Science Career Panel

The MPFI Scientific Career Panel is an opportunity for high school and middle school students in Palm Beach County to meet and interact with Max Planck scientists. Students will hear from scientists who are in different stages of training, from undergraduate interns to postdoctoral fellows. They will discuss what inspired them to choose a career in science, and the educational and research backgrounds that got them to where they are today.

The 2017 Scientific Career Panel will be held on Saturday, October 7, 2017 from 10:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The day will feature a tour of a laboratory, lunch, and a discussion session with scientists. Palm Beach County Middle and High Schools can apply to attend MPFI’s Science Career Panel via the application link below. Before applying, please select six students and one teacher chaperone. Teachers should register themselves, their six students, and submit their answer to the application question below (one application entry per school) by Monday, September 18, 2017. Eight middle schools and eight high schools will be selected based on the answers to the application question. Priority will be given to those schools who were not selected to participate last year. Selected schools will be notified no later than Friday, September 29, 2017. Please contact Marilena Fernandez with any questions at

Application Question: How will your students benefit from learning more about careers in science?


2017 Panelists

Dr. Idris EL-Amin

Dr. Idris EL-Amin is currently the Head and Attending Veterinarian of the Animal Research Center at the Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience (MPFI). He attended Alabama A&M University where he received a B.S. in Animal Science and Chemistry. After receiving a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree at Tuskegee University, Dr. EL-Amin completed a dual-residency program at Wake Forest University in Laboratory Animal and Primate medicine. He then went on to become Staff Veterinarian for Wake Forest University and Research Veterinarian for the Wake Forest Institute of Regenerative Medicine. Prior to his position at MPFI, Dr. EL-Amin was the Program Director and Attending Veterinarian for the David H Murdock Research Institute where he managed a large colony of Diabetic Rhesus macaques. Dr. EL-Amin balances his career in Laboratory Animal Medicine with being a married father to two boys.

Dr. Michael Smirnov

Dr. Michael Smirnov joined Max Planck Florida as a postdoc in the Yasuda lab in January of 2015. His research involves developing and automating microscopy techniques used to investigate the cellular and molecular basis of learning and memory. Prior to joining the Yasuda Lab, Dr. Smirnov earned his PhD in Neuroscience at Georgetown University. His dissertation examined the response of developing nerve cells to the presence of varying topographic and biochemical cues found in injured brain tissue. He is also a founder and host of the Neurotransmissions podcast, in which leading neuroscientists from around the world share their perspectives on a life in neuroscience.

Matthew McCann

Matthew McCann joined the Max Planck Florida Institute in July 2016 as a post-baccalaureate research fellow in the Fitzpatrick Lab. His research studies the effects of learning and visually guided behavior in visual cortical circuits. He is currently developing real-time video based eye tracking algorithms for use in visual behavior experiments and software for analyzing two-photon microscopy imaging data. Matthew received his bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering from Duke University in 2016.

Watch the career panel live here!

View questions and answers from our 2016 Science Career Panel here.

View questions and answers from our 2015 Science Career Panel here.

View questions and answers from our 2014 Science Career Panel here.