IAmNYAS: Giovanna Collu

A Q&A with NeXXt Scholars and Afterschool STEM Mentor Giovanna Collu

IAmNYAS: Giovanna Collu

Dr. Giovanna Collu is a researcher, communicator, and mentor with a drive to encourage the next generation of scientists to overcome challenges they face in STEM fields. For the last 12 years, Giovanna has been investigating how cells communicate with each other to produce fully formed adult organisms.

Throughout her career, Giovanna has engaged with several outreach groups to promote equitable access to the benefits of STEM education. At the University of Manchester, she worked with the Manchester Access Programme to support underrepresented minority students transitioning to college, and with a Wellcome Trust-funded initiative to bring local underserved students into a university research environment to discover science first hand and participate in fun, science-based activities. Giovanna also taught on the Manchester Leadership Programme, a course that framed leadership issues in a social and ethical context for the next generation of leaders.

Here in the US, she has worked with the New York Academy of Sciences to engage middle-school pupils with forensic science in an afterschool program in Harlem, in association with Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory's DNA Learning Center. Giovanna continues to promote women in STEM through mentoring summer students and has participated in the NeXXt Scholars Program since 2013.

Why and how are STEM education and the Global STEM Alliance important to you?

Initiatives such as the Afterschool Mentoring and NeXXt Scholars Programs promote equity in STEM education, which in turn creates much-needed diversity in STEM professions. These programs are an opportunity not only to reach individual young scientists but also to make a positive impact in making society more equitable as a whole. The Academy's STEM education programs are a vital tool if we are to level the playing field for underserved communities. It is an honor to support young people from backgrounds that are currently underrepresented in STEM fields to pursue their passion and curiosity.

MENTOR

Postdoctoral Fellow
Developmental and Regenerative Biology
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
New York, NY, USA

Affiliation
NeXXt Scholars Program, Afterschool STEM Mentoring Program

Honors
Recipient of Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council PhD studentship, Medical Research Council Masters Studentship, and King’s College bursaries for undergraduate research

Degrees
PhD and MRes in Developmental Biology, University of Manchester, UK; MA and BA (Hons.) in Natural Sciences, University of Cambridge, UK

What are/were your goals for participation in the Global STEM Alliance?

My goals were to inspire individual students and to gain an understanding of the challenges faced by this generation of STEM students. Having benefited from mentoring schemes myself, I am keen to join the community of researchers encouraging younger generations to follow their curiosity and enter STEM fields.

What is the most important benefit you feel the Global STEM Alliance provides?

The Alliance gives young people from diverse backgrounds the access to mentoring that they would not otherwise have. Mentoring and exposure to positive role models are vital for realizing potential and raising aspirations in young people. By connecting young people with successful STEM professionals, the Global STEM Alliance provides a network of support for students who might otherwise feel isolated or disconnected from their discipline. The Alliance guides young people as they are finding their own path into STEM fields and reveals a whole realm of career possibilities.