Training Mentors at the Biotechnology-Society Nexus in Responsible Innovation

Project Overview

NC State’s Molecular Biotechnology Training Program (MBTP) is a campus-wide graduate level training network that is designed to: 1) Ensure technical proficiency and training in responsible and rigorous science; 2) Provide an educational and professional experience that satisfies graduates’ expectations; and 3) Foster robust PhD graduation outcomes.

While the MBTP has excelled in training students to develop the technical skills of molecular biology, the social aspects of biotechnology continue to present a challenge to realizing the transformational opportunities of modern biology. Our students need to be prepared for these complexities, and they continue to demonstrate significant interest in gaining communication and conceptual skills that will help them navigate the intersection of biotechnology and society in their future careers. MBTP faculty trainers share these interests, and this program is designed to provide mentoring in this realm. Moreover, if we are to prepare students to become the next generation of biotechnologists, we need to train our mentors to develop knowledge and perspectives that encourage students to reflect on the social context of the science and technology they pursue. Recent attention to issues of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) highlight important aspects of the social dimensions of science and technology; these themes are quite historical in the field of molecular biology and genetics, making this initiative both timely and important.

Workshop Series

Faculty pairs (1 natural scientist; 1 social scientist) will lead seven workshops for MBTP faculty trainers/mentors. Workshop themes will address intersections of biotechnology and society, considering how mentors can understand and incorporate social, ethical, and policy issues into their formal and informal interactions with MBTP trainees. Each 90-minute workshop will include a presentation, question and answer session, and facilitated breakout discussions to reflect upon applying the presented material to mentoring interactions.

Additionally, this workshop series will lay the foundation for the next phase of training in which groups of MBTP faculty mentors and their trainees will develop modules about specific controversies in biotechnology. Using their identified topic, each team will be charged with developing case materials in the form of a module that could be used in courses that explore social, ethical, and political issues in the life sciences. All teams will present their cases in a GES Colloquium, a weekly gathering of faculty and students in the GES community, which MBTP faculty and students will attend. Case studies will be available as modules for the existing RCR course in the MBTP, as well as other training programs in the life sciences at NC State and beyond.

Learning Objectives

After attending this workshop series, participants will be able to:

  • Identify key social, political, and ethical issues that surround biotechnology.
  • Explain why social, political, and ethical issues are important for advisees’ professional development.
  • Address social, political, or ethical issues with their advisees with increased confidence.
  • Identify the resources to integrate social, political, and ethical issues into their advisees’ training.

Participant Resource Portal

Members of the MBTP Faculty Mentors program may access the resource portal here.

Workshop Organizers

Jason-Delborne-300x300Dr. Jason Delborne is a Professor in Forestry and Environmental Resources, Director of the Science, Technology, and Society (STS) Program, a University Faculty Scholar, and a member of the GES Center's Executive Committee. email | profile
Photo of Martha Burford ResikindDr. Martha Burford Reiskind is a Research Assistant Professor in Biological Sciences and Director of the Genetics & Genomics Scholars Graduate program. email | profile
Barnhill-Dilling-Katie-200x200Dr. Katie Barnhill-Dilling is a Senior Research Scholar with the GES Center and the newest member of our Executive Committee. email | profile
Bob Kelly_thumbDr. Robert (Bob) Kelly is the Alcoa Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Director of NCSU Biotechnology Program. email | profile page
Jason-Haugh-300x300Dr. Jason Haugh is a Professor and University Faculty Scholar in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. email | profile

Workshops will generally be held on the 2nd Friday of each month (with a couple of exceptions) from 2:30-4 PM in Poe 202.