Hi, my name is Dr. Taylor Medwig-Kinney and I'm a cell and developmental biologist. I started Project W.O.R.M.S. (Women for Outreach & Role Models in Science) to promote recruitment of women and girls in science. Microscopy was so influential in igniting my passion for science, so I hope to share that passion with others!

About Project W.O.R.M.S.

History: I started Project W.O.R.M.S. as a Ph.D. student at Stony Brook University with funding from the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science and support from Nobska Imaging. Initially, I visited local K-12 schools, bringing microscopes and the worms I study, C. elegans (hence, the acronym). I expanded the reach of this program as a postdoc at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with funding from the L'Oréal For Women in Science Program. So far, I have distributed nearly 500 pocket microscopes across North Carolina, prioritizing schools with >50% students considered economically disadvantaged.

Rationale: Women have historically been underrepresented in STEM fields, and while this gap has been slowly shrinking over time [1], women are still significantly underrepresented in academia at the faculty level [2]. Some barriers to retention of women in STEM are beyond the scope of a small-scale project, such as systemic gender-based discrimination, sexual harassment, as well as lack of accommodations and affordable childcare for mothers. However, other issues that can sway women from pursuing careers in STEM can be directly addressed through short-term interventions. These factors include perceived expectations of brilliance [3], underestimation of personal ability and performance [4], lower levels of confidence [5], in addition to lack of representation and role models [6], which all disproportionately affect girls and women.

Goals: By providing students with hands-on experience with microscopes and exposure to research led by women scientists, I hope to accomplish the following: 

Check out our feature in The Chronicle of Higher Education!

Pocket Microscope Guide

Step 1:  Find something cool to look at!
Examples: skin of a red onion, a strand of hair, salt crystals, a flower petal or leaf, a dollar bill
Step 2:  Install batterySlide the battery door at the back of the microscope to install the included AA battery
Step 3:  Illuminate the objectPress the LED switch to turn on the LED bulb and shine light on your sample
Step 4:  Adjust the zoomAdjust the zooming dial to the lowest magnification (60x) before increasing it
Step 5:  Adjust the focusRotate the focusing ring until your sample can be seen clearly (this can take some practice!)

Learn about women scientists