The Michigan Institute for Computational Discovery and Engineering (MICDE) and Advanced Research Computing (ARC), a division of U-M Information and Technology Services (ITS) provide miRcore students access to and support for the U-M high-performance computing cluster known as Great Lakes. The MICDE team has helped the nonprofit connect with affiliated faculty and the broader U-M research community. MICDE also cosponsors miRcore high-school research conferences and supports the program’s research endeavors.
“HPC clusters are accessed through a command line with no graphical interface. This is scary or foreign to most high-school students, but accessing U-M HPC systems thanks to MICDE and ARC support is an unprecedented, even awe-inspiring experience. At first confused, once they connect with the HPC and run some commands, they feel like programmers. Such experience boosts their confidence and their familiarity with programming. The students also become inclined to choose computer-related STEMM fields, thus supporting our mission to cultivate citizen-scientists.”
— Inhan Lee, Ph.D., miRcore founder and leader of the organization’s student outreach efforts.
miRcore have developed various multi-level and multi-year programs to effectively carry out teen education in STEMM outside the classroom setting. They teach high schoolers in computational biology, which integrates all fields of STEMM, and raise awareness of genetic effects on health through activities requiring teamwork and leadership. MICDE has help miRcore serve more than 5,500 students, including through the miRcore volunteer program (MVP) community activities. Following are the organization’s annual educational activities, the MVP being the core of our program:
- Lab-on-Wheels program: Expose public high school students to quality one-day hands-on biotechnology experiments in collaboration with high school teachers. The program brings lab materials and trained TAs to classrooms to develop positive attitudes toward STEMM.
- Summer camps: Hold Computational Biology, Biotechnology, and R Programming Research camps on the University of Michigan campus and at Scripps in La Jolla, CA. 2020-2021.
- miRcore Volunteer Program(MVP, Sept.-May): Mentor high schoolers in computational biology research every weekend throughout the school year, advocating personalized medicine and fostering leadership. Recruit volunteers through our summer camps and Lab-on-Wheels program. To increase sustainability, senior volunteers teach newcomers and serve as TAs at summer camps in both Ann Arbor, MI and La Jolla, CA.
- GIDAS (guide-us: Genes In Diseases And Symptoms): a student club at high schools. The program encourages volunteers (GIDAS leaders) to disseminate their learning to peers through GIDAS activities.
- Genes and Health Contest: promotes study in science and recognizes hard work through enjoyable challenges and rewards. Open to the public, it serves as a forum where regional GIDAS members gather to learn, compete, and participate in a talent show.
- High School Research Conference: provides high schoolers a science conference setting to boost their familiarity with academic pursuits while raising community awareness of the annual conference theme. COVID-19 was the theme of our 8th conference in 2021.
- Mentor capable students in doing in-depth research.
- Micro-research grant fundraiserfor specific research. Through this activity, they practice public speaking, hold events, make posters/video clips, and raise awareness of a certain disease in the community.
- COVID-19vaccine advocacy initiative:we launched the miRcore vaccine advocacy initiative in June 2021 (https://whyvax.org/) to reduce vaccine hesitancy by utilizing personal connections of our high school and college student network.
MVP is a free, year-long program with multi-year participation options. Meetings are held in two cities, Ann Arbor, MI and La Jolla, CA. They also mentor students from different regions in the US through the internet. Each year, students vote on a disease of focus to study and advocate for those with certain diseases/symptoms such as Alzheimer’s, depression, or diabetes. For 2021-2022, they decided to study mental disorders and raise awareness of them in the community.
As students grow in the program, they develop a firm basis for reaching their potential in STEMM while building solid academic resumes for college entrance. miRcore further guides motivated students in pursuing STEMM careers, which can offer higher incomes and better job opportunities than non-STEMM careers.
Read more about miRcore.