The Genomics Leadership Initiative at Juniata College
The Genomics Leadership Initiative at Juniata College has been funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The initiative seeks to achieve its goal by developing a genomics certificate program, a leadership module, and student summer research experiences.
Student summer research experiences:
Student research is a high-impact educational practice that helps students develop expertise, confidence, and effective communication skills. Research projects are a platform for undergraduates to apply knowledge and engage in the full scholarly process. The ability to work within an interdisciplinary team and develop strong organizational and interpersonal skills is essential for successful completion of the project, and the ability to communicate findings to peers and the lay public is an essential skill for future scientists and leaders.
The grant provides support for summer undergraduate research projects using cutting edge Next-Generation sequencing approaches for 40 students. Supporting elements include faculty summer mentoring stipends, a powerful compute cluster, commercial software for data analysis, a Bioinformatics postdoc shared between Juniata and Penn State who will teach at Juniata while doing research at Penn State, and a summer faculty development workshop run by the GCAT-SEEK consortium.
Genomics certificate program (currently pending approval of JC Curriculum Committee):
Comprised of seven courses, the genomics certificate addresses both the science and the broader ethical, legal and social implications (ELSI) surrounding progress and discoveries in the field of genomics. The ethical, legal and social issues surrounding advances in genomics provides a strong focus for practicing a breadth of knowledge and skills; the understanding of the scientific foundation of genomics provides the focus for developing an interdisciplinary base and cross disciplinary understanding of the life sciences in an era of “big data”. To help support this part of the program the grant has also funded an ELSI faculty development workshop, a seminar series, stipends for faculty developing new or revised classes, and stipends for faculty to formally assess the learning gains of students as a result of programmatic activities.
This initiative develops leadership through two discrete methods: 1) study of theory in coursework and case-study experiences and 2) the practice of and exposure to leadership in a research environment. Two existing Juniata courses explore skills and styles of leadership: “Behavior Analysis of Organizations” in business and “Judgment and Decision Making” in psychology. Another class, “Leadership,” is being developed to provide additional focus on challenges of providing leadership in the information age within global and cultural contexts. Additionally, a series of executive residencies, integrated with a number of courses, are being developed in a work group led by Provost Lakso. Juniata has an established program facilitating short-term residencies with executives from diverse organizations, including medicine. The residencies explore leadership traits and characteristics, including creating a vision, relationship and team development to get “work done through others,” and how to recognize and organize tasks for optimal productivity.
Funded Programs for Research in Biology at Juniata
The National Science Foundation has awarded Juniata College a $445,039 grant to fund a series of faculty development workshops to be held at Juniata College and other college and university campuses on genomics education over the next five years.
GCAT-SEEK is a group of educators who seek to incorporate new, massively-parallel sequencing technologies into the undergraduate curriculum to provide students with a hands-on opportunity to apply these revolutionary cutting-edge tools to investigate biological questions. (gcat-seek.org)
NSF S-STEM scholarship program: The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded Juniata College a "Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math" (S-STEM) grant to provide community/two year college transfer students with scholarships of up to $10,000 per year for the two years needed to complete a B. S. degree.