Julie Mangada, Ph.D., came to work at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging — the nation’s first nonprofit research facility to be focused on the connection between aging and chronic disease – to study stem cells.
“I now dedicate myself to public outreach and education by managing the institute’s new learning center and directing all of the K–12 programs,” she said.
And along with her microscope and projector, her talks often include “water bears,” or tardigrades — hardy, ubiquitous microscopic animals.
“Whether I’m lecturing to a kindergarten class or a group of Rotarians, the instant I flash the lumbering little bears on the wide screen from my video camera-equipped microscope, the audience collectively sighs and squeals,” she said.
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR COMPANY
PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND: postdoctoral research fellow, 2007–2012, director of Patxi Pizza Learning Center and community outreach program development, 2012–present, The Buck Institute for Research on Aging
EDUCATION: associate degree, Santa Rosa Junior College, 1992; B.S., microbiology, University of New Hampshire, 2000; Ph.D., molecular medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School, 2007.
STAFF: 14 *all volunteers, retired members of our community, half of which have been with me over seven years, since I began building outreach programs. My administrator, attorney Mary Elsbree, is also a volunteer. None of our programs would be possible without her.
The Buck Institute is the nation’s first nonprofit research facility focused solely on understanding the connection between aging and chronic disease. Our mission is to extend the healthy years of life through research and education. Having joined the Buck as a research scientist I spent six years studying stem cells.
Concomitantly, I created outreach programs to bring our science out of the lab and into the community. I now dedicate myself to public outreach and education by managing the institute’s new Learning Center and directing all of the K-12 programs. K-gray actually, because we are never too old to learn! With a staff of volunteers, I forged collaboration with UCSF and every October the Buck Institute hosts the North Bay Science Discovery Day at the Santa Rosa Fairgrounds; an event that draws 20,000 people to an exciting hands-on experience designed to showcase the science going on in our own communities. Through our efforts at the Buck, it is estimated we bring science education and inspiration to over 100,000 people each year.
MAJOR ACCOMPLISHMENT IN THE PAST YEAR
I spearheaded an initiative with both Sonoma and Marin Offices of Education to empower local schoolteachers to build stem cell science into their lesson plans for the coming year, and help students of all ages understand the connection between aging and disease at the cellular level. The program focused on the development of Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)-compatible inquiry-based science lessons.
Called STEAM ENGINE (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics Engaging Imagination and Nurturing Excitement) it created opportunity for scientists here at the Buck to share their research and scientific creativity with local teachers.
This collaboration engaged BOTH communities to bring 21st century science skills to the classroom. With the inaugural year a big success we are currently working on expanding the breadth and scope of STEAM ENGINE for the coming years!
WHAT IS THE ACHIEVEMENT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
My son! I’m glad I took the time to make him. Professionally? Being the founder of the North Bay Science Discovery Day (northbayscience.org), a grass roots effort staffed entirely by volunteers. Conceived in 2010 through my collaboration with UCSF and their Bay Area Science Festival, the North Bay Science Discovery Day is an ambitious collaborative public education initiative that brings together local schools as well as scientific, corporate, and non-profit institutions to showcase the science and innovation happening in our own north bay community.