The American Physiological Society names first-ever minority outreach fellow

BETHESDA, MD (May 2, 2006) – Mesia Moore Steed is from a family of health professionals, and although she admires their work, she knew that taking care of sick people was not her passion.

"I was interested in wellness," recalled Steed, who instead found her niche in physiology, a career that allows her to help the sick by doing biomedical research. Steed is now in the doctoral program at the University of Louisville's Department of Physiology & Biophysics where her aim is to advance knowledge about diseases that have a high incidence among minorities, including hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity.

Steed discovered physiology with a bit of luck, and now wants to tell other minority students in elementary, middle, and high school about the interesting things physiologists do. The American Physiological Society recently named Steed its first K-12 Minority Outreach Fellow. In the coming year, she will encourage pre-college minority students who are underrepresented in science -- African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanics and Pacific Islanders -- to think about becoming biomedical researchers.

Minority education aim of fellowship

As the APS Fellow, Steed will visit classrooms to tell students about her career path and to model for minority students what they can achieve. As the K-12 Minority Outreach Fellow, Steed will:

  • Serve as a physiologist-in-residence at the APS science teaching forum, a week of hands on science training for middle school and high school teachers
  • Visit two minority student classrooms to do career presentations and hands-on activities
  • Attend the 2006 Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) to reach out to undergraduate students and present APS research awards
  • Conduct outreach activities for high school teachers and students at Experimental Biology 2007

The fellowship pays Steed's registration and travel costs to the 2006 and 2007 Experimental Biology meeting and to the 2006 ABRCMS meeting. The fellowship also includes travel costs to the science teaching forum in Virginia and travel, material and supply costs for her two visits to minority student classrooms.

"Mesia's enthusiasm for sharing the excitement of doing science makes her an ideal Outreach Fellow," said APS Director of Education, Marsha Matyas.

Career path rooted in experience

The Henderson, Kentucky native did her undergraduate studies at the University of Louisville, where she majored in Exercise Science and Sport Medicine. She especially enjoyed her exercise physiology classes, but didn't really think about physiology as a career.

She worked at the North West Area Health Education Center in Louisville after graduation, first as the assistant health education coordinator and later as the activity coordinator. During this time she met Irving G. Joshua, the chairman of the Department of Physiology & Biophysics at the University of Louisville. Joshua encouraged her to take a physiology course. She did, and was hooked.

Steed is now a doctoral student in the department and was the lead author of two research projects that she presented at Experimental Biology conferences in 2005 ("Differential role of eNOS, iNOS and nNOS in vascular remodeling") and in 2006 ("Mechanisms of vascular remodeling in eNOS knockout mice"). The conference attracts about 12,000 scientists from around the world.

In addition to her research and work as a health educator, Steed has extensive experience as a tutor and graduate assistant. She has been a head cheerleading coach, personal trainer and fitness instructor. Steed also has done extensive volunteer work.

Steed earlier received the APS NIDDK Minority Travel award, second place in the "Research Louisville" graduate PhD competition, the University of Louisville Integrated Programs in Biomedical Sciences Fellowship, and the M. Celeste Nichols Professional Development Award. She has tutored graduate level physiology and cell biology students and taught small animal surgical techniques, protein analysis and research proposal development to undergraduate summer research students.

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The American Physiological Society was founded in 1887 to foster basic and applied bioscience. The Bethesda, Maryland-based society has more than 10,500 members and publishes 14 peer-reviewed journals containing almost 4,000 articles annually.

APS provides a wide range of research, educational and career support and programming to further the contributions of physiology to understanding the mechanisms of diseased and healthy states. In May 2004, APS received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM).


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