For as long as she can remember, Stephanie Levi has had a passion for bringing science to the masses through the media, public events and educational experiences. Night Lab is the result of the combination of this passion, Stephanie’s scientific training, her love of all things visual, ongoing fascination with the intersection of science and all aspects of culture and unchallenged status as a social butterfly. She loves creating programs for people who flunked chemistry, think genes come from The Gap, or think “that’s hard!” when they hear the word molecular. She loves the idea that she and many others can put a new face on science that can grab the interest of the public and engage them in the scientific process.
Stephanie is a multi-talented woman who has published articles about art, music, food, fashion, business and style in magazines including Venus Zine and Love, Chicago. An accomplished public speaker with a strong presence, she has hosted radio shows on Chicago’s WHPK and delivers highly entertaining science talks and programs to children, teens and adults alike. A skilled and creative cook and baker, Stephanie ran her own catering company for two years while devoting herself full-time to cell biology research on motor proteins that play a role cellular movement, and is plotting her culinary revival now that her Ph.D. is complete.
While doing research full time, Stephanie has been involved in science outreach efforts essentially as a full time job. Stephanie mentored her first student ten years ago, who now holds a Ph.D. in Virology and credits the $50,000 scholarship-winning science fair project done with Stephanie as her inspiration. Other projects have included conducting science writing workshops for children in underserved communities, serving on the board for Science Chicago at her Ph.D. institution, building crime scenes in middle-school classrooms to teach kids chemistry-these are the tip of the iceberg of her outreach portfolio.
Science is Stephanie’s first love, and earned her Ph.D. in Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology from the University of Chicago in 2009, where she studied the structure and function of the Golgi, a structure in the cell that is like the cell’s post office. The Golgi takes newly-made proteins (the mail) and attaches a sugar molecule to them, which acts like a molecular zipcode that tells the cell where to send the protein. The Golgi has a very beautiful and complex structure, and Stephanie has been dedicated to studying proteins that contribute the structure and function of the Golgi. Obsessed with the visual in biology, Stephanie loves using a variety of microscopic techniques to study the Golgi in three dimensions to understand how the Golgi’s structure might be disrupted when these proteins are missing from the cell. Currently, Stephanie is the Coordinator for the Student Center for Science Engagement at Northeastern Illinois University, an initiative aimed at providing students with the support and opportunities they need to pursue and complete a science degree and move into lifetime careers in the sciences.
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