Forging Integrated Expertise in Graduate Education

June 4 – 5, 2018 | Raleigh, North Carolina
Keynote Speakers | Laura Regassa | Terri Lomax

We live in an interconnected world, with complex problems, emerging technologies, and limited resources. As noted in the National Science Foundation’s 10 Big Ideas for Future NSF Investments:

The grand challenges of today — protecting human health; understanding the food, energy, water nexus; exploring the universe at all scales — will not be solved by one discipline alone. They require convergence: the merging of ideas, approaches and technologies from widely diverse fields of knowledge to stimulate innovation and discovery.

This workshop was originally conceived as a Capstone Symposium for the NC State NSF-IGERT “Genetic Engineering and Society: The Case of Transgenic Pests” that had equal contributions from the natural and social sciences. It would be a place to celebrate accomplishments and share valuable lessons learned. As time went by though, this idea grew into something more.

An integrated, transdisciplinary approach to graduate student training was more than simply a feature of the program, it was its core. Our students became “T-shaped” — equally adept at thinking about and solving problems around policy and governance as they are with biomathematics and synthetic biology.

At the same time, programs were being developed in other places around issues like plant science, engineering, and artificial intelligence. What insights and experiences could they share with institutions and organizations?

The workforce of tomorrow will require deep integration on issues, not disciplines. And we, as academics, industry professionals, civil servants, and stakeholders, have a responsibility to prepare our students for the challenges that lie ahead.

At A Glance

What is this symposium about?

Get an in-depth look at graduate programs focused on developing professionals equipped to solve specific, complex challenges using integrated, convergent approaches.

  • Day 1 | Diverse Experiences in Integrated Graduate Education
  • Day 2 | Workforce Needs and the Way Forward

Who Should Attend?

University faculty and administrators, researchers, government administrators and policymakers, industry and NGO professionals, funders, and innovative thinkers.

Symposium Dates:

Monday, June 4 – Tuesday, June 5, 2018 

  • Day 1 | 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM + Happy Hour!
  • Day 2 | 8:00 AM – 2:00 PM


Symposium Webcast videos on YouTube


This workshop is being offered at no cost thanks to support from our sponsors!

Event Location:

Talley Student Union, NC State University, Raleigh, NC

Talley Student Union | Credit: Josh Meister Photo

Talley Student Union | Credit: Josh Meister Photo

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Day 1 | Diverse Experiences in Integrated Graduate Education

June 4 | 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

8:00 AM  | Breakfast

8:30 AM  |  NC State Welcome

Zachary Brown, NC State, Genetic Engineering and Society Center

Warwick Arden, NC State Provost

Richard Linton, NC State, Dean of CALS

8:50 AM  |  STEM Graduate Education: Advancing Knowledge & Transforming the Future

Laura Regassa, Director, NSF National Research Traineeship (NRT) Program

Read More
Graduate education will continue to evolve as we consider how best to prepare students for a dynamically shifting workforce that is often responding to sweeping technological changes. Convergent research and training that supports scientists coming together across disciplines to develop creative and innovative solutions is a critical part of this culture change. This talk will reflect on recent recommendations for graduate education, National Science Foundation priorities, and the role that the NSF Research Traineeship Program is playing in our understanding of innovative training models and best practices.

Table Discussions: Response to Keynote

9:45 AM |  Branches from the Same Tree: Integrative Learning in Higher Education 

Pamela L. Jennings, Head, Department of Art + Design, NC State (incoming), and NASEM Committee Member for the report: The Integration of the Humanities and Arts with Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in Higher Education: Branches from the Same Tree (2018)

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Integrative discovery across disciplines in the Arts, Humanities, and STEMM requires reflection about how forms of inquiry converge to create paths for new knowledge. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) consensus report, The Integration of the Humanities and Arts with Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in Higher Education: Branches from the Same Tree supports the premise that a holistic approach to learning is requisite for the preparation of tomorrow’s leaders. Integrative learning prepares students to become our future workforce of global citizens who are equipped to invoke a more comprehensive and inclusive cultural perspective to problem solving and solution finding. This presentation will provide an overview of the recommendations from the NASEM report in context of initiatives that have been funded by the National Science Foundation to support integrative learning and research across the fine, applied, and performing arts and STEM.

