CSM News Briefs: Genetic Counseling Workshop; Physics Outreach at Herrera Elementary

Physics Outreach Director Donald Williams demonstrates how to make ice cream using liquid nitrogen.

Genetic Counselors Provide Students Insight to Join the Profession.

Genetic counselors Aisha Furqan, and Jason Carmichael,
Genetic counselors Aisha Furqan, and Jason Carmichael, presented Fresno State students with insight on how to gain a career in genetic counseling | Photo by Maurice Ndole

Genetic counselors Aisha Furqan and Jason Carmichael held a workshop Wednesday, providing Fresno State students with an insider perspective on joining the profession. 

Furqan, a cancer genetic counselor at Stanford Healthcare, and Carmichael, genetic counselor manager at Valley Children’s Healthcare, shared the wide-ranging reasons for making the profession essential in healthcare. 

“Genetic counselors have advanced training in medical genetics and counseling to guide and support patients seeking more information about how inherited diseases might affect them or their families,” Furqan said.

She told the audience there is a growing demand for genetic counselors as more people seek information about their family background and their health risks due to hereditary illnesses.

During his presentation, Carmichael discussed how one can become a genetic counselor. The path includes a four-year undergraduate degree and two years in the master’s program.

Biology professor Dr. Joseph Ross, the inaugural Dr. Virginia Stammer Eaton Chair in Genetics and Molecular Biology, hosted the workshop sponsored by the Center for Access to Science for All (CASA).

About genetic counseling

Genetic counselors are trained professionals who provide personalized guidance and support to individuals at risk for genetic conditions, congenital disabilities, or hereditary diseases.

Genetic counseling is a specialized healthcare profession that focuses on helping individuals and families understand the complex and often hereditary aspects of their genetic makeup.

They work with patients to assess their family history, interpret genetic test results, and provide information about genetic conditions’ potential risks and implications.


Physics Outreach Science Demos Captivate Elementary School Students.

Fresno State Physics Outreach team.
Fresno State Physics Outreach team lead by program director Don Williams shared scientific demos to students at Herrera Elementary School in Fresno. | Photo by Maurice Ndole

Enthusiastic students at Juan Felippe Herrera Elementary School spent a portion of their Wednesday morning participating in physics demonstrations presented by Fresno State’s Physics Outreach program.

Program Director Don Williams and a team of 9 Fresno State students engaged the students in various real-life physics demonstrations that explained mundane phenomena in life.

Using props such as balloons, a torch, weights, and liquid nitrogen, the physics outreach team taught the young students about pressure, states of matter, inertia, expansion and contraction, and circular and linear motion, among other experiments. 

A state-of-matter demo fascinated the kids when liquid nitrogen, stored in a specialized container known as a dewar flask, was poured into a bucket, releasing white smoky vapor from the freezing substance.

“Wow!” exclaimed the kids.

The students demonstrated how different materials react when subjected to heat and freezing conditions, such as liquid nitrogen, using metal objects, balls, and balloons.

Liquid nitrogen is a freezing, colorless, odorless, and non-toxic substance with a boiling point of approximately -196 degrees Celsius (-321 degrees Fahrenheit), commonly used in cryogenic applications.

At the end of the demos, the students were treated to ice cream prepared by the Physics Outreach team, using liquid nitrogen.

Williams and the Physics Outreach team regularly visit local schools to promote Fresno State and encourage students to embrace physics.