Amanda Hewes has been recognized as one of the 2023 Outstanding Delaware Women in STEM by Million Women Mentors. Hewes currently holds the position of education program manager at ChristianaCare’s Gene Editing Institute. She has been recognized for her efforts to encourage young people to pursue careers in STEM education and for her dedication to bridging disparities in STEM education. In recent years, Hewes has worked to introduce the Gene Editing Institute’s CRISPR in a BoxTM educational toolkit into classrooms across Delaware. This innovative educational resource provides a way for students to learn about gene editing through a hands-on exercise in which they use CRISPR gene editing to disrupt a synthetic gene within a plasmid.
Hewes has a background in CRISPR gene editing and was first author in a publication in Nature that established the highly innovative “gene editing on a chip” protocol. This methodology enables researchers to take DNA fragments extracted from human cells, place them in a test tube, and precisely engineer multiple changes to the genetic code. The CRISPR in a Box™ toolkit was eventually created from this gene editing system.
The simplicity of CRISPR in a Box™ has allowed it to be used as a teaching tool in most school laboratories containing basic laboratory equipment. This factor, coupled with Hewes’ recognition of the potential it could have for high school and college students, led to her taking on a new role as education program manager at ChristianaCare’s Gene Editing Institute. Under her tenure, she has expanded the Gene Editing 360™ platform, which is the Gene Editing Institute’s suite of educational tools for engaging students and the public.
An impressive achievement of Hewes’ impact on STEM education was the creation of Delaware Women and Girls in STEM Day that was signed into law by Gov. John Carney. Hewes was one of 11 women honored for her work in the STEM field and received her recognition at the Delaware State House.
“I’m overjoyed to be honored among so many amazing women in this state,” Hewes said. “It’s humbling to be considered and to stand alongside them. All of these women foster and lead dynamic communities of young women that inspire me every day. I hope that I can do the same by making young women in this state feel empowered through the work that I do.”
Overall, Hewes’ recognition highlights a continued need for innovative and effective ways to engage young people in STEM education, particularly young women and girls. With her success in creating tools like CRISPR in a Box™ and her dedication to bridging disparities in STEM education, Hewes serves as an inspiration to young people and educators alike.