Dr. Kathleen Gillespie, Baltimore Scientist, Poet and STEM Advocate,Talks Art and Science on WYPR-AM

On January 4 on Baltimore NPR affiliate WYPR-AM, Dr. Kathleen "Kate" Gillespie explores how she balances a marine biotechnology career with a passion for mentoring urban youth on STEM and STEAM and also penning poetry, short stories and short plays.
By: Dr. Kathleen Gillespie
Dr Kathleen Gillespie, Baltimore microbiologist, poet, and STEM advocate
Dr Kathleen Gillespie, Baltimore microbiologist, poet, and STEM advocate
BALTIMORE - Jan. 4, 2018 - PRLog -- Biologist and poet Dr. Kathleen "Kate" Gillespie, PhD, a STEM and STEAM advocate who is currently a research affiliate at Baltimore's Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology (IMET), will be a featured guest on WYPR Radio's Humanities Connection on January 4 at 4:44 pm to discuss the impact of science on her poetry and finding the poetry in science.

"Inspiration is a key tool in the arts and in the pursuit of scientific discovery," said Dr. Gillespie.   "The ability to communicate science is best accomplished by telling a story that will bring context and to comprehension to a scientific principle."

For over 10 years, she has volunteered to engage Maryland students in learning complex principles of biotechnology and microbiology. At Baltimore Underground Science Space, a community science group that supports and mentors students in iGEM program, she worked with students in solving scientific problems using synthetic biology—including plastic degrading bacteria for cleanup of bottles in Baltimore Harbor. She helped students from third graders to undergraduates learn about biotechnology through lectures and labs at Towson University's SciTech program. For A Bridge to Academic Excellence (ABAE) at the University of Maryland, she participated with pharmacy students mentoring high school students.

"Science is influencing the face of our society on a global scale because of the huge scope of the problems humanity faces--from emerging disease to climate change," she said. "I find that initially children are excited about STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) but quickly become discouraged because they are not having a good grasp of the science and math concepts. Integrating an art component into STEM through STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) can open new avenues of creative thought and inspiration that will ultimately bring new perspectives to the students learning STEM disciplines."

Despite the tendency to separate STEM from humanities, arts and science have a closer bond. As a STEAM proponent, Dr. Gillespie, has etched out a reputation in Baltimore's literary and theatre community as Kate Gillespie, published poet, short story writer and playwright.  Her poetry has been published in Gargoyle Magazine, Silver Blade Magazine, The Baltimore Ekphrasis Project and SyzygyJournal. Short stories have been published in The Baltimore Urbanite Magazine and Writers and Words. Her plays have been staged at Baltimore's One Minute Play Festival at EMP collective and Glass Mind Theater. She's a Writer in Residence at Renaissance House Writer's Retreat in Martha's Vineyard and has been featured in arts stories in the Asbury Park Press, Martha's Vineyard Gazette and on Baltimore's WJZ-TV conducting a reading a Baltimore Poetry in the Park.

"In the throes of completing my doctoral degree, I used the outlet of creative writing as a stress reliever. In truth I have always been literary. I started reading when I was four years old, and as an undergraduate at Rutgers, I was a top student in my literature courses and had enough credits to minor in English," she explained. "It was attending the writing workshops in Baltimore that acted as my catalyst to submit my poetry and creative nonfiction."

As a scientist, her expertise encompasses the disciplines of molecular biology, microbiology, genetics, and bioinformatics. She holds both a masters in biology and a doctorate in Marine Biotechnology from the University of Maryland and a BS from Rutgers University. She also studied for two years at the University of Lund in Sweden.  Her career spans working as a bio-process research associate in drug discovery at Merck, technical support specialist at Becton Dickinson Bioscience, and lab researcher in single molecule detection for biodefence at US Genomics.

"I have met Black and Hispanic students who have never given any thought as to how science was relevant to them. They got excited over video games and videos but didn't think they could ever create anything with science themselves," she explained. "As a Black woman in the sciences, I find my personal brand of diversity to be the least seen. Because of this, I have made a point to go out and interact with science based youth program to SHOW not tell them that they too can be a player in the world of STEM and STEAM."

Humanities Connection is produced by Maryland Humanities. It will air on WYPR, Baltimore's NPR affiliate and can be heard on Maryland public radio stations other stations: WYPF, 88.1 FM, Frederick and WYPO, 106.9 FM, Ocean City. The link is: http://www.wypr.org

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