Meet Regina Wu, a Seattle-based biologist who works to bring science to classrooms across Washington state.
What do you do? I’m a curriculum designer and educator at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. I partner with teachers and scientists to translate groundbreaking research into labs and lessons for the classroom. As a program manager for the Hutch’s science education partnership, I work with a dedicated team that supplies over 200 biology and biotech teachers with free resources and equipment to use in their classrooms through our kit loan program.
When I’m not at Fred Hutch, I tinker and teach at SoundBio Lab, a nonprofit biology makerspace in Seattle that I helped co-found. We offer open access to biology to educate enthusiasts and have fun with science.
How did you get started in that field? When I was in high school, I had a fantastic biology teacher, Mrs. Epperson. I loved that she was passionate about science. It was in her class that I learned about the systems and networks that go on in our bodies and the universe within our cells. It really captured my imagination, and I knew I wanted to make a career out of it.
What’s a typical day like? It depends on the season. In July, I work with an phenomenal group of educators to figure out how to bring biotechnology and molecular concepts, like the ones used in Hutch labs, into their classroom. In August, I get to teach high school students how to think like scientists while doing work in our training lab space. Once the school year begins, I’m usually on the phone troubleshooting with teachers or at the bench, testing labs and protocols to be used in the classroom.
What surprises people about what you do? I usually get looks when I tell people that I’m helping to teach high schoolers synthetic biology or having 10th graders use CRISPR-cas9 (a genome editing tool) to learn about genetic engineering. Kids are amazing; I’m constantly astounded by what a student is capable of when given access to the right mentors and the right technology.
What’s the best part of the job? Creative collaboration, which is just another term for geeking out with a goal.
Every day, I get to bounce ideas around with co-workers, researchers, teachers and science enthusiasts. I get to work with teachers who turn their biology classrooms into a biotech escape room and design projects where students develop and pitch ideas for cheap vaccine delivery systems in low-resource settings. Through all my work, I get to meet people who are doing amazing things within their fields.