Skype a Scientist!

On Monday, December 10th at 10:50 eighth grade science students participated in a program called Skype a Scientist.
Skype a Scientist matches scientists with classrooms around the world! Mr. McElroy's class was matched with Grace Mosley, a scientist from the Department of Orthopedics at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. A musculoskeletal biologist and neuroscientist whose current graduate school research focuses on lower back pain and how the nerves that cause the pain differ between males and females, she Skyped into the classroom to discuss her research and what it is like to be a scientist.

Our students had many great questions for Grace, and she had great answers.  Here are some of them:

What made you interested in science when you were younger?
Bill Nye and Crocodile Hunter.

What courses did you take to get to where you are now?
In high school she took Biology, Chemistry and Physics. In college was able to take more electives and she began to focus on taking Neuroscience courses.

Who inspired you to become a scientist?
Her teachers in high school and college, as well as her mother, who is a nurse, so she was always interested in Science.

What is it like being a grad student?
It can be stressful at times but also fun and exciting because she is doing research about a real-world problem. In her program, she completes two years of medical school to be an orthopedic., and then two years of research under a doctor, followed by another two years of medical school.

What is the most important thing that you learned about in middle school science?
Experimental design and the scientific method.

What type of math do you use in your experiment?
Grace used Algebra and Statistics but engineers in her lab use Calculus.

What is her favorite animal?
The octopus, because its nervous system has about 500,000,000 neurons, with two-thirds of their neurons are located in its arms.

When working with the spinal cords of rats, how do you determine that your rats are in pain, since you can't ask them?
We observe their behavior before and after surgery to determine if a rat is in pain.

Why do you use rats as your specimens?
Rats anatomy is close to the human anatomy. All researchers using animals must first write up and submit a protocol that outlines what they will do with the rats, ensure that they are being humane to the animals they are testing, and specify the number of rants they will use.

Why did you choose to go into research about back pain and not the brain?
With the current Opioid epidemic and increase in chronic back pain. she wanted to focus research on pain management and what causes the breakdown of the spine.

What impact do you see your research having?
There is no clear surgical fix for back pain right now but with our research we are looking to determine the best ways to limit chronic back pain by determining early warning signs so that pain medications are not always needed.