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Current Science Seminar Series (CSSS)

The Current Science Seminar Series (CSSS) brought San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) middle and high school teachers to the UCSF campus for interactive seminars on current research in biology led by UCSF early-career scientists. 

Not only were the seminars a good review of my understanding of these topics, but I learned how biomedical research can advance human health tremendously. With increased understanding of the details, it's still crucial to see the big picture.

- SFUSD teacher

It was great practice in trying to explain what I do to a group of interested non-scientists: figuring out what background information would be needed, how to explain why I think it’s an interesting question, and how to best illustrate what we already know.

- Scientist presenter

Every time I’ve attended a seminar, I’ve brought something back to my classroom either an activity or information.

- SFUSD teacher

I learned that scientists are constantly thinking of new hypotheses and testing them out.  They are learning and trying to find solutions through operant conditions (trial and error).  They are very detailed in their work, always asking/answering questions.

- SFUSD student

Due to funding limitations, SEP is no longer able to offer the Current Science Seminar Series.  We are actively seeking new funding sources and hope to offer a similar seminar series in the near future.  In the meantime, please visit the Daly Ralston Resource Center where DVDs of past seminars are available for check-out.


Like many of SEP’s programs, CSSS was designed to provide synergistic benefits to UCSF early-career scientists as well as to the SFUSD teachers attending the series.

Through the series, speakers had the opportunity to develop a unique seminar, one that actively engaged its audience in thinking about, discussing, and in some cases "doing" science. Moreover, each speaker received feedback on their seminar from education experts, the teachers participating in the series, to help them in preparing future presentations.

Teacher participants increased their knowledge of current advancements in biomedical research, often infusing this new knowledge into their biology curriculum, and developed connections both with teachers from other school sites and with UCSF scientists.

High school teachers were encouraged to bring up to two students from their biology classes to each of the seminars. This experience built students' familiarity with the university campus and college-level learning, developed their knowledge of current topics in biomedical research and their awareness of how scientific progress is made, and exposed them to university-level research scientist role models.

Seminars were targeted at the level of a science major (non-specialist though knowledgeable audience).

Outcomes for Teachers included:

  • sparking their interest in learning more about one or more of the seminar topics (86%)
  • conveying the dynamic nature of scientific knowledge or understanding (100%)
  • planning to read scientific or medical news/magazines/journals more than they do now (72%)
  • better understanding the science concepts that underlie the curriculum they teach in their classroom (100%)

All teachers (100%) agreed that they would recommend this series to their peers.

Participating teachers also reported benefits for their students who attended the seminars:

  • 100% of teachers strongly agreed/agreed that the participating students broadened their awareness of the dynamic nature of scientific knowledge and understanding.
  • 72% of teachers strongly agreed/agreed that having students participate along with teachers enhanced their own learning experience.

Outcomes for Scientist Presenters included :

  • having new ideas for how to translate current research to a non-research audience (100%).
  • a better understanding of how to adapt their teaching strategies to diverse populations (86%).
  • gaining new skills or enhancing their skills to effectively integrate inquiry with content in their teaching (86%).

DVDs of past seminars are available for check-out through the Daly Ralston Resource Center.

Past Speakers and Seminar Titles

Presenter Topic
Deepika Ahuja, Ph.D.

Metastasis: How cancerous cells invade other parts of the body

Mary Kate Alexander, Ph.D.

Malaria: Immune Invasion

Carol Cho

Molecular Motors Traveling the Highways of the Cell

Nancy Dumont, Ph.D.

Imaging Cancer Under the Microscope: Understanding the Pathology of Breast Cancer

Sarah Elson

Travels to the tip: RNA transport in Candida albicans filaments

Michelle Flenniken, Ph.D.

Nanotechnology for Drug Delivery

Tom Goddard

3D Virtual Reality: See, Hold and Feel Viruses

Nathan Gosse

Look up, Look down: Eye Development in Zebrafish

Sheila Jaswal, Ph.D.

Protein Folding:  Life’s Origami

Amy Kistler, Ph.D.

Viruses, Gene Chips and Disease: Using Technology to Advance Understanding of Viral Diseases

Mary Matyskiela

Cell Division: Getting Mitosis Right!

Ramsey McIntire, Ph.D.

How do you talk to your mother? Cell communication during pregnancy

Sri Nagarajan, Ph.D.

Imaging the Dynamic Brain: Learning about how we learn

Kathleen Nestor

Breast Cancer: Forces within Cells

Jon Pierce-Shimomura, Ph.D.

Drunk Worms: C. elegans and Alcohol Addiction

Sebastian Schuck, Ph.D.

Intracellular Protein Sorting: How the cell postal service works

Brad Stohr, MD/Ph.D.

How can we stop the growth of cancer cells?

Elizabeth Szyleyko

Parasites and You: Signaling Pathways in Schistosomes

Timothy Warren

How Do Songbirds Learn Their Songs?