Dr. Lewis talks about his High School Alliance experience

by Chuck Brown, UNMC public relations | February 23, 2011

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Rob Lewis, Ph.D.
Last fall, UNMC welcomed 36 high school students from the Omaha area to campus as part of the inaugural UNMC High School Alliance class.

The students have since done research in UNMC labs, witnessed the delivery of a cancer diagnosis, worked with cadavers in the gross anatomy lab, shadowed health care professionals and participated in several other activities.

The alliance, which is designed to help students take their first steps toward health care careers, functions thanks to the efforts of UNMC faculty and staff members who give their time to teach the students.

Tomorrow -- Ashlie Nelson

UNMC Today will feature an interview with Ashlie Nelson, an Omaha Public Schools employee and alliance teacher who plays a vital role in the program.

One of those who worked with the alliance students was Rob Lewis, Ph.D., professor in the Eppley Institute, who organized an instructional session on cancer and gave a pair of lectures.

Below, Dr. Lewis talks about his experience with the alliance.


What has stood out for you as you worked with the students in the high school alliance?

I was impressed by how many questions they asked and what excellent questions they were. It was clear that they were engaged and thoughtful.

Applicants sought

Know of a student who would be a good fit for the UNMC High School Alliance? Have him or her apply at the alliance website. Applications are being accepted through March 4.

What was the main thing you wanted the students to take home from your work with them?

I made one main point. They can look at cancer -- and every other aspect of heath and disease -- as resulting from some combination of genetic and environmental influences. Genes and environment explain everything.

What would you tell another faculty member who was considering becoming active in the alliance?

The experience was surprisingly rewarding. The most difficult task was determining the level of sophistication and the amount of material to present so that it was understandable yet interesting.

Describe a particularly memorable experience you had working with the alliance students.

My most memorable experience stemmed from a question asked by a student that would have been extremely insightful for a faculty member, let alone a high school student. I remember wishing I could get that student to come work in my lab.

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