Immersive Learning Awaits

Interdisciplinary Scientific Immersion at Washington University in St. Louis provides incoming Roy and Diana Vagelos Division of Biology and Biomedical graduate students with an immersive experience to interdisciplinary research. This comprehensive 3-week experience is designed to introduce incoming graduate students to the world of scientific research through experiential learning. Led by faculty facilitators and senior students, participants spend two weeks exploring distinct research topics and one week building on science communication along with other essential skills. The program occurs at the start of a student’s time at Washington University in St. Louis and offers students invaluable preparation for the academic journey ahead. 

Students were able to…

Explore several research topics, guided by faculty facilitators and senior students

Develop ideas for future research questions

Learn to read scientific papers and analyze conclusions critically

Gain preparation for the future requirements, like discussions, grant writing, qualifying exams, conference presentations, and thesis proposals

Create a one-page document (Specific Aims Page) outlining past and future research, akin to a grant proposal

100% of students reported making new friends

Post-Immersion students gained skills and confidence in key areas.

Scientific Reasoning

Bio-science Knowledge & Skills

Writing and Communications

Managing Their Self & Others

Program Overview

Interdisciplinary Scientific Immersion takes place over a three-week period at the start of the academic year in August. The first two weeks familiarize students with scientific research in graduate school, while the third week emphasizes enhancement of scientific communication skills. The program culminates with a DBBS-wide retreat that showcases student poster presentations and alumni career panels.

This immersive experience requires most of an incoming student’s weekly work hours for all three weeks of the program. Participating students will not be affiliated with a rotation lab during this time. Although it’s not for credit or graded, full participation each week is expected to maximize benefits for students and their groups.

Program Outcomes

Students were surveyed before and after the Immersion Program with a variety of questions in four main categories. The data is ordered from Pre-Immersion to Post-Immersion.

Scientific Reasoning

Bioscience Knowledge & Skills

Writing & Communications

Managing Self & Others

Communication Week

The Interdisciplinary Scientific Immersion program has introduced a new emphasis during the third and final week, shifting its focus to Scientific Communication. Students learn to communicate research ideas effectively through written and verbal means, leaving with an ability to convey scientific ideas to diverse audiences. 

Activities Include:

Written Communication: Editing exercises to improve clarity and content

Verbal Communication: Preparing short presentations and receiving feedback

Visual Communication: Creating graphical abstracts

DBBS-Wide Retreat: Concluding the week with senior student posters and Alumni Career Panels

Guest Speakers

Each year, the Interdisciplinary Scientific Immersion program hosts a distinguished keynote speaker to inspire students on various topics. The 2024 Immersion Keynote Speaker is Sara Serritella, a science communication expert, award-winning journalist, and private detective whose high-energy presentations grace the stages of global and national conferences. For students participating in Scientific Immersion, Sara’s guidance serves as an opportunity to enhance their communication skills for graduate school and beyond.

2024 Keynote Talks & Activities Include:

“Harness the Science of Storytelling to Transform Your Career & Share Your Research with Anyone”: A talk open to all DBBS students

“How to Give a Science Talk that Doesn’t Put the Public to Sleep”: A talk specifically for incoming DBBS students

Interactive Workshops: Hands-on workshops focused on topics such as writing for the public eye, building a personal researcher brand on social media, and boosting body language

Sample Schedule

(Scientific Immersion 2024)

Week One: August 5 – 9

Week Two: August 12 – 16

Week Three: August 19 – 23

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