Biologists rely on computer coders more every day. The Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) DNA Learning Center (DNALC) and Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE) want to be sure those coders include all types of people. The two organizations run computer science programs for middle and high school students. Shaina Lu and Julia Wang, both WiSE Coding Camp instructors, along with Jason Williams, assistant director of External Collaborations at the DNALC, discussed their personal journeys into the world of computer science during a LIVE At the Lab: Education Innovators webinar conducted on April 28, 2021.
They spoke about the importance of inclusivity in coding education, why computer scientists are collaborating with biologists in research, and how to introduce people of all ages into the world of coding.
Lu and Wang are both Ph.D. candidates studying neuroscience at the CSHL School of Biological Sciences. Lu, a fifth-year student, has been involved with WiSE for several years. Wang, a second-year student, started volunteering for the WiSE Coding Camp in 2020. Williams has been at CSHL for over 15 years. He specializes in teaching bioinformatics and data-driven science to a variety of learners.
WiSE at CSHL was founded in 2015. The organization offers a platform for women in the scientific community and throughout Long Island. They provide women scientists with mentorship, career planning, networking, and educational opportunities, as well as educate aspiring scientists through community outreach initiatives.
Started in 1988, the DNALC is the world’s first science center devoted to public genetics education. It is the largest provider of biotechnology education at the pre-college level in the country and offers public programs, including summer camps and Saturday DNA! sessions. The DNALC also provides school programs, supports student research, and offers educator training.