Table Discussions: Response to Report

10:20 AM | Coffee Break

10:45 AM |  Experiences from the NC State IGERT PhD program 

Fred Gould, NC State, Genetic Engineering and Society Center: "IGERT - Genetic Engineering and Society: The case of transgenic pests," 2011-2017. Student speakers to discuss cohort goals and outcomes, as well as personal experiences, challenges, and interdisciplinarity:

11:05 AM | 2012 Cohort: Mosquitoes & Human Health

Genetically Modified Mosquitoes (GMM) Dengue Control in a Social and Cultural Context
Amanda Walsh
, Senior Economist, RTI International

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Dengue is one of the many human diseases transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito. The first student cohort investigated the potential of GM control techniques for both mosquito population suppression and population replacement in efforts to combat these diseases. In their introductory book chapter, “Transgenic pests and human health: A short overview of social, cultural, and scientific considerations,” featured in Genetic Control of Malaria and Dengue, the cohort explored these issues and concluded that, while improving dengue treatment should be prioritized in the short-term, research on GMM control techniques should continue due to its wide ranging implications for other mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria, chagas, west-nile, etc. They also highlighted the need to maintain an open dialogue with all interested publics throughout all processes, specifically the research, policy, regulation, and implementation phases.

A Look Back at the IGERT’s Role in Shaping My Career as a Math Professor
 Tim Antonelli, Assistant Professor of Mathematics, Worcester State University

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Having completed my third year as an assistant professor of statistics and probability at a liberal arts university, I share my personal perspective—as well as insights from my employer—on the various ways that the IGERT has shaped my career. The interdisciplinary graduate training continues to influence my interactions with students and faculty, creating opportunities that allow me to adopt new roles at a university that values interdisciplinary learning. I reflect on my experiences and the lessons learned to make suggestions for how future interdisciplinary graduate training programs might also hope to succeed.

11:25 AM | 2013 Cohort: Invasive Rodents and Biodiversity Conservation

Exploring the biological, ecological, and social implications of genetic techniques for invasive rodent eradications on islands
Megan Serr
, PhD Candidate, Biological Sciences

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The second IGERT cohort examined the potential use of a genetic tool to remove invasive house mice from islands, where non-native species pose an increased threat to biodiversity. To consider the application of gene engineering for conservation purposes, the cohort incorporated the perspective of multiple fields from the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences with the goal of communicating our collective knowledge with publics. Rather than seeking consensus, the cohort shared our varying viewpoints via a website as well as a publication in the Journal of Responsible Innovation. As a team and individually, cohort members have also presented at several conferences and performed community outreach to increase input and engagement with respect to this emerging technology.
Integrating the Humanities and the Sciences: What it Looks Like in Practice
Elizabeth Pitts
, Assistant Professor of English, University of Pittsburgh
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As support for interdisciplinary education grows, conversations in academia and beyond are beginning to shift from the question of whether to integrate multiple fields of study, to the question of how to facilitate successful integration. As a recent report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine noted, incorporating the humanities and arts into graduate training in the sciences, engineering, and mathematics can foster improved communication, teamwork, critical thinking, and the ability to translate knowledge to real-life applications, among other skills. However, successful commingling of the humanities and the sciences remains rare. This presentation draws on NC State University’s IGERT program to offer examples of what this type of collaboration can look like, how successful integration can be achieved, and what benefits it can produce for students, researchers, employers, and broader publics.

11:45 AM | 2014 Cohort: Agricultural Pests

Genetic Pest Management for Agricultural Insects
Jennifer Baltzegar
, PhD Candidate, Genetics

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Using Mexico as a model, the third IGERT cohort focused on the complexities surrounding the use of genetic engineering (GE) that may exist in agricultural pests. Mexico accepts the use of GE crops (e.g. soy and cotton), but does not allow GE maize to be planted because of its cultural importance to the region. By acknowledging the complicated relationships which exist between genetic engineering and society across many levels, the cohort produced two publications that highlight important concepts to address when considering the development and deployment of gene drive insects for agriculture.

