Meet Bryan Vought, Ph.D., one of our scientists who is passionate about science education. Bryan has been a driving force in our science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) activities, which include a recent collaboration with Boston Public Schools (BPS) at two local high schools in South Boston.
When Bryan joined our team six years ago after completing his post-doc work at Harvard Medical School, he already had a strong background in science education. As an undergraduate, he started a student group that visited local elementary schools and conducted experiments using materials available at the grocery store. His vision of accessible, fun and safe science for kids caught on, and at Vertex, Bryan was able to showcase similar experiments at the Cambridge Science Festival, using kid-friendly themes like Chemistry in Our Backyard and Sorcery and Chemistry.
Bryan is motivated to make a difference in STEM education because he believes that science develops critical thinking skills necessary for students to understand the increasingly technologically complex world in which we live. One of the challenges to this is that many of the students Bryan has encountered have learned not to like science because their classes focus on memorizing content instead of doing science and becoming involved in the ideas. To help close this gap, we dedicated a 3,000 square foot learning lab at our new South Boston headquarters that will be available for use by BPS and local community groups, allowing students and teachers to conduct scientific projects alongside our scientists.
Bryan also believes that showing kids a path to success through science is another critical component of STEM education. Providing opportunities for students to interact with scientists and others who work within the life sciences makes the profession seem “more real,” and for some, it could be their only chance to learn first hand about the benefits of a career in science. We recognize the important difference that mentoring can make in a student’s life, and we offer high school and college internships across our business as well as other informal opportunities for students to interact with our scientists and staff.
As our STEM education program continues to develop, Bryan sees himself as a catalyst to get more of his coworkers involved. Since one of the things that he most admires about Vertex is the culture of community service among employees and leadership, he’s confident that people will be excited to join in the effort to raise the bar in science education here in Boston.