Nervous System Engineers
Superpowered by Stem Cells
The Stem Cell Bioprocessing and Regenerative Biomaterials Lab bioengineers neural tissue to study the nervous system. 🧠 Brains, spines, nerves, oh my!
Why Research Matters
When Miranda suffered a spinal cord injury at a very young age, she and her family began learning about treatment options for people with injuries like hers. This led to Miranda getting interested in central nervous system research being done with stem cells. What Miranda learned—along with the positive interactions she had with the health care workers who helped her—sparked her interest in the field of science.
“Science is everywhere around us, and we can come to appreciate that when we have people that dedicate their careers and their lives and their time to finding answers, [it makes] things better for the rest of the world and the people in it.”
Questions to consider
- Miranda’s respect for her physical therapists inspired her to pursue a career in science. What interactions have you had with people in science careers? What did they do and how have they influenced you?
- Miranda’s injury prompted her to learn more about stem cells. What do you already know about stem cells? What do you want to know about how they work or what they can do?
Students Ask Scientists
Ever wonder what scientists do every day, or what kind of equipment they use in their lab? Join middle schoolers from Milwaukee, Wisconsin and researchers from the Stem Cell Bioprocessing and Regenerative Biomaterials Lab to learn more about what research really looks like!
Questions to consider
- Using different mold shapes can encourage stem cells to grow into entirely different types of tissues. Can you think of common items that are made of the same material, but have different functions due to the different molds they were made in?
- When you break down the word bioengineering into its parts, what does that tell you about what the lab does?
“Making really small contributions really leads up to—in the long run—people being able to make great discoveries and great medical advances that are going to help human lives.”
There are 4 cards to read.
I am in charge of the scientific, academic, and commercial output of the lab. This means that I hire lab personnel, provide training for students, and help produce all scientific papers, presentations, patents, and grant proposals.
I come up with ways to engineer the size and shape of 3D tissues derived from human stem cells, so that they will be similar to the brain. 🧠
I develop ways to direct human stem cells into every type of neuron in the brain and spinal cord… from the neurons that help you move to those that help you feel. 🖐️
I work with stem cells to create models of the developing brain and spinal cord. 🧠
Nervous System Engineers: Superpowered By Stem Cells
Wondering how to spark additional learning using these media resources? Check out this guide developed by science educators, for science educators.
Inside this guide:
- Additional information about the lab
- Additional classroom activities to extend the learning
- Aligned academic standards (NGSS and WSS)
Norman Yuson Cuaño
Science Education Lead
Educator Engagement Guide and Activities
Thanks to our participating scientists
Randy Ashton, PhD
Carlos Marti-Figueroa, PhD
Nisha Iyer, PhD
Morgridge Institute for Research
Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation
Wisconsin Institute for Discovery
Ashton Group—Stem Cell Bioprocessing and Regenerative Biomaterials Laboratory
Director of Education
Director of Television
Educator Advisory Group
Lodi Middle School
Butler Middle School
Wedgewood Middle School
Funding Provided By
Timothy William Trout Education Fund
a gift of Monroe and Sandra Trout
Focus Fund for Education
Friends of PBS Wisconsin