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Guest Lecture - Lynne T. Bemis and Linda Burhansstipanov

Elizabeth Montano

Linda B. from the Native American Cancer Research Corporation (NACR) and Lynne presented to our Discovery and Innovation class methods for enhancing our creativity and the development of a market for a product of that creativity. These women are interested in cancer research and their talk evolved through games and informative slides with the maintenance of a focus on cancer education.

The first tool we learned about was for the purpose of creating interest (and awakeness) among audience members in whatever subject we are presenting to them. This tool is called an energizer. It is a short, fun activity to get the audiences blood pumping and make each member more awake. The activity can include standing, raising both arms in the air, and participant interaction. There were three energizers (That's Me, Warrior Princess Bear, and Sweep the Teepee) we performed that in addition to waking the audience, it gives the presenter an idea of the type of people in the audience. It is valuble to determine quick methods for investigating the type people in the audience we are presenting to. This helps us taylor our presentation and discussion to more closely fit their needs, ideas, or mindset.

The next tool we learned about was for enhancing our creativity, this is a great tool for working both alone and in collaboration. When working alone in a creative effort, we need to determine the places and hours during which we are the most productive, release all fear, and be in a balanced mindset. When we are collaborating in a creative effort we need to work with someone we trust and find a way to let ideas sit together like walking and talking. Another way to enhance creativity is to clearly define what the problem is we are trying to solve, this will help determine what the customer need is. The next is to fully examine your objective, determine the take home message, find funding and determine who your competition is. The future direction for Linda B. and Lynne's collaboration is to get to the third phase of their SBIR or STTR funding.

Another way to let the creativity flow more freely is to incorporate humor into the creative environment. Whether we use humor in our presentations of subjects we are working on like cancer or within the group thinking of ways to solve a problem, it is very useful. The form of humor we use must be from a good natured place and avoid the potential for offending others. An excellent example is adding pictures of cute animals or humerous quotations to our PowerPoint slides.

A third tool we learned was how to sell a product or teach a difficult to learn subject using fun games full of key information. Some of the games we were introduced to included colon cancer Bingo, Reebop genetics, match the symptoms to the disease, and genetics using string chromosomes. These games were very informative and provided a memorable hands on experience.

Three Questions I Didn't ask:

  1. After you became aware of these tools to enhance creativity, how long did it take until applying them became second nature to you?
  2. What is your career advice for PhD students in Biology?
  3. What are your suggestions for increasing confidence?