The goal of this project is to increase students’ understanding and interest in science through active participation in the first large-scale surveillance initiative targeting avian viruses like influenza viruses (AIV) and avian paramyxoviruses (APMV, also known as Newcastle disease virus) conducted in an urban area – New York City, New York.
We aim to increase student’s understanding and interest in science through active participation in the first large- scale surveillance initiative targeting avian viruses like influenza viruses (AIV) and avian paramyxoviruses (APMV, also known as Newcastle disease virus) ever conducted in an urban area – New York City (NYC) – via analysis of bird droppings. The New York City Virus Hunters (NYCVH) initiative will enable teachers, students and interested community members to gain an understanding of the interaction of natural environments and human health, while increasing their knowledge, confidence, and interest in science. The NYCVH initiative will build on strong collaborations between the Krammer Laboratory at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (ISMMS), a globally leading laboratory in virology, and BioBus, a leading NYC science outreach and education institution. NYCVH will develop and provide all the training, equipment, materials, and infrastructure needed to support this large-scale, community-science-driven research effort. NYCVH will be designed to offer multiple entry points and levels of engagement for interested community scientists – such as students, teachers or community members – to participate. Trainings will ensure that interested teachers gain an understanding of modern viral surveillance techniques and have ways to easily incorporate NYCVH program aspects of their choice into their work. Over the course of the program, 6000 middle and high school students will be led by 100 teachers trained at workshops held at BioBus’s BioBase Harlem inside Columbia University’s Zuckerman Institute. Workshops will introduce teachers to modern viral surveillance using molecular techniques, experimental design, laboratory and bioinformatics methods, sampling kit components, and detail how teachers and students can participate in research to prevent the next pandemic. Through BioBus’ network we will enlist partner schools to broaden participation in the program including through large-scale sampling events. In addition, and importantly, 25 high school students from historically underrepresented communities in science will be trained to spearhead the initiative as Junior Research Scientists who will join the NYCVH as interns over the academic year and get an intensive training in sampling, nucleic acid detection, sequencing, phylogenetic analysis and virology in general to become the next generation of leading virologists. With ISMMS, BioBus and plus a network of scientists from academic institutions and wildlife rehabilitators, those students will be supported throughout their research process – study design, sample collection, sample processing, analyzing results, and presenting their research at symposia. This project will be evaluated using a mixed-methods approach tailored to understanding the impact of program participation on all individuals. The structure of this program is designed to determine the feasibility and impact of large-scale studies at the urban human – avian interface through participatory research, and influence on student’s long-term STEM career goals.
Curriculum materials will be disseminated via a dedicated program website and presented at conferences. Project description and outcomes will be disseminated at student research symposia, public events, conferences, open-access data repositories and in publications in peer-reviewed journals.
New York City secondary school teachers, students, and their communities.
-Participatory Action Research
-Data to Action
-Enhancing Community Awareness for Infectious Disease