The summer is here and Pullman is pretty quiet. However, summer is a busy time for many of us. It is an opportunity to focus on research, get that paper written or start putting together a grant, not forgetting that many of the SMB faculty have busy teaching schedules in our summer session. Over the next few months it will be a pleasure to wish a warm welcome to our two new junior faculty recruits, Alan Goodman and Steven Roberts. They will be joining us in July and September respectively. I also look forward to greeting a new batch of graduate students in July and new and returning undergraduates in August. Our annual retreat will be held August 14 at the University Inn in Moscow and I thank my colleague Susan Wang for organizing this important event in the SMB calendar. We have an outstanding keynote speaker in Dr. John Kozarich who has held senior positions in academia and in biotech. He will be telling us about his career path and outlining his translational research in drug discovery and development. He is an excellent role model for our trainees. As we look forward to the 2014-2015 academic year, we will again undertake searches for new faculty. I am very grateful to College of Veterinary Medicine and WSU for their continued support for our recruitment efforts since they are essential for the growth and development of our school.
Dr. Roberts comes to WSU from North Carolina where he has been conducting post-doctoral research at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Originally from northwest Ohio, he earned his undergraduate degrees in chemistry and biology from Bowling Green State University. He completed his Ph.D. at the University of North Carolina. From his graduate and post-doctoral training, Dr. Roberts has developed a strong interest in the mechanisms of DNA repair and mutagenesis. Several of his important discoveries have been published in Nature, Molecular Cell, and Nature Genetics. He was also recently awarded a National Institutes of Health Pathway to Independence Award that he will use at WSU to continue his work investigating the mechanisms that produce genetic alteration how they contribute to human diseases such as cancer.
Dr. Goodman comes to WSU from the University of Miami where he researches the innate immune response to virus infection using the fruit fly as a model. He earned a Ph.D. in Bioengineering and Biomedical Engineering from the University of Washington in 2007 and studied influenza virus pathogenesis. Before going to Miami, Dr. Goodman was a post-doctoral fellow at the Centro Nacional de Biotecnología in Madrid, Spain. There he collaborated to develop a universal influenza virus vaccine (and learn about Spanish soccer!). Through his research, teaching, and mentoring of post-doctoral students, Dr. Goodman’s goal is to improve human health by better understanding disease. Dr. Goodman first became interested in science as an undergraduate at Johns Hopkins University. He was inspired by the “Light and Life” seminar his first semester and was mentored by a professor who helped him receive a research assistantship at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Born in New York City and raised in Utica, New York, Dr. Goodman is a die-hard Yankees fan.
Graduate students in the college will have a new opportunity this fall. Doctoral students earning a degree in molecular bioscience, neuroscience or immunology/infectious disease can now be part of a new gateway program Integrated Programs in Biomedical Sciences (iPBS).
For doctoral students pursuing a degree in molecular biosciences, it means access to a wider range of educational resources and faculty mentors, said John Nilson, professor in the School for Molecular Biosciences who is spearheading the program. They will also learn skills to help them succeed in a variety of professions.
“They will learn more than just how to be good scientists,” said Nilson. “It will give our students new skills and tools to pursue a variety of professions that require a scientific background.”
After earning their doctoral degrees, students will be well-equipped to pursue careers in science policy development, science communication, patent law, educational research, or as researchers in industry or academia. The doctoral component is the foundation that supports the professional development component, said Nilson.
The program will begin mid-July with a professional development leadership retreat followed by three laboratory rotations that begin in summer and end in December.
“The program emphasizes professional development,” said Nilson. “We are training them to be consummate professionals who are committed to a life-time of learning and serving.”
Fall is here already. The changes in season are reflected by changes in the leadership of SMB. John Nilson stepped down from the Directorship of SMB and I assumed that position September 1. I am grateful for the good wishes you have given my family and me during these first few weeks at WSU. In addition, on your behalf, I thank John for his tremendous and committed service to SMB. I wish John well as he goes about developing some exciting new graduate training programs here at WSU. I arrive in Pullman having spent the majority of my research career studying the biology of skin and epithelial cells. I now look forward to establishing my research program at WSU and teaching in both the undergraduate and graduate programs in SMB. This will be my first experience of teaching undergraduates, but I welcome the challenge! I am also excited about new scientific interactions with labs within the school, the College of Veterinary Medicine and the University. Please drop by my office for a chat. I will tell you not only about our research goals, but also plans for a new chapter in the development of the school. As part of the latter effort I have initiated a search for new faculty. A committee has been given the task of recruiting colleagues who will build in our areas of research excellence, including reproductive biology, chromatin biology and cell signaling. Although this is a difficult fiscal time for all of us in science, our efforts should focus on growing and fostering both established and new research programs within the school.