Outreach in the Nayak Lab

In addition to our scientific research, members of our lab are widely engaged in outreach projects to share science with our broader Bay Area community. Our general outreach goals are to increase community engagement with science and promote equity in the pursuit of scientific careers. Read about some of our specific outreach activities below.

Students from a local Bay Area high school learn to use a portable microscope for the Backyard Microbes outreach activity.

Backyard Microbes: Hands-on experience in microbiology for local high school students.

Nayak Lab postdoc Fernando Medina Ferrer leads this program in the East Bay Area. He teaches local high school students to explore microbial biofilms and their activity in natural habitats through hands-on experiments. The main activities of this program consist of: (1) Assembling and using a portable microscope, (2) assembling and using a field colorimetric microbial activity assay, and (3) documenting the results obtained from environmental samples. Equipped with portable microscopes and field assays, students independently observe and collect data from diverse habitats, introducing them to the fascinating microbial world. Nayak lab members Nina, Blake, Alienor, Katie, Dinesh, and Jonathan have all participated in this outreach program.
We’d like to thank the following organizations for their generous contributions to funding this program: MBL Alumni ROCS (Regional Outreach and Communication in STEM) Program. Here is the report of our outreach activity in the MBL website.

Pub Science: Engagement with the East Bay community

Nayak Lab members, Jonathan, Blake, & Alienor have presented at Pub Science, a monthly speaker series that takes place at a local pub. Each month, speakers present a short talk on their research or a topic of popular interest. These talks are meant to be accessible to the broader public and offer a forum where scientists and community members can engage in meaningful conversation. Nayak Lab graduate student Katie Shalvarjian is one of the organizers for this event through the CLEAR Project.

Postdoc Jonathan Gropp presents on global methane cycling at Pub Science!
Building an online resource bank for graduate school applications

Decreasing barriers to graduate school: Project SHORT and Undergraduate Equity Advising

From hidden curriculum in graduate school applications to a lack of research opportunities for undergraduates, many undergraduates who are interested in pursuing science at the graduate level face barriers in achieving that goal. Several Nayak Lab graduate students are working to lower these barriers. Katie and Alienor has spent several years mentoring through Project SHORT, an organization that matches prospective graduate students with mentors who guide them through the graduate school application process. In addition, both Katie and Alienor are serving as inaugural Undergraduate Equity Advisors through the PMB department. In these positions, Katie and Alienor will host panel discussions, assemble digital resources, and provide drop-in “office hours” style advising to assist UC Berkeley Undergraduates with their graduate school applications.

Peer to Peer Mentorship: Easing the transition to graduate school

Nayak Lab members Katie and Alienor have been heavily involved in PMB’s graduate peer mentorship program through the past three years. This group aims to build community & demystify grad school for incoming first year students through one-on-one mentorship, social outings, and panels ranging in topic from applying to fellowships & choosing rotations, to managing work-life balance. Katie served as head peer mentor for this program during the 2022-2023 academic year.

Peer mentors help first and second year graduate students with rotations, choosing labs, qualifying exams, and more.
Gray conducts a science demo at El Cerrito High School.

The Miller Institute Outreach Program: Science demos for local high school students

From 2020-2023 Postdoc Gray Chadwick organized and participated in the Miller Institute’s science outreach program at El Cerrito High School where he discussed his path into a career in science and prepared demonstrations based on some of his favorite science concepts. Demos included ferrofluid and cloud chambers for the physics classes and examples of symbiosis and parasitism for the biology and environmental science classes (lichens, dodder, legume root nodules, etc).

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