Steadman Philippon Research Institute celebrates 9 years of local high school science club partnerships

Institute’s education and public outreach committee welcomes students into labs for research projects

Dr. Marc Philippon says a few words before enjoying a student presentation at the Steadman Philippon Research Institute’s annual science club event.
John LaConte/Vail Daily

Scientists at the Steadman Philippon Research Institute welcomed local students into their research labs again this year in a collection of semester-long projects which are wrapping up this month.

On April 13, students from Vail Mountain School, Eagle Valley High School, Vail Christian, Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy, Battle Mountain High School and Lake County High School presented the findings to research questions which they posed with the help of the doctors and scientists at the Vail-based research institute.

The idea to welcome students into the research labs was conceived in 2012 when Senenne Philippon, spouse of Dr. Marc Philippon, toured the new facility at the Steadman Philippon Research Institute.

“I came down here and viewed the $1.8 million expansion of the laboratories,” she said from the research institute on April 13. “It was very exciting – if you saw all the machines and equipment, the seven-foot robotic arm, to me it was amazing.”

Senenne Philippon at the 9th-annual Steadman Philippon Research Institute science club presentations on April 13 in Vail.
John LaConte/Vail Daily

In getting swept up in what she called “the energy and excitement from all the researchers and scientists down here,” her reaction was to want to share the facility with the community.

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“We put together a committee called EPOC, which stands for Education and Public Outreach Committee to figure out how we can support the community by starting a youth education program,” Philippon said. “Now we’re celebrating our 9th year … At any given time you’ll walk the halls and you’ll see 5th grade science classes touring our laboratories, and a lot of other programs we’ve created from 5th grade all the way to college.”

This year, Emily Law and Will McLoota presented the findings on their study of muscle fatigue in anaerobic vs. aerobic athletes; Campbell Gubrud and Luke Wilson studied senescence levels across species and what they can tell us about aging; Blake Barron and Colleen Farrell studied the effects of estradiol on osteoblast activity; Sage Eaton and Addison Wittenberg looked at the response of golfers to negative and positive feedback; and Desmond Sandoval and Gemma Helguera used the lab’s Instron machine to examine the force to failure of ACL grafts.

Dr. Richard Steadman at the 9th-annual Steadman Philippon Research Institute science club presentations on April 13 in Vail.
John LaConte/Daily archive photo

The students, all high school seniors, then answered tough questions from researchers who examined their findings.

Many of the people who made the research institute’s education and public outreach committee possible were in attendance, including Dr. Richard Steadman.

“Without his vision, none of this would be possible, none of us would be here today,” Senenne Philippon said.

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