February 2020 – Anthony’s outreach collaboration with Natural Science Museum Highlight

Bringing U-M Research to the Public
Working with small, hand-held microscopes in the museum’s new Micro Worlds Investigate Lab, middle school students will view live cyanobacteria and discover how it can remove CO2 from the atmosphere. This activity is based on research by Anthony Vecchiarelli, assistant professor in the Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology at the University of Michigan.

The Powerhouse of the Cell workshop is an example of how the Museum of Natural History collaborates with U-M faculty to meet National Science Foundation grant requirements. The NSF requires scientists to show how their research will make a broader impact in the community. One of the ways scientists accomplish this is to “increase public scientific literacy and public engagement with science and technology.” The museum works with U-M faculty to develop a wide range of outreach activities.

“We help faculty showcase their research to public audiences through exhibits, hands-on demonstrations, interactive school workshops, and outreach to underserved communities. Sometimes we even facilitate the production of visualizations to be shown in our planetarium,” said Alicia Comer, science outreach grants manager. “It’s a great collaboration. Faculty meet their NSF Broader Impacts requirements, and the museum brings cutting-edge research to our visitors and the greater community.”

Vecchiarelli’s grant will also provide scholarship funds to schools from underserved areas.

A reviewer from Vecchiarelli’s NSF proposal commented, “This is the most serious undertaking of Broader Impacts I’ve seen as a reviewer, ever.”

Visit ummnh.org to schedule the Powerhouse of the Cell workshop for your group.

Photo (from left): Professor Anthony Vecchiarelli and UMMNH Lab Manager Kevin Farmer