Mei-Ling Liber, Graduate Women in Science (GWIS) outreach committee co-chair recently shared with us her experiences leading the GWIS outreach committee, hosting a recent outreach event, and why graduate students should join. Mei-Ling is also a biology graduate student and a Barbara McClintock Science Achievement Graduate Fellow in Biology.
Q: What is your research area
MLL: Using next-generation sequencing to identify genetic links to virulence, evolution, and diversity in Herpes Simplex Virus 1 (HSV-1).
Q: Why did you join GWIS?
MLL: As someone who started graduate school later in life, I realize that my identity plays an important role in shaping who I am as an individual and as a scientist. I am very passionate about the mission of Graduate Women in Science (GWIS), which is to “build a global community that inspires, supports, recognizes, and empowers women [and people from diverse backgrounds] in science.” I would like to continue that mission to help younger people who are traditionally underrepresented in STEM unlock their growth potential to become leaders in science.
Q: What is your favorite part of GWIS?
MLL: How active everyone is in the organization. We regularly have lots of people showing up to events, contributing, and cheering on fellow co-chairs. The energy and support throughout the organization is infectious, which further motivates me to participate in on-campus activities and in the community.
Q: Can you tell us more about your recent Zombie Ball event?
MLL: Our most recent outreach event was the “Zombie Ball” at Nittany Mall, which was sponsored by Seven Mountains Media and Pop 93.3 Radio. It’s an annual family event hosted by the mall to celebrate Halloween, with face painting, a costume contest, and music. GWIS was invited to join this year, and this was the first time the Nittany Mall had ever partnered with a volunteer organization from Penn State, so we felt incredibly honored to participate in the festivities. This event was in part supported by the Eberly College Science Achievement Graduate Scholarship Funds.
A favorite moment from the event was seeing the entire room packed with people who were curious about things they had never seen before about science. Even something as simple as having preserved biological organisms in jars sparked tons of interest and wonder from both kids and adults. Seven Mountains Media informed me that there were 1,000 people in attendance that night! Our scientific demos would not be possible without the help from Dr. Denise Woodward and Jeremy Harper in the Biology Department who graciously lent us the lab equipment for this event.