Navigating Worldviews, Crossing Boundaries, and Finding a Safe Place: How the IGERT Fellowship Influenced My Graduate Experience
Jayce Sudweeks
, PhD Candidate, Public Administration

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From my perspective the most important aspect of learning is discovering and examining the mental models that influence how I interpret the world and then being able to modify them based on experience, theory and research, and personal interaction. This presentation discusses how the interdisciplinary nature of the IGERT program at NC State University challenged my understanding of how science, culture and society interact when addressing social issues and how these ideas influenced my dissertation research.

Table Discussions: Response to IGERT Cohort presentations

12:30 PM | Lunch

Buffet lunch

1:00 PM  | Poster Session


1:45 PM |  Toward transferable and sustainable models for interdisciplinary training in environmental sustainability

Jeff Kelly, Aerobiology, University of Oklahoma | NRT - Aeroecology as a Test-bed for Interdisciplinary STEM Training

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There is a long-standing need for convergence among institutions and individuals interested in solving urgent environmental problems that impact human well-being and ecosystem health. Nonetheless, models for creating this convergence have been slow to materialize. Initiatives often falter when they try to grapple with the complexity of wicked problems at scales that would drive societal change. A consistent concern in these initiatives is a shortage of diverse results-oriented leaders with the interdisciplinary training needed to assemble and guide teams to make progress when confronted with complexity. We are attempting to create an effective training program to produce these leaders. I will describe the development and implementation of our interdisciplinary model for training students in Aeroecology and our efforts to use this platform to understand the constraints on broadening participation in graduate training programs. We also are working with the University of Delaware and the University of Nebraska to test the transferability of these ideas among institutions. I will reflect on ways that our program is succeeding and failing to provide students with the tools they need to tackle the most pressing problems at this interface.

2:05 PM |  Graduate Education Informed by Social Network Analysis

Sez Atamturktur, Engineering, Clemson University | NRT: DESE - Preparing Resilient and Operationally Adaptive Communities through an Interdisciplinary, Venture-based Education

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Overview of a transformative approach to graduate education program on Resilient Infrastructure & Environmental Systems (RIES) at Clemson University funded by the NSF National Research Traineeship (NRT) program. Clemson’s NRT responds to the urgent need for professionals capable of crossing disciplinary boundaries to (1) assess technological and societal risks, (2) communicate those risks to decision makers, and (3) devise strategies that improve community resilience. Our focus—identifying and mitigating the vulnerabilities of complex, critical, and interdependent infrastructure systems—is important both nationally and globally, as the growing scale and interconnectedness of critical infrastructure systems rapidly escalates societal vulnerabilities. There are two interrelated education theories underlying the activities in our NRT RIES project: one which describes development of individual skills and another which focuses on skills for working effectively in teams (taken together, we propose to prepare competent individuals within learning communities). The first education theory focuses on preparing competent, well-prepared individuals. Such agents are capable of making good choices about their learning, specifically the efforts devoted to developing technical competency. Individual learning programs are particularly influenced by social networking—our second education theory. When teams tackle the social and technical interdependencies of difficult, real-world problems (such as infrastructure vulnerabilities), they generate collective creativity, learning, adaptability, and productivity that is beyond the capacity of the individual. Within social networks, interdependent agents grow their individual and collective influence and competence (i.e., “agency within complexity”). That is, individuals learn best when they are embedded in interactive, interdependent networks of individuals called complex systems. In this presentation, Dr. Sez Atamturktur will overview the implementation of Clemson’s NRT RIES program, including securing institutional commitment, developing faculty working-groups, implementing trainee recruitment strategies, engaging trainees in project implementation, establishing the advisory committee, ensuring sustainability of the project, and using social network analysis to guide the execution of the project to achieve its goals.

