In the vermilion-gold light of a humid June morning, groups of visitors fanned out across the NCI Frederick campus. Most weren’t scientists—not yet, at least. Still, they entered laboratories and work areas, though it quickly became apparent that some were barely tall enough to see over the lab countertops. That didn’t stop them from trying.
A new drug and vaccine delivery method that utilizes synthetic bacterial nanoparticles could improve chemotherapy treatments, and a groundbreaking alternative to drilled wells may soon be breaking ground in agricultural areas. The Federal Laboratory Education Accelerator and the work of Master of Business Administration students across the country are helping move these and other far-ranging technologies out of the laboratory and into the market.
A hawk circles high above NCI Frederick. A blackbird hops along a steam pipe, its talons clicking on the metal. Sparrows flit from tree to tree. Geese are gathered on the grass. Birds are regular visitors to NCI Frederick, and thanks to a months-long project, some now have a better chance to make the campus their home this spring.
Frederick National Laboratory’s Academic Summer Trainees Program provides graduate and undergraduate students with the chance to work with and learn from some of the nation’s leading scientists. The program now includes students from several Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and offers them increased access to advanced research and training, along with experience in biomedical programs, cancer research, and state-of-the-art technologies at FNL.
’Tis the season for traditions and familiar customs. At NCI Frederick—and within the federal government at large—you’ll find one that isn’t mixed in with decorations but more likely nestled somewhere in your email inbox. This tradition is the Combined Federal Campaign, the government’s official nonprofit charity initiative, held from September to January every year.
Mark Twain once said that the secret to getting ahead is getting started. A group of Frederick High School (FHS) students clearly took that advice to heart when they jumped at the chance to learn more about careers in science, including the Werner H. Kirsten Student Internship Program at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) at Frederick and Frederick National Laboratory (FNL).
To say Cathy Cullen’s “lab” in Building 427 is nontraditional would be a bit of an understatement. Instead of pipettes, there are pipe cleaners. The chemical reactants are baking soda and lemon juice. And the “animal” is a blue plastic robotic mouse. Cullen’s operation is the epicenter of Education Outreach Services in the Office of Scientific Operations for NCI at Frederick. She is tasked with bringing extracurricular science to young people in Frederick County Public Schools and organizations such as the Boys & Girls Club of Frederick County and the Housing Authority of the City of Frederick.
Nearly two decades ago, NIH’s first female director formed a task force to evaluate the status of women scientists in the Intramural Research Program. The resulting report led to the creation of the Women Scientist Advisors, a group that counsels senior leaders in each institute and center on issues facing women in the sciences.
It’s half an hour to showtime in the spacious, sun-filled atrium. Glance upward and you can’t miss the painted five-foot-tall black paw print and the inscription “Panther Pride” along the open staircase’s tallest yellow wall. Clustered around the lobby, 20 presenters are steeling their nerves as best they can: pacing, fidgeting, rehearsing. Pressure to perform aside, it’s a decidedly casual event, evidenced by several shoelaces that need tying.
The Educational Outreach Program, known colloquially as the EOP, gives elementary and middle school students access to and experience in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields through engaging, hands-on activities such as science fairs and community events.