Posted By: Evelyn Mantegani, Senior Specialist, Marketing and Communications, ASHG
ASHG envisions a future with an informed public that continues to understand basic genetic concepts, receives equitable access to genetic information, and understands and appreciates humanity’s diversity. With this in mind, the Society exhibited at SciFest All Access with the goal of increasing awareness of ASHG and its resources, as well as connecting with a larger public community. This event is the virtual version of the USA Science and Engineering Festival, which when held in person, welcomes hundreds of thousands of STEM students, their teachers, and parents. The Society was originally prepared to attend the live event and had created staff t-shirts, recruited member volunteers, collaborated with another association, and was even prepared to host a photo booth. As the event was scheduled to happen on April 25, it rightly moved to be hosted virtually due to the global pandemic. No matter, ASHG pivoted its content to be available for virtual consumption.
Attendees expect to be welcomed and wowed by the exhibits, speeches, and experiment demonstrations at the in-person USA Science and Engineering Festival. Expectations for the virtual SciFest All Access were no exception. ASHG was ready with resources for the 64,000 attendees. Members of the Public Education and Awareness Committee (PEAC) teamed up with ASHG staff to answer chat message questions from attendees and share ASHG’s resources. The Society’s booth resources included background information about the organization, such as who we are and what ASHG and our members do. In addition, ASHG shared resources for STEM students to pursue their interests, including Discover Genetics, the DNA Day Essay Contest, the GENE Network, and 6 Things Everyone Should Know about Genetics. PEAC members met attendees with enthusiasm and encouragement to pursue their scientific interests. They answered questions which ranged from inheriting conditions to research and career advice. Despite originally being scheduled for the first week in October, SciFest All Access received such positive feedback from attendees that it was extended to the whole month of October. ASHG was thrilled to have increased connection with this important audience.
SciFest All Access was an exciting and meaningful event to connect with the next generation of scientists and bring more attention to human genetics and genomics research and its benefits. Whether held virtually or in-person in the future, the Society looks forward to continuing its participation in this event!