River Journal recently attended an event at the Regeneron DNA Learning Center in Sleepy Hollow with Dr. Raven (Baxter) the Science Maven where she worked with a class of high school students from the Yonkers Partners In Education (YPIE). The morning event – held on Indigenous Peoples’ Day when the students could have had the day off – was packed with close to 30 students who participated in a molecular biology experiment led by a teacher from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories (who runs the DNA Learning Center).
After the event, River Journal writer and Ossining High School Junior, Katelyn Battacharia, caught up with Dr. Baxter.
RJ: How did you start working with students from the Yonkers Partners In Education?
Raven: I am partnered with Regeneron to share with the public all of the exciting work that is being done to usher in the next generation of scientists such as the Science Talent Search and the International Science and Engineering Fair. One of the cool opportunities that I get to do as part of this partnership is to teach introductory molecular biology techniques to high school students at the Regeneron DNA Learning Center.
RJ: Describe your experience conducting experiments with these students.
Raven: The students from the Yonkers Partners In Education are brilliant. They were eager to get hands-on experience in the lab.
RJ: What was the most inspiring part of working with YPIE students?
Raven: The most inspiring part of working with YPIE students was the enthusiasm for science and learning more.
RJ: How did you start your career in science?
Raven: I always had a natural inclination towards science. When I was a kid, I would ask questions about the world around me. I would then go and research the answers at the library. This was the beginning of my scientific research career, as I never stopped asking questions, even when I found the answers.
RJ: Describe a typical day as a scientist.
Raven: Every scientist has a different type of day. Right now, I practice as a science communicator and my days look very different week to week. My goal every day is to bridge the gap between science and the public. This is why I especially love having opportunities like this to engage with the public.
RJ: What is your favorite part of your career?
Raven: I love opportunities where I get to interface with people in person, doing science.
RJ: What advice would you give to a high school student interested in pursuing a career in STEM?
Raven: Get ready to have the biggest adventure of your life.
RJ: What was a challenge that you faced in your career that had a big impact on your life?
Raven: There were times where I felt like I was challenged and didn’t feel like I could be myself unapologetically. I decided to show up and just be myself, and since I did that, I had a wonderful career. I wouldn’t be where I am today without making that decision to show up unapologetically.
Through Dr. Raven and many other scientists, it is apparent that working in STEM is not only about advancing our knowledge of the world and looking for solutions to global problems, but also giving back to the community. Being a scientist, it is important to not only conduct research, but also to share your knowledge with the public, as Dr. Raven states. Through experiences like the collaboration between YPIE and the Regeneron DNA Learning center, students and scientists are able to share their love of science. They are able to learn from mentors like Dr. Raven and excite a new curiosity in pursuing a thrilling and inspiring career in science.