Kiam Preston has yet to write his dissertation, but he’s already mentoring the next generation of scientists.
A graduate student at the National Eye Institute, Preston volunteered this summer as a virtual instructor in the 8-week-long Journal of Emerging Investigators Mini Ph.D. Program.
The program targets rising 8th to 10th grade students from ethnic groups underrepresented in science (Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian/Alaska Native, and Pacific Islander). JEI’s mission is to foster youth interest in science by enabling young scientists to publish in a peer-reviewed journal. In addition to attending lectures over the summer, program participants conduct research, draft manuscripts, and publish their results in JEI.
Preston gave Saturday lectures on various topics, including bacteria, the research process, and the structure of research papers. Together, he and his students designed an experiment to test the antibacterial properties of common household items, including vinegar, lime juice, and hot sauce, using at-home lab kits.
“The best part so far has been troubleshooting the experiment with my students. We’ve enjoyed generating ideas, thinking critically, and converting our thoughts into something tangible. Our experiment has concluded and now we’re drafting our manuscript, said Preston.” At the program’s end, the students submit their manuscript to JEI for peer review by other budding scientists.
Although his future in science is uncertain, Preston believes teaching and mentoring will be an important part of his work, wherever life’s road takes him.
For now, he devotes most of his energy to earning a Ph.D. in biomedical science from Morehouse School of Medicine. With mentor Anand Swaroop, chief of the NEI Neurobiology Neurodegeneration and Repair Laboratory, Preston is studying rod photoreceptor development and its involvement in circadian rhythms.