Eight-year-old Edmund Baker arrived at Baylor College of Medicine ready to learn more about worms. His mother, Nicola, told him that he would not only meet a medical doctor, but a researcher who works with worms.
Dressed in a green T-shirt, jeans and tennis shoes, the second grader started Baylor College of Medicine’s Ask Me About My Research video shoot with a question for Rachel Arey, assistant professor of molecular and cellular biology: “Why exactly do you study worms?”
Baylor’s in-house video team has relaunched the Ask Me About My Research series for 2023. The last in-person video shoot was in January 2020, a few months before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Edmund’s quest for worm facts – how long do they live; do they stay alive in extremely cold weather; are mummy zombie worms real – is the first featured video in the series this year.
Ask Me About My Research started in 2018 to bring more exposure to faculty members who focus on research. Research faculty often work for months or years in a laboratory-setting before their work is ready to present.
Modeled after a Houston Texans segment where a child interviewed a football player, the video team designed the series to have kids interview faculty members so the answers would be easy for anyone to understand.
Plus, kids talking science makes for a cute conversation.
“For many of us, our trajectory toward becoming a scientist started when we were curious children,” said Mary Dickinson, Ph.D., senior vice president and dean of research. “I love this series because the pure curiosity that comes from a child is the curiosity that ultimately drives innovation. It is great to celebrate that!”
A few hours after Edmund finished with Arey, sisters Lucy and Cecilia Cannizzaro interviewed Dr. Robert Atmar, professor of infectious diseases, on the importance of vaccines.
Lucy, 9, and Cecilia, 8, arrived dressed to impress in matching pink and violet dresses and pearls. Each girl took turns asking Atmar why he chose to research infectious diseases, how he tests his ideas and whether animals can contract COVID-19.
Lucy, who remembered having the flu and missing a fun school field trip because of it, asked Atmar if he ever felt like giving up on his research.
“No, I don’t give up because you turn around and ask another question,” Atmar said. “One thing a scientist has to be is patient. Sometimes it doesn’t work, but you try again.”
During the height of the pandemic, the video team produced several virtual editions of Ask Me About My Research that mainly focused on new research on the novel coronavirus.
The Ask Me About My Research series feels like a welcome return to “business as usual” for Bethany Strother, senior communications specialist for digital media.
“We are now able to do things we couldn’t do during COVID, like bringing kids on campus safely,” Strother said. “It’s a reminder to researchers and doctors why they’re doing what they do and why they became a scientist.”
By Julie Garcia