Wednesday, August 5, 2020

MSU Ph.D. student finds passion connecting science with community

February 6, 2020
Chelsie Boodoo poses for a portrait in the Impact Radio Studio on Feb. 5, 2020.
Chelsie Boodoo poses for a portrait in the Impact Radio Studio on Feb. 5, 2020. —
Photo by Annie Barker | The State News

Chelsie Boodoo has been inspired by science since she was a child. Her father owned a computer shop where she learned about technology, which intersected with her mother's involvement in community service. Now, Boodoo is a biomedical engineering Ph.D. student at Michigan State who founded The Sci-Files — a talk show on Impact 89 FM, MSU’s student radio — and MSU SciComm.

Boodoo said she came up with the idea for MSU SciComm after attending a conference in 2018 about science communication. Because MSU didn't have a group focused on this subject, she said she decided to start one herself.

Boodoo is also interested in art, and even paid her way through her senior year of undergrad as a henna artist. MSU SciComm became a way for Boodoo to combine her passion for science with her passion for art,  in addition to being a way for her to bring this idea to her community.

MSU SciComm gives scientists the opportunity to present their ideas in an artistic way, even if they don’t have artistic skills. The group has organized an art exhibition, a live science art show and science art activities for kids at the Abrams Planetarium on MSU’s campus. 

Boodoo is also a co-host of The Sci-Files, which she hosts with her fiancé, Daniel Puentes. On this talk show, they interview students involved in science and cover topics such as education, biology and physics. 

The Sci-Files was awarded first place in the 2020 college radio talk show category hosted by the Michigan Association of Broadcasters.

Currently, Boodoo is preparing for an event at The Grid Arcade & Bar in Lansing, where members of the public will have an opportunity to meet some of those interviewed on The Sci-Files. The event will feature a beer brewed in honor of the black rhino born at Potter Park Zoo on Dec. 24.

"We brewed another beer but it's a stout, and it's a black beer basically because we had an interview about Doppsee — she's the rhino, the black rhino at Potter Park Zoo — and she recently gave birth to a baby calf, a boy," Boodoo said. "And we had an interview with ... doctors and zookeepers and students of MSU Vet Med, and we spoke about Doppsee's pregnancy because it was so rare."

The proceeds of this event will go to the animal health program at Potter Park Zoo.

Boodoo said she was inspired to connect science with the community after attending “star parties” at Florida International University.

"People from all over the community could come and look at telescopes," Boodoo said.

Boodoo said her parents met Puentes at one of these events, where he showed them Jupiter and the moon.

"I loved those events because I saw science with the community, and that was not something I saw often, even though I did outreach," Boodoo said. "Whenever you see someone who's older than you really have an appreciation for science, especially when they're not a scientist, that still touches me, in a way."

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