March 2011

Focus on the ASBMB Undergraduate Affiliate Network

A look at the growth and development of the UAN since its inception in 2000.

The Undergraduate Affiliate Network was initiated by J. Ellis Bell in 2000.

The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Undergraduate Affiliate Network was initiated by J. Ellis Bell in 2000 to “create a community of faculty involved with both research and undergraduate education, to promote the involvement of undergraduates in research and outreach activities and student centered learning and to provide a connection between students and their future careers.”

The management of the UAN initially was included as part of the Educational and Professional Development Committee activities in 2002, and the first regional directors were appointed in 2003. That same year, the UAN was integrated into the Experimental Biology meeting concomitant with the education sessions being moved into separate satellite sessions. The UAN has grown during the past several years and has evolved a well-defined organizational structure that includes a chair, regional directors, numerous local chapters and, more recently, various awards directed at biochemistry and molecular biology undergraduate education, research, and K-12 outreach.

Organizational structure

The UAN started with six distinct regions (Northeast, North-Central, Northwest, Southeast, South-Central, and Southwest), and directors were appointed to serve as coordinators and recruiters for each region. Bell, who was the first UAN chairman, and these initial regional directors were instrumental in defining the core mission of the UAN.

Joseph Provost served as the second UAN chairman from 2006 to 2009, and during his tenure a number of important initiatives were designed and implemented. As Provost recalls, “The early years were devoted to defining the UAN role within the EPD and to understanding how to further the goals of the ASBMB to best serve primarily-undergraduate institutions’ faculty and undergraduates. The initial idea was to promote interactions at all levels of the education system and create a community of educators and students. This was an exciting opportunity to have a real impact on the flow of students into science, in particular biochemistry and molecular biology.” The current chairwoman of the UAN is Neena Grover of Colorado College.

Some of the UAN’s initial goals were to establish best practices and standard protocols, finish developing the network’s website and grow the activities of the UAN. Provost remembers, “We worked together to do all of this and create a separate committee which is still a part of the EPD but meets separately twice a year and has its own identity for organization. We were able to propose and get approved a budget, which was instrumental to mature the UAN.”

Growth and development

In 2009, Weiyi Zhao was added to the ASBMB staff to oversee and develop numerous UAN directives. Zhao’s addition was instrumental in moving the UAN mission forward. In addition to her other duties within the ASBMB education department, she serves as a conduit for the UAN within the ASBMB. Her assistance has been invaluable, and support from the ASBMB has been crucial to the success of the UAN.
The UAN now has grown to include 55 chapters within the six UAN regions. Currently, UAN regional directors include Ann Aguanno of Marymount Manhattan College  and Quinn Vega of Montclair State University (Northeast), Marilee Benore of the University of Michigan-Dearborn and Todd Weaver of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse (North-Central), Joseph Provost of Minnesota State University Moorhead (Northwest), David Bevan of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and Takita Sumter of Winthrop University (Southeast), Benjamin Caldwell of Missouri Western State University (South-Central), and Neena Grover of Colorado College and Tester Baird of San Francisco State University (Southwest).

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