Excited to hear what sort of science nyc high school students in collaborations with an academic lab have been doing. This talk os called: Viruses in the city and why we should care about them. Hosted at NYAM by Biobus

The first part of this event is Florian Krammer with a short talk about flu viruses and how they circulate in birds. This is the justification for the surveillance work on city birds. Next up the students who are doing the work to present data!

Daneidy Burgos shares the research question: what is the prevalence of avian influenza virus (AIV) and avian paramyxovirus (APV) in NYC birds. As well as some background on these viruses.

Marina Daillo shares the method of sampling of brirds via a NYC park permit, as well as via the wild bird fund. 26 days, 7000 bird fecal samples, 1700 pharynx and cloaca samples from 800 birds. Processed by PCR.

Aaron Huang shares the results of the surviellance. No AIV, but 8 positive results for APV. They cultured 2 novel isolates and published in Microbiology Spectrum.

The students are asked how it feels to get a positive result by pcr. One answer is: electrifying! Another student asks: were the species that the positive result was found in social? One answer is: rock doves and yes. A community member asks about how the experience impacted their development as a person. One answer: does not want to keep sampling birds. Another answer: confirmed that they want to study research biology.

Now there is moderated discussion with the Jr researchers. They are sharing their experiences from the program. I'm happy to hear that one takeaway is that there is more than one way into scientific research and more than one way out. I'm also digging the indepth descriptions of handling birds dead and alive.

It's interesting to hear them articulate the benefits of connections into the world of science and the opportunity to work in the lab. But they don't use the language of social capital, they are thinking in terms of getting to some destination. I'm struck by the phrasing "the program allowed us to sample..." because I've heard it before from a community lab member. I'm interested to challenge any underlying ideology that contributes tofolks feeling they need permission to do a project.

The reporter/moderater asks: if the president calls and asks what should be done about the pandemic. This elicits a range of responses from these young scientists which reveal a lot about their politics and media consumption. I'm happy they feel bold enough to state their opinions, but I also wonder if the audiences predictable responses reinforces a very unradical worldview.

She follows up with the question: should the government be using tiktok for PSA style outreach? Karla Azcona questions if tiktok is the right medium for this type of communication given that it is highly commercialized and coveys a certain air of luxury. And Apoorva Mandavilli asserts that it seems like people do get their information from tiktok. I'd love to hear more on this subject but I think it's out of scope of the discussion.


I'm really happy to hear that after the program the students feel emboldened to ask questions and have some great credentials and connections to draw upon during their career. Their confidence as learners is important because we're always learning. I feel inspired to ensure I'm empowering my interns with the same sense of autonomy as well as push them to think about how they can use the value of their specialized labour to change the world in for the better based on their lived experience.

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