SOP Researcher Joins “Meet the Scientists” Forum at National STEM Festival

Dr. Amanda Oglesby-Sherrouse meets with children and teens at the USA Science and Engineering Festival to shed light on her day-to-day life as a scientist and the cutting-edge research being conducted in her laboratory.

By Malissa Carroll
May 14, 2014

A passionate advocate for science education and outreach, Amanda Oglesby-Sherrouse, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences (PSC) at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, joined researchers from across the country in the “Meet the Scientists and Engineers” Forum at the third USA Science and Engineering Festival in Washington, DC on April 27, where she spoke with children and teens about her career at the School of Pharmacy and the cutting-edge research currently being conducted in her laboratory.

“There seems to be a growing disconnect between people who are involved in science and those who are not,” says Oglesby-Sherrouse. “Events like the USA Science and Engineering Festival are needed to show people just how accessible science is to everyone. The activities offered through this festival helped children and adults alike not only learn how they might pursue a career in science, but open their eyes to what science is all about and how it impacts their lives.”

The largest science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education event of its kind in the United States, the USA Science and Engineering Festival is designed to inspire children and teens’ interest in STEM-related fields. Oglesby-Sherrouse participated in the festival’s “Meet the Scientists and Engineers” forum, which was designed to allow the festival’s attendees to meet real-life role models in STEM.

“The groundbreaking research conducted by PSC faculty members focuses on improving human health by advancing basic science and drug discovery across a number of fields, and we embrace the importance of sharing this knowledge and research with others through public education and outreach programs,” says Andrew Coop, PhD, professor and chair of PSC. “Through her participation in the USA Science and Engineering Festival, Dr. Oglesby-Sherrouse demonstrated one of our department’s core values – commitment to our community. She helped inspire the public’s interest in science and show both children and adults that not only is science accessible to everyone, but it can also be fun.”

A microbiologist by training, Oglesby-Sherrouse’s research focuses on understanding the iron regulatory pathways in Pseudomonas aeruginosa (P. aeruginosa) – an opportunistic pathogen that commonly affects patients with cystic fibrosis and other immunocompromising diseases. She notes that she has always been passionate about inspiring a love of science in others, explaining why she could not turn down the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy’s (AACP) invitation to participate in the forum.

“I love getting people excited about science,” says Oglesby-Sherrouse. “I think having the opportunity to do that each day – whether it’s by training future scientists in my lab or speaking with people at events like this festival – is one of the most unique and wonderful parts of my job.”

At the festival, Oglesby-Sherrouse spoke to a number of children and young adults about their interest in science, including one student who recently moved to the United States from Bermuda and was interested in applying her skills as an artist to a science-related career, but wasn’t sure where to begin. Oglesby-Sherrouse discussed how her skills as an artist could be applied to science. “There is an increasing appreciation for the role of art in science, from education to outreach, even graphics for computational modeling. You can apply those skills in so many different ways, depending on what you are most interested in,” she said.

Though she enjoyed offering guidance and advice to attendees about how to pursue science-related careers, Oglesby-Sherrouse candidly admits that the highlight of her time at the festival was listening to a four-year-old child talk about his recent visit to the doctor.

“He asked me if his stuffy nose was caused by bacteria or a virus,” recalls Oglesby-Sherrouse. “He really understood the goal of the festival – that it was about him. Not about him showing off how much he already knew, but about him learning more, having fun, and understanding that science is fun. Children are always very inquisitive, and to see a child with that level of curiosity was very exciting.”

A first-time visitor to the festival, Oglesby-Sherrouse says that she cannot wait to return next year.

“The biggest lesson that I took away from my time there is that science is not only something that should be celebrated more, but that it really has the ability to inspire that inquisitive child that still lives in all of us,” says Oglesby-Sherrouse. “This festival was remarkable for its ability to make science accessible, and make it something with which everyone would want to be involved. I cannot wait to go back next year.”

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