High school science festival greets faculty contingent

By Kristen Holland Shear


Outside the confines of UT Southwestern, scientists have a pretty big image problem. Ask children what a scientist looks like, and they’ll likely describe a cave-dwelling intellectual with bright white hair, glasses and a spotless lab coat.

More than a dozen UT Southwestern faculty members recently sought to rectify that image by participating in Highland Park High School’s fourth annual science festival. The daylong event featured 48 professionals representing careers in everything from research and technology to medicine, engineering and science.

The 16 speakers from UT Southwestern included specialists in fields such as psychiatry, neurosurgery, hospice care, surgical oncology and prosthetics/orthotics. Nobel laureate Dr. Alfred Gilman, professor emeritus of pharmacology, spoke at the National Science Honor Society’s induction ceremony.

Carol Scherbak, director of the radiation therapy program and a two-time particiant in the festival, called it a great way to expose students to careers in medicine that they might not have known about.

“I enjoy passing along information about the field of radiation therapy,” Ms. Scherbak said. “Our field is unique in that we have a great deal of patient interaction, plus we use technologically advanced equipment and methodology that appeals to the computer-savvy students in high school and college.

“I also find it challenging to present my information to an audience that has no experience in this field. It helps me stretch and strengthen my teaching skills.”

Dr. Graham Emslie, professor of psychiatry, said he took part because “I thought it would be interesting to try and educate the students by giving them an age-appropriate overview of mental illness. I also wanted to talk about neuroscience as an interesting and compelling field of study.”

Dr. David Euhus, professor of surgical oncology, said it was a pleasure to give the students a glimpse into his world. “I may have scared most of them off, but maybe someone said, ‘Yeah, I would like to do that,’ ” he said.

Other UT Southwestern participants included Rebecca DesPlas, assistant professor of medical laboratory sciences; Dr. Fabrice Jotterand, assistant professor of clinical sciences and psychiatry; Mike Levy, faculty associate in neurological surgery; Dr. Elizabeth Maher, associate professor of internal medicine and neurology; Dr. John McClay, associate professor of otolaryngology; Dr. Tamara McGregor Pride, assistant professor of family and community medicine; Dr. Matthew Porteus, assistant professor of pediatrics and biochemistry; Dr. Karl Rathjen, associate professor of orthopaedic surgery; Monica Schmeider, a recent graduate of the prosthetics/orthotics program; Dr. Daniel Scott, associate professor of surgery; Nathan Sutti, a visiting researcher in health care sciences; Dr. Robert Walker, professor emeritus of surgery; and Dr. Arthur Westover, assistant professor of psychiatry.

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br /> Dr. Emslie holds the Charles E. and Sarah M. Seay Chair in Child Psychiatry. Dr. Euhus is co-director of the Mary L. Brown Breast Cancer Genetics and Risk Assessment Program and holds the Marilyn R. Corrigan Distinguished Chair in Breast Cancer Surgery.