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March 12, 2012 - USA Physiology Department Participates in Community Outreach
The physiology department at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine recently participated in an outreach project at Palmer Pillans Middle School in Mobile.

Three graduate students from the USA Basic Medical Sciences Graduate Program – Kendra Reed, Michael Francis, and Patricia Villata – along with three faculty members from the physiology department – Drs. Mark Taylor, David Weber, and Tom Lincoln – met with the 7th grade life sciences classes.

According to Dr. Tom Lincoln, chair of physiology, the group talked to the students about various organ systems – skeletal, muscular, cardiovascular, respiratory, digestive, and reproductive.

“Mostly we supplemented what they learned from their teacher and provided a show-and-tell for the students,” Dr. Lincoln said. “We brought in a pig heart for the students to examine, and we all answered their questions about science.”

The physiology department first became involved with this project when Palmer Pillans Middle School teacher Tessa Brown contacted Dr. Lincoln about expanding classroom activities by having scientists visit the students.

Dr. Lincoln hopes the outreach project will encourage secondary school students to have a better appreciation of science.

“The students were very engaged and asked lots of good questions,” Dr. Lincoln said. “This is a very important activity that we undertook because it is important for all of us - students and faculty alike - to be involved in our community.”

According to Francis, a graduate student and Ph.D. candidate in the physiology department at the USA College of Medicine, the goal of this outreach project was to help foster the development of the next generation of scientists.

“We have the opportunity to encourage interest in scientific education and careers and to address misconceptions about the public image of science,” said Francis. “As a graduate student, experiencing these students' enthusiasm for problem solving helps keep me in touch with the motivation that first inspired me to pursue this career path.”

Francis said the department is planning to continue outreach projects by participating in Career Day at Grand Bay Middle School on March 30, 2012.

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