Table Discussions: Response to speakers

2:40 PM  |  Coffee Break


3:10 PM |   Transdisciplinary, Parallel Play, or Something in Between?

Rebecca Jordan, Ecology and Citizen Science, Rutgers University | NRT - Coastal Climate Risk and Resilience (C2R2)

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In the United States, about 23 million people live within 6 meters of sea level. In many parts of the country, sea-level rise has already led to a 2-5-fold increase in the rate of ‘nuisance’ flooding. On top of rising seas, intensifying hurricanes and more frequent extremes of heat, humidity and precipitation pose additional risks to coastal societies, economies and ecosystems. Many factors, ranging from topography and biodiversity to land-use patterns and social networks, affect the vulnerability and resilience of people, ecosystems, and the built environment along the coast. Thus, building coastal resilience requires integrating expertise from many fields, ranging from urban planning to climate science and oceanography, from engineering to sociology and economics. The Coastal Climate Risk & Resilience (C2R2) initiative prepares graduate students to meet this challenge through its trainee and certificate programs. I will discuss major successes, challenges, and future plans for this program based on reflections from the past two years.

3:30 PM |   Fostering the Future from FFAR

LaKisha Odom, Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research

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As the world’s population is estimated to reach 9.7 billion by 2050 and exceed 11 billion by 2100 , a period of unprecedented challenges is emerging exacerbated by the decrease in available resources presenting a number of “wicked problems” in Agriculture and Environmental fields. These challenges will demand bold innovative solutions that will require concerted efforts from diverse fields, including many science-focused disciplines, engineering, and social science. The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, as a core component of its mission, seeks transformative discoveries from the best and brightest scientists to identify and investigate the researchable questions whose answers have the potential to enhance the economic and environmental resilience of our food supply as part of the Foundation’s Fostering the Future initiative, a suite of programs designed to build a strong, collaborative food and agriculture workforce. I will reflect on both on the importance of interdisciplinarily trained professionals and the ways in which they will be an asset to the workforce in a number of disciplines, as well as examples of how FFAR is supporting students and early-career researchers, as FFAR strives to inspire the next generation of scientists to pursue careers that help put nutritious food on every table, now and in the future.

Table Discussions: Response to speakers

4:05 PM  |  Preview of Day 2

4:15 PM  |  Adjourn

4:30 PM  |  Poster Session + Happy Hour (until 6 PM)

Internal and external student posters, followed by Drinks and Heavy Hors D'oeuvres at 1887 Bistro @ Talley Student Center

Day 2 | Workforce Needs and the Way Forward

June 5 | 8:00 AM - 2:00 PM

8:00 AM  | Breakfast

8:30 AM  | Announcements, Recap of Day 1

Zachary Brown, NC State, Genetic Engineering and Society Center

Jason Delborne, NC State, Genetic Engineering and Society Center - Morning moderator

8:45 AM  |  Keynote: The Future of Innovation: Workforce Needs and the Way Forward for Graduate Education

Terri Lomax, CEO, Innovation Ecosystem

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Addressing the convergent issues and grand challenges that face society today requires creating a new generation of innovators, whether that be for generating new technologies, unique approaches to social problems, or innovating next generation graduate training. Rapidly changing workforce needs (e.g. the necessity of skills to cope with big data, or the ability to be “bi- or multi-lingual” across the social, physical, and natural sciences) has been met with many innovations in graduate education, including Professional Science Masters, graduate minors and certificates, interdisciplinary programs, and training in professional development, innovation and entrepreneurship. I will discuss both these innovations and the challenges that remain, especially with respect to developing flexibility, diversity, and integration in doctoral programs.

Table Discussions: Response to Keynote

9:40 AM |  Meeting the challenges of integrative doctoral program initiatives

Brian Verrelli, VCU Integrative Life Sciences

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Solving problems today in the life sciences requires approaches that draw on multiple disciplines. Students trained with this interdisciplinary vision need to combine expertise in technological skills, big data analytics and management, and written and oral communication to generate a workforce that seamlessly moves between academics, policy, and non-scientific communities. The success of any approach that builds across disciplines requires acknowledgment that these training initiatives cannot be met by single academic units. The Integrative Life Sciences (ILS) doctoral program at Virginia Commonwealth University is designed with a philosophy that draws on resources University-wide to meet these challenges.

Table Discussions: Response to Speaker

10:15 AM Coffee Break

10:30 AM  | Panel Discussion: Workforce Needs

Hear perspectives on how the needs of the workforce have evolved from representatives from diverse fields and sectors:

WELCOME: Chancellor Randy Woodson, NC State

MODERATOR: Zachary Brown, NC State, Genetic Engineering and Society Center

Government  David Price, 4th District, NC Congressman

University Development | Stephen Briggs, Plant Sciences Initiative

Industry Corey Scott, Cargill

NGOs | Maggie Monast, Environmental Defense Fund

Regulatory | Sheryl Kunickis, Office of Pest Management Policy, USDA

Q&A: Response to Panel

11:45 AM  | Where Do We Go From Here? 

Fred Gould and Zachary Brown, NC State, Genetic Engineering and Society Center

12:00 PM | Lunch with Break Out Groups

Boxed lunches provided

12:30 PM | Break Out Groups Discussion

Moderated by GES faculty, scribed by IGERT students

1:20 PM  | Reconvene and Report Out

1:50 PM  |  Overview and Perspective

Jennifer Kuzma, NC State, Genetic Engineering and Society Center

2:00 PM  | Adjourn 

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DAY 1 | Laura Regassa, National Science Foundation

Dr. Laura Regassa is a Professor of Biology at Georgia Southern University. She is currently on assignment at the National Science Foundation as a Program Director in the Division of Graduate Education. At the NSF, she is a program officer for the NSF Research Traineeship (NRT) Program.

Dr. Regassa served as the director of a graduate student training and professional development program at Georgia Southern, the Molecular Biology Initiative. She has a Ph.D. in bacteriology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with past and present content-area research interests in bacterial pathogenesis, biodiversity and systematics. Prior to her assignment at the NSF, Dr. Regassa served as Editor-in-Chief for an international educational journal and held numerous leadership roles for national, regional and international professional organizations.

Learn more about Laura Regassa >

DAY 2 | Terri Lomax, CEO, Innovation Ecosystem

Terri L. Lomax, Ph.D., has over three decades of experience developing and leading innovative programs in academia, government, and nonprofit organizations and facilitating partnerships between those organizations and industry to form thriving innovation ecosystems. Until recently, as Executive Vice President at RTI International, a nearly billion dollar non-profit research institute, she led their innovation, laboratory science, and engineering programs.

As the Vice Chancellor for Research, Innovation, and Economic Development at NC State University, Terri led the research enterprise, technology transfer, and university-industry partnerships. Under her leadership, NC State experienced record levels of external research funding and commercialization agreements; implemented a national best practice model for partnering with industry; and became the only university in the nation to house two National Science Foundation Engineering Research Centers. Via strategic allocation of institutional research funding, she drove the success of the research and innovation enterprise to impact social benefit and economic development. As Dean of the Graduate School at NC State, Terri led the development and implementation of a strategic plan for graduate education that increased career-oriented skills training and professional development options, grew the number of professional degrees, and provided interdisciplinary and international opportunities that enhanced its ability to recruit and retain the best and brightest graduate students.

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Prior to NC State, Terri led all of NASA’s research and technology development for human space exploration and served as a senior policy advisor to the NASA administrator. A noted researcher in the areas of space biology, plant sensory genomics and hormone action, as a professor at Oregon State University for 20 years, Terri ran a successful research program in cellular and molecular biology, developed new graduate programs, and designed and directed public outreach programs in biotechnology issues and K-12 science education.

Terri is currently chairs the Board of Directors of Innovate Raleigh, an organization that she co-founded in 2011 to act as a catalyst, connector, and convener of innovative enterprises and thinkers in Raleigh and the Research Triangle. She also serves on the Raleigh Performing