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Science and Research Awareness Series Introduces Students to Healthcare Fields

Saras 2023 1

Saras 2023 1From forensics to robotic surgery, high school and undergraduate students participating in the 19th annual Science and Research Awareness Series (SARAS), sponsored by the Department of Anesthesiology, enjoyed lectures, workshops, discussions, and hands-on experiences related to topics in biomedical sciences.

About 130 students from Long Island and other local areas attended the three-week program, held July 10-28, to get a first-hand understanding of various healthcare fields. Stony Brook Medicine physicians, nurses, EMTs, researchers and other health professionals dedicated their time to teach SARAS students about the impact of healthcare fields on individual health and society.

Students spent six hours a day learning from experts such as Harold Paz, executive vice president of health sciences and chief executive officer of Stony Brook University Medicine; Peter Igarashi, dean of the Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University; and Carol Gomes, chief executive officer and chief operating officer of Stony Brook University Hospital.

Saras 2023 2“It’s remarkable that we have exposed so many high school students to the myriad of healthcare fields, and indeed for some it is in a sense launching their training as future biomedical scientists, nurses, doctors, EMTs, physical therapists, or for some other field,” said Srinivas Pentyala, SARAS coordinator since its inception, and professor and director of translational research at the Renaissance School of Medicine.

Throughout the program’s 19 years, thousands of students have participated in this introduction to biomedical sciences.

SARAS programs included:

  • CPR training
  • A session on what healthy breathing is all about
  • A hands-on workshop showing how physical therapists help fix injury
  • Learning about microbes and blood diseases through laboratory science workshops
  • Seeing dentistry like never before, as technology and diagnostics reveal that the health of our mouth is more than just teeth but a portal to overall health
  • The importance of forensics
  • How anesthesiology works

In total, more than 50 clinical and basic science specialties were presented to students throughout the weeks of the program.

Saras 2023 3Pranit Addepalli, a rising high school junior from Queens, left his home at 7 am to take the train to attend the program and arrived home at 7 pm. Addepalli said that the program helped him discover which area of science interests him most and that the week has been transformative for his future plans.

“I enjoyed the brain workshops about neuro degeneration the most, because it was very eye opening, especially from someone who doesn’t have that much exposure to neuroscience. It really helped me explore the different types of processes and different functions of the brain and how they’re affected by different diseases like Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases,” said Addepalli, who hopes to study neuroscience in college.

Rising high school senior Christina Zarafopoulou from Commack echoed Addepalli’s sentiments. “My favorite part of this whole experience was finding out about the different fields and how different experts came and talked to us about all different areas instead of being very focused on one area,” she said. “I know I want to go into chemistry or biochemistry, but I didn’t really know what to do after that, and this program made me realize that pharmacy is what I like the most and it made me feel more secure about my choice.”

SARAS also provided workshops for students’ current academic focus, regardless of their interests, with tips on test taking, mainly for SAT, MCAT and other professional degree entrance exams. A representative from the Stony Brook office of admissions met with students to discuss tips on finding the right college fit.

Applications are accepted beginning mid-January on the SARAS website and students are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.

— Beth Squire

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