Scientists gain scientific storytelling skills

Three teams of science students at The Summit Country Day School will present abstracts at an international meeting called Experimental Biology on April 27-30. The students are part of an extracurricular program called MAPS (Modeling a Protein Story) led by science teachers Dr. Jessica Replogle and Mrs. Karen Suder.  

After reading scientific papers on their protein of interest, students connect the protein structure data to the protein’s biological role to tell a structure-function story. Their teachers moderated the group through the process of selecting a protein of interest, learning about its importance, modeling the protein and 3D printing it then creating a poster presentation of the protein story. 

“Students worked on modeling a protein using the Protein Data Base files, Jmol and 3D printing,” explains Dr. Replogle. "Using their models, students tell their structure-function story in a scientific poster format. This year, the three MAPS Teams have recorded their poster presentations to supplement visitor viewing of their virtual poster at the meeting, where as many as 12,000 attendees could hear their work.”  

Experimental Biology 2021 takes a deep dive across five disciplines including anatomy, biochemistry and molecular biology, investigative pathology, pharmacology, and physiology. Participants have the opportunity to learn about new developments and emerging trends in the life sciences. Two years ago, a group of Summit scientists attended the meeting in Florida to present in person at the conference and, unfortunately, last year the meeting in Wisconsin was cancelled. This year’s event will be held virtually, and our students will join discussion groups via video conferencing to answer questions about their work on Wednesday, April 28. 

“The past year has shown us how important scientific communication is to the general public,” says Dr. Replogle. “Scientific storytelling is a key method to enhance engagement with the science and stories help people understand and remember the science. This is a wonderful skill for our young scientists to learn.” 

Congratulations to these students: 

Team Prion: Irene Calderon '22, Danny McDowell '22, Sophia Stanisic '21, Ann Welling '22. This team modeled the Prion cellular and prion scrapie proteins with a project titled, “Pathologic Prion Protein Forms a Beta-Solenoid Structure Initiated by Misfolding of Its Flexible N-terminal Region.“ 

Team Menthol: Siena Cutforth '22, Katie Dobelhoff '22, Ellie Moran '22. This team modeled the menthol receptor which also senses cold with a project titled, “Modeling the Menthol Binding Pocket Within TRPM8 Ion Channel.” 

Team Capsaicin: Jimmy Fraley '22, Thomas Lamarre '22, Evan Mescher '23, CJ Replogle '22. This team modeled the capsaicin receptor which also senses heat with a project titled, “Investigating the Structure-Function Relationship Between TRPV1 Channels and Pain.”