2019 Student Leadership Award – Hannah Yoder
Oct 29

2019 Student Leadership Award – Hannah Yoder


Hannah Yoder: Both my parents are biologists, so science has kind of always been a big part of my life. But my mom was also really interested in art and really kind of encouraged me to draw and paint because I loved to do that from a very young age as well.

Art can be so much more than just recreating something or just creating something for aesthetic value, but to have a purpose or to have meaning or to use it to inspire others. I was doing my independent research project at North Carolina State University. Part of my experiments was to stain cells to be imaged under the microscope.

I realized that they were not only really significant for a better understanding of the implications of my research but were also just really beautiful. The different multi-colored neurons almost reminded me of like a pointless painting that you’d see in a museum. I thought that maybe creating a coloring book utilizing the art to enhance the science would be a good way to increase public interest. The idea is that they get to sort of color it but then they also get to see the inspiration behind it and also learn a little bit more about what real research is like and a little bit more about cell biology as well. I presented my research at science fairs. I almost sort of feel this responsibility to be able to use those resources and those opportunities that I’ve had in order to help other students.

Jessica Howington: As she has done research, as she has been exposed to more types of science, I think that that has kind of naturally inspired her and driven her to want to expose this thing that she loves to others. And she’s done that by starting our science fair club.

Mwenda Kudumu:  The science fair club isn’t just about getting kids to do science fair projects, it’s about getting them into labs and doing research as well. So she talks about her experience working in a lab and the type of things to apply for and when the due dates were and don’t worry, I’ll help you if you need help and that kind of thing. That was really encouraging, so we had more kids applying for scholarships, applying for internships and stuff like that because she was working with them to do that.

Howington:  She still finds things that excite her. I think that that is the mark of a true scientist. That no matter what branch of science you’re looking at, no matter what part of the world you’re looking at, you still have questions about ‘how does this work? I want to dig deeper until I figure out how this works.’

Kudumu: For Hannah, I think whatever it is she does, she will be the type of person in her adult years that will show other people how she did what she did. She’ll be like ‘Oh, yeah, there’s no secret to it. Come and do this, let me show you.’