Miami Project Researchers Inspire Future Scientists at Annual STEM Expo

Two researchers from The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis — Director of Education Kim Anderson-Erisman, Ph.D., and Coleen M. Atkins, Ph.D., both associate professors of neurological surgery — inspired students interested in science and engineering careers at the Miami-Dade County Public Schools’ 63rd Annual South Florida Regional Science and Engineering Fair on February 4.

The annual Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Expo is a gathering of Miami-Dade County’s most creative, intelligent, and resourceful K-12 students, who compete and demonstrate their prowess in STEM activities. The organizers estimate that 20,000 people attended this year’s Expo.

Anderson-Erisman and Atkins captivated the attention of children and their parents by teaching them about neuroscience in a mini brain fair setting.

Atkins’ exhibit included lessons she and her two daughters taught about the pathology in the brain after traumatic brain injury. She also presented information about how animal brains are different and similar, and why differences in brain size and shape influence intelligence.

Anderson-Erisman and her team (Maria Chagoyen, Danielle Cilien, Katie Gant, Ph.D., Crystal Noller, Ph.D., Megan Marlow, Suhmedh Shah and Deena Cilien) taught the students about spinal cord research being conducted at The Miami Project. Their presentation included how the spinal cord interacts with the brain and controls the body, and how researchers study spinal cord injury and repair the spinal cord to restore function.

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