In observance of Girls in Science Day on March 1, Capital University hosted 100 high school freshman and sophomore girls on campus.
Students from Bexley, Groveport Madison and Whitehall-Yearling high schools along with those from Pickerington High School Central and North, participated in a mock crime-scene investigation using scientific methods, lab experiences and other forensic techniques. Capital President Elizabeth Paul, Provost Jody Fournier and other university administrators participated as characters in the mock-crime scenario.
The goal of Girls in Science Day is to keep young women engaged and interested in pursuing careers in science, said Carmen Dixon, an instructor in Capital's education department.
"We're really trying to teach you how to be lifelong learners of science, how to use science skills to solve problems," Dixon told the students.
Girls in Science Day culminated with a panel discussion with Capital faculty sharing how women can succeed in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields. Panelists included Tracey Murray, associate professor and chairwoman of the chemistry and biochemistry department; Jennifer Larson, an associate professor in genetics; Christine Anderson, an associate professor in biology and environmental sciences; and Megan Beard, an assistant professor in health and sports sciences.
Murray and Larson both found their career paths by chance after starting off with other college majors.
"I went to grad school thinking I would go to work in pharmaceuticals and make drugs for a living," Murray said. "My third year in grad school, I fell into teaching. They make you teach when you're in grad school and I absolutely love it. I was 25 before I had an actual career path."
Larson said she was originally a music major, but found science to be a better fit.
"I ended up switching majors" to biochemistry, Larson said. "During my first year in graduate school, I ended up in the genetics lab and just fell in love with it."
The panelists gave the students pointers on how to identify college majors in STEM-related subjects that might interest them.
"Those are great questions to ask: 'What am I required to complete in this major?' " Anderson said. "If you hate everything in it, that's a good time to ask, 'What other majors do you have and what does that look like?' "
Beard said she uses her professional expertise not only to research how sports and science intersect, but also to hone her own athletic skills.
"I love running. I research running and I work with the running community here in Columbus," Beard said. "I try to figure out how runners get injured, how to prevent (injuries)."
The professors also shared insights about balancing work and family.
"We all have daughters," Anderson said, "which is perfect for our theme today."