NIMBioS Shares Biology & Math at USA Science & Engineering Festival

Representatives from NIMBioS and UTK's Ecology & Evolutionary Biology Department talk science and math with visitors to their exhibits at the USA Science & Engineering Festival

From top to bottom: US Capital Building; (L to R) Kelly Sturner, Jessica Bryant and Emily Austin visit with Hunter Bethea, legislative assistant to U.S. Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN); Emily Austin (L) and Jessica Bryant (R) at the Dirksen Federal Building

NIMBioS had a great time in DC last weekend exhibiting to a crowd of more than 150,000 at the USA Science and Engineering Festival. Billed as “the largest celebration of science in the USA,” special guests included “rock stars” of science and engineering from all over the country, plus the Mythbusters, Bill Nye the Science Guy, and much more. Even U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan was seen riding a robot. Kelly Sturner, NIMBioS Education & Outreach Coordinator, along with UTK Ecology & Evolutionary Biology (EEB) Department graduate students Emily Austin and Jessica Bryant and undergraduate honors biology major Sarah Wood interacted with science and math fans of all ages during the two-day event, which took up the entire exhibit floor of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Visitors to the booths sponsored by NIMBioS and EEB: “Is a Plant, A Plant, A Plant?”and “More than Mushrooms” learned about intraspecific variation in plants and how fungi aid in decomposition of organic matter.

Austin, Bryant and Sturner also visited the office of U.S. Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) to talk about NIMBioS’ and EEB’s involvement in the festival. The group spoke with Hunter Bethea, legislative assistant to Corker, about how participation in federally-supported science education and outreach programs, such as NSF research experiences for undergraduates and Department of Energy education programs, led them to pursue science careers, and now inspire them to give back through participating in science outreach.

For more information about education and outreach opportunities at NIMBioS, visit


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