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Mentor a SMART Team – Dr. Bienengraeber’s Experience

Mentor a SMART Team – Dr. Bienengraeber’s Experience

The MSOE SMART (Students Modeling A Research Topic) Teams program is currently recruiting mentors. Mentors can be graduate students, postdocs, research associates or faculty members. The program provides researchers with an opportunity to connect with the education community in a fun and exciting way. Researchers can share their passion for science with high school students, and engage the student in an exploration of a specific topic, without needing to provide time, space and resources for a student to come into the lab. Mentors need to have a research project that has a specific protein of interest, and the protein has to have a determined structure (deposited within the Protein Data Bank). SMART Team mentors do not need to be crystallography experts. They do need to have a protein that is of interest to them and a willingness to work with high school students to get the team to understand the project.“Have fun with it, enjoy it. Take advantage of the already existing student/teacher teams, go along with their pace, enjoy what they are doing and enjoy their enthusiasm.”

– Martin Bienengraeber, PhD, Assistant Professor, MCW and SMART Team Mentor


Dr. Martin Bienengraeber, an Assistant Professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin, recently mentored a SMART Team from Brookfield Central. As a mentor Dr. Bienengraeber chose a protein for the project and spent a few hours every week with the students and their teacher (in addition to email communication). He helped them understand the science/protein and prepare for a poster session and oral presentations. He considered the time he committed well spent, fun and in the end, a mutual gain for himself and the Team. Dr. Bienengraeber appreciated seeing the enthusiasm and excitement from the students when they understood scientific meanings and saw what they learned in school actually applied in the lab. He thinks SMART Teams are a great way to communicate science outside of the institution, to teach the community about science and to show them that they do not have to be afraid of it. Some advice Dr. Bienengraeber offers to future mentors, “Have fun with it, enjoy it. Take advantage of the already existing student/teacher teams, go along with their pace, enjoy what they are doing and enjoy their enthusiasm. Keep the communication going – email can work, but visiting is better.”

SMART Teams is a science education enrichment program developed by the Center for BioMolecular Modeling at the Milwaukee School of Engineering that combines science and 3-dimensional printing technology. The SMART Team program is designed to engage students in the “real world of science”. By bringing students together with a research scientist to explore a particular topic in depth, this program permits them to see science as it is done in a laboratory. In addition to building a model, students develop a poster and an oral presentation explaining the “molecular story” of their particular protein. The SMART Teams program is part of the Education and Training and the Community Engagement Program of CTSI.

If you are interested in mentoring a SMART Team, contact Shannon Colton, PhD at (414) 277-2824 or colton@msoe.edu.

NIH Funding Acknowledgment: Important Reminder – Please acknowledge the NIH when publishing papers, patents, projects, and presentations resulting from the use of CTSI resources by including the NIH Funding Acknowledgement.


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