Facing the prospect of her outreach program going fully remote, Dr. Gabriella Baki set to work brainstorming with a small group of her students last fall about what projects could be done virtually to showcase The University of Toledo’s Cosmetic Science and Formulation Design Program.
That creative foresight paid off. The team’s projects were featured as part of a special Imagination Station online program Tuesday, Jan. 26, aimed at introducing science and chemistry to young girls.
“We really want to show kids how everyday products are being made and the science behind it,” said Baki, an associate professor of pharmacy practice and director of the Cosmetic Science and Formulation Design Program. “I’m so excited to take part in this, reach out to young girls and hopefully spark some interest in our field and chemistry in general.”
She and her students assembled individually packaged kits containing all the ingredients needed to make a moisturizing face mask and shower jelly (imagine a wobbly, Jell-O-like bar of soap).
At the event, Baki led participants through the step-by-step process of creating the two products and provided a brief overview of cosmetic science and the types of jobs available in the field. UToledo is the only university in the U.S. to offer an undergraduate program in cosmetic science and formulation design. Baki is director of the cross-disciplinary program in the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences that prepares in-demand graduates who have specialized in the science, art and business of cosmetics.
Baki, who has partnered with the Imagination Station before on STEM-related programming for young girls, said it’s important to reach children — especially girls — with a message that science can be fun and relevant to their interests.
“It’s much easier to make people understand what this career option could be about by allowing them to experience it and make something themselves. The cosmetic and personal care industry is not an isolated industry,” she said. “It’s something that any of us can do, and it’s something that’s a lot of fun.”