From Stargazer to Science Educator: MilliporeSigma Employee Ignites Passion for Science

Dec 12, 2023 9:00 AM ET

Nearly 190,000 students. 885 events. 605 communities. Since 2017, the Curiosity Cube—a retrofitted shipping container turned mobile science lab from MilliporeSigma, the U.S. and Canada Life Science business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, has made a big impact traveling across North America and Europe. 

At each stop, a Curiosity Cube Coordinator makes it possible. The Curiosity Cube Coordinator handles logistics, manages employee volunteers and, most importantly, shares a passion for science with young students who might not otherwise have access to interactive, hands-on science learning.

Curiosity in science all starts with a spark, and the Curiosity Cube has the power to ignite it. That feeling is not only within the young students who visit the Curiosity Cube, but also within every volunteer and employee who makes the program’s mission possible.

Curiosity Cube Coordinator Audra DeMariano felt her own spark at a very young age with her father as she shared his love for star gazing. “He used to bring the telescope outside on our back porch during clear nights and show my siblings and me beautiful closeups of planets, flickering stars, and the moon.” As she gazed at the night sky, she was mesmerized by the natural world around her and appreciated the awe you can discover in your backyard.

Her spark stayed with her throughout the years. She majored in biology in college and then worked at MilliporeSigma in quality control and production at its St. Louis site. During her third year, her manager encouraged her to sign up as the lead teacher for a Curiosity Labs™ event, a program that connects classrooms with MilliporeSigma employees who volunteer to lead interactive, hands-on science lessons for students. 

“My experience volunteering at the event inspired me so much that I left the company to pursue a career teaching middle school science at a school nearby,” Audra recalls. “After two years of teaching, I saw a job posting for a Curiosity Cube Coordinator on the Employee & Community Engagement team and knew this was my next step.” 

As a Curiosity Cube Coordinator, Audra and her team are responsible for shepherding the Curiosity Cube through 24 MilliporeSigma sites in the U.S. and Canada, teaching science to students through interactive, hands-on experiments. 

Audra knew she had found her calling during her first event, when a student ran up to her and handed her a letter. “He said he was thankful the Curiosity Cube visited because since he was six years old, he always wanted to look into a microscope,”  Audra recollected. “That day, he finally got the chance. That student had waited half his life to explore a microscope, and our program and volunteers made his dream come true!”  

By instilling a love for science at a young age, students are far more likely to explore a career in the field, just like Audra did. As a global science and technology company, MilliporeSigma must do as much as possible to allow access to science education and curiosity to support the global scientific community now and in the future. Enabling access to education for those who are underrepresented can level the playing field to advance society, while responding to the individual needs of each community. With equal access to education, the company can help reduce inequalities across the globe and solve the problems of tomorrow.

Learn more about how the company sparks curiosity by visiting its employee and community engagement webpage.