Science Teacher Participates in Molecular Biology Research

This summer, science teacher Kathryn Wallace dove into a research project at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center through the Science Education Partnership (SEP) program.

“I have been completely revitalized and reinvigorated,” says Kathryn on the final day of the two-and-a half-week program. “Being in the lab was my favorite part. They let me mutate cells! I was knocking genes out of cells!"

SEP takes approximately 20 middle and high school teachers and puts them in an intensive science boot camp at Fred Hutch. During the program, each teacher adopts the role of a student and learns sophisticated lab techniques under the guidance of lab research professionals. For one week of the program, the teachers are paired with scientists to participate in ongoing research projects.

Kathryn worked in virologist Dr. Michael Emerman's lab. His lab is researching the history of human proteins and investigating whether genetically manipulated or new proteins can be used to fight HIV.

Kathryn plans to take her new knowledge directly to the classroom, focusing her teaching on molecular biology of three diseases: HPV, HIV, and diabetes. As a lifelong member of SEP, Kathryn has access to a number of laboratory grade resources provided by Fred Hutch, and that is what she is most excited to bring back to the classroom.

"If you want to visualize DNA, you need to do this thing called electrophroseis. That component is incredibly expensive," explains Katherine. "The loan program provides all the equipment, all the consumables, all of the solutions you need, and it is free for life. SEP is a membership to an amazing science club, and my students will get to see the benefits immediately."