Dr. Neville Plans Chelsea Research Festival for May 18 at Chelsea High School

Dr. Sarah Elizabeth Neville has it all well covered on the Chelsea Research Festival website.

Under the category of goals for the second annual Festival which will take place on May 18 at Chelsea High, the esteemed Boston College doctoral program graduate and Brown University Research Fellow writes: Share the results of research about Chelsea to Chelsea residents; give Chelsea residents the opportunity to hear about the advances in health and science to which they have contributed;  add their own perspectives to the results and next steps; expose Chelsea residents, especially middle and high school students, to career and educational paths in research, the sciences, etc. and provide them with networking opportunities.

Neville, wife of Chelsea School Committee member Roberto Jimenez Rivera, said another goal is also to give residents, researchers, and organizations, a forum for exchanging ideas, and that’s what participants and attendees at this year’s Festival will experience.

Engaging Young People

The organizers of the Festival have visited three local groups, La Collaborativa’s STEM group, Chelsea’s Wright Science and Technology Academy’s after-school program, and GreenRoots ECO and made a presentation, entitled “All About Research,” to students.

“We talked about what research and gave three examples of different studies that have happened in Chelsea, and we explained the different methods of the studies and what can be done with the results,” said Neville, who was accompanied by MGH research assistant Dan Pacella, a member of the Festival’s planning committee.

“We wanted to show that research is more than just doing work in a lab,” added Neville. “Research can be relevant to one’s own life in the community, and there’s a huge variety in the forms that research can take.”

Neville said she would like to get more students involved in this year’s Festival.

“We’re trying to do these visits to classrooms and to youth organizations to get the momentum going for participating in the Festival, also to inspire them to consider research careers later on,” said Neville.

Sharing the Results

Neville said that there have been several research projects happening in Chelsea, including the Chelsea Project that monitors COVID levels in wastewater, and the Chelsea EATS study, completed by the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, that examined food insecurity in Chelsea.

“I am also a social science researcher, and I know that in order to do research in a community, community members have to give up their time and energy to respond to surveys and share parts of their lives,” Neville noted. “Usually, the responders don’t end up hearing about the results of the research they contribute to. That was the primary idea behind the Chelsea Research Festival – to create a venue where researchers can give back to the community in that way, to show people where their impact has been. The researchers will be able to spend time with community members at the Festival and explain the results of their work to them.”

Beth Israel and MGH Chelsea Big Supporters of the Festival

Dr. Neville said that last year, the Festival’s inaugural year, the MGH Chelsea Healthcare Center made the event possible. “The leaders of the MGH Chelsea Research Program, Amy Izen, Dr. Julie Levinson, Dr. Rohit Chandra, are really passionate about community-based research and making sure that research at MGH isn’t happening in silos,” explained Nevillle. “They were real champions for making sure this event happened. They helped to fund last year’s Festival, and we held it in the Chelsea High gymnasium and welcomed 30 research presentations.”

This year, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Chelsea and the Chelsea Cultural Council have stepped up to provide the funding for the Festival. Beth Israel has also been very supportive in planning and organizing this year’s Festival.

“There’s a lot of people who are working hard in planning and supporting the event,” said Neville. “Staff from the Chelsea Public Schools, City Hall, Bunker Hill Community College, HarborCOV, GreenRoots, and La Colaborativa, are all donating their time and energy to make sure the Festival fits the needs of the community.”

(People interested in participating in the Chelsea Research Festival can visit the Website and submit their research proposals. The deadline for research submission is March 17, 2023.)

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