great opportunity to interact with keen and aspiring students and offer them insight into what a career in medical research holds.”
UniStem Day 2020 will bring together health and research institutes, universities and high schools from all over the world by involving 101 universities in Australia, Austria, Colombia, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Hungary, Italy, Spain, Poland, Portugal and Sweden.
Associate Professor Dottori was the first in NSW to be invited to take part in the initiative in 2020, and there is hope that UniStem will expand across the country throughout 2021.
Kate Brett, Community Engagement and Events Coordinator
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