Peter J. Kennelly, the new chairman of the Education and Professional Development Committee, gives an overview of the committee's goals and introduces three new committee members.
The first thing you may have noticed is that the author of this article is not Ellis Bell. Following a long and successful tenure as chairman of the Education and Professional Development Committee, Ellis stepped down. However, his energy and enthusiasm will continue to make an impact, as he has agreed to stay on as a regular member of the EPD.
So, Who Is the New Guy?
My name is Peter Kennelly, and I currently am head of the biochemistry department at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. In addition to having several million dollars in extramurally funded research and approximately 30 doctoral students, our department is home to more than 500 undergraduate biochemistry majors. For the past 20 years, I have served as a career adviser for our students, using a one-hour elective course of my own design to address the challenges of effectively serving a large student body. Although I don’t have all the answers, my job as department head keeps me well aware of the many challenges American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology members face. I will do my best to serve you well.
What Is the EPD?
The EPD’s role is to devise ways in which ASBMB can aid students, postdoctoral trainees and young professionals as well as the people who mentor and educate them. A major partner in these efforts is theUndergraduate Affiliate Network.
The Challenges Ahead
As noted by ASBMB President Suzanne Pfeffer, the educational and employment landscape for science has undergone dramatic changes to which we must adapt. It is more important than ever that we find ways as a community to nurture the curiosity and enthusiasm of nascent scientists by supporting quality science education and participating in science outreach at the K-12 level. Professional preparation must incorporate new skills that reflect the growing importance of careers in the commercial/industrial sector and the burgeoning of interdisciplinary research.
One of our primary goals is to find ways to connect with the students who represent the future of our society. If future biochemists and molecular biologists are to see ASBMB as their professional society, we must reach them when they are forming their professional identity— in college or perhaps even earlier. To do so, we are working to make the EPD website an accessible and attractive resource for information on the full spectrum of biochemistry and molecular careers. EPD members are partnering with other educators to develop and disseminate resources to serve science teachers in the form of core concepts and skills, laboratory and classroom exercises and assessment tools. Extending ASBMB recognition to undergraduate degrees in biochemistry and molecular biology is under consideration as a means for both fostering educational excellence and highlighting the relation between the ASBMB and a student’s college major.