Early Preparation and Inspiration for Careers in the Biomedical Sciences (EPIC)

Welcome to the website for the Early Preparation and Inspiration for Careers in the Biomedical Sciences (EPIC). This project is committed to the idea that students at the high school level need to be prepared and inspired to make informed decisions about their futures, whether they go on to college, technical school or seek employment after high school.  Our approach consists of two interventions to prepare students:

  1. Adoption of career assessment and planning tools by high school career counselors;
  2. Participation of students in the Epidemiology (Epi) Challenge intervention where students will have an authentic science research experience.

EPIC is a partnership between Penn State, five regional high schools, career planning experts, curriculum development consultants, and community stakeholders.

Early Preparation and Inspiration for Careers in the Sciences - EPIC

Welcome to the website for the Early Preparation and Inspiration for Careers in the Biomedical Sciences (EPIC). This project is committed to the idea that students at the high school level need to be prepared and inspired to make informed decisions about their futures, whether they go on to college, technical school or seek employment after high school. Our approach consists of two interventions to prepare students:

  1. Adoption of career assessment and planning tools by high school career counselors;
  2. Participation of students in the Epidemiology (Epi) Challenge intervention where students will have an authentic science research experience.

EPIC is a partnership between Penn State, five regional high schools, career planning experts, curriculum development consultants, and community stakeholders.

EPIC is committed to fostering diversity in epidemiology, public health and biomedical sciences.  Half of all student participants come from backgrounds that are under-represented in science (i.e., under-represented science minority groups).  This study is consistent with the call for the development of programs to stimulate student interest and success in STEM by the National Academy of Sciences' Committee on Underrepresented Groups and the Expansion of the Science and Engineering Workforce Pipeline.

Background

According to the National Science Foundation, the US faces a "gathering storm" due to a deficit of STEM professionals--including biomedical research (BR).  Over one-half of US high school students express a low interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers - even among students with a high proficiency.  In addition, disparities persist by gender, income and race/ethnicity among students in STEM majors who ultimately enter into biomedical research.

The EPIC Project is a partnership between Penn State University and the following Harrisburg/Hershey area high schools:

Cedar Cliff High School

John Harris High School

Lower Dauphin High School

Middletown Area High School
Sci Tech High School

 

  • Cintia Vazquez and Estefania Ledesma (SciTech High) from the Penn State Epi Challenge program both won 2nd place in senior division of the behavioral sciences category at the 58th annual Capital Area Science and Engineering Fair (CASEF) held at the Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts on March 18 – 20, 2015.
  • Middletown Area High School Pathway Partner Breakfast (October 16, 2015) , sponsored by the Blue and Gold Club, presented the Penn State Epidemiology Challenge by highlighting the Epi Challenge Posters presented by the students at the Epidemiology Challenge GALA Celebration (June 19, 2015).
  • EPI Challenge Cohort Newsletter

Past Events

February 25, 2016 - Students from Cedar Cliff High School, Middletown Area High School, and SciTech High School showcased their research at the 59th annual Capital Area Science and Engineering Fair (CASEF) as part of Penn State University’s year-long Epidemiology Challenge.

The six teams from Cedar Cliff High School claimed two 2nd Place Awards, two 3rd Place Awards, and two Honorable Mentions; all three teams from Middletown Area High School received 3rd Place Awards; and the two teams from Sci Tech High School received one 3rd Place Award and one Honorable Mention.  Two of the Sci Tech mentors who participated in last year’s Epi Challenge also competed, and won 1st Place and 3rd Place awards for their efforts.

Each team of students gave a brief presentation to several category judges, and answered interview questions about their research study design, survey collection methods, and results, as well as the implications that their findings have for the field of epidemiology.  The fair took place at the Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts on Market St. in Harrisburg.”

February 25-26, 2016

Epi Challenge Cohort 2 students will present their final poster projects at the Capital Area Science and Engineering Fair held each year at the Whitaker Center for the Science and the Arts in downtown Harrisburg.

October 2015

Penn State Epidemiology Challenge Cohort 2 Research Symposium, Edward P. Junker Auditorium, Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

June 19, 2015

Epi Challenge June 19, 2015, State Museum

Close to 90 students from five local high schools, including Cedar Cliff, John Harris, Lower Dauphin, SciTech and Middletown, attended the Epidemiology Challenge ("Epi Challenge") Gala event at the PA State Museum to celebrate the completion of their year-long team-based projects in Epidemiology. Students designed their own research projects and worked in teams of two to five students in order to investigate health-related hypotheses. Some examples of projects include: teen sleep patterns and use of electronic devices; physical activity and academic achievement; as well as outcomes related to teen depression and risky behavior. Oral and poster presentations were made at the celebration attended by family, friends, public health and medical professionals, as well as community stakeholders.

Started June 23-27, 2014 at the Penn State Hershey Campus

Overall Goal:  Teams of high school students from each school will participate in the Think Like an Epidemiologist Challenge or "Epi Challenge." The Epi Challenge is guided by project-based learning (PBL) strategies to engage students in addressing challenging questions with student-driven, authentic inquiry practices.

Why Epidemiology?

Epidemiologist are often called disease detectives and are investigators who study the occurrence of health-related outcomes in populations for the purpose of preventing or controlling health problems.  Students in this program will develop skills to think like an epidemiologist.

Robin Taylor

Robin Taylor Wilson, Ph.D., Project Director

Mark Kaelin

Mark Kaelin, Ed.D., Project Consultant

Wendy Huebner

Wendy Huebner Ph.D., Project Consultant

Robin Perry-Smith

Robin Perry-Smith, MHA, Project Manager

Craig

Shwetha Srikanth, MS Data Manager

Andrea

Andrea Stennett, BA, Graduate Coach

Allison

Allison Blumling, Research Assistant

EPI Challenge Graduate Coaches

Christopher Kroft, Ed.D student


Sherrie

Sherrie Laporta, M.Ed. student

Watson

Emma Watson, MPH

EPIC Steering Committee

Cedar Cliff 

  • Jenn Fasick, Assistant Principal
  • Audrey Plassio, Biology, Science Department Chair
  • Jody McClymont, Science
  • Jessie Gray, Counselor
  • Sara Goodman, Biology

Harrisburg 

John Harris Campus

  • Jennifer Jenkins, Principal
  • Jamal Wells, Counselor

SciTech Campus

  • Sieta Achampong, Principal
  • Sunada Roberts, Science

Lower Dauphin

  • Todd Neuhard, Principal
  • Steff Chortanoff, Gifted Teacher
  • Lori Beaver, Counselor
  • Dawn Koons, Science

Middletown Area

  • Michael Carnes, Principal
  • Terri O'Neil, Science and Health
  • Cheryl Friedman, Guidance Department Chair

National Institutes of Health Penn State College of Medicine, Publilc Health Sciences
Public Health Sciences
   
The Foundation for Enhancing Communities Penn State Cancer Institute
   
Members First Federal Credit Union Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center
   

Penn State Office of Diversity

Penn State Hershey Diversity


LB Smith Lincoln Sponsorship
   
The Blue and Gold Club Sponsorship Penn State logo
   
Middletown Area School District Sponsorship

Middletown Area Education Association

MAEA

   

Penn State Campus Council on Diversity

Penn State Hershey Campus Council on Diversity Sponsorship

Pennsylvania Department of Education

 

   
Middletown Area Alumni Association

Cedar Cliff Blue Colts

Cedar Cliff Blue Colts

 

For EPIC Program and Website Inquiries

Robin Perry Smith Robin Perry-Smith, MHA, Project Manager
Penn State College of Medicine
Department of Public Health Sciences
500 University Drive, CH 69
Hershey, PA  17033
717-531-4387

 

For EPIC Grant Inquires

Robin Taylor Wilson Robin Taylor Wilson, Ph.D., Project Director
Penn State College of Medicine
Department of Public Health Sciences
500 University Drive, CH 69
Hershey, PA  17033
717-531-7178