Spreading the Science

SysBio student Adrian Jinich helps lead outreach efforts in Mexico

SysBio student Adrian Jinich helps lead outreach efforts in Mexico.

When gsas students from mexico get together, says Rogelio Hernandez-Lopez, a PhD candidate in chemical physics, the conversation always seems to come around to the same topic. “We always end up talking about what we can do for Mexico.” One such conversation happened this July, at the apartment of Adrian Jinich, a systems biology PhD student. When he was a master’s candidate at the Center for Mathematical Research in Guanajuato, Jinich had organized informal science outreach programs for local high school students, leading Saturday workshops and inviting professors to give presentations. “I always had really great science teachers,” Jinich says, “so I wanted to help give some of that back.” The informal talks were soon formalized as the Clubes de Ciencia Mexico, a nonprofit organization that sponsored talks and workshops across the country. Reflecting on the success of this venture,Jinich asked himself whether it might be continued and expanded by using instructors who were PhD students at Harvard.

This January, Jinich and 6 other graduate students and postdocs at Harvard traveled to Mexico — along with 6 more graduate students and postdocs from other elite universities — for the debut of what Jinich hopes will become a recurring program of science education and an enduring exchange between Harvard and Mexico. Over three weeks, they will teach high school and undergraduate students course modules of their own design, on subjects drawn from their own graduate research. Topics being explored this pilot year include rooftop gardens, the physics of waves, and “how a worm thinks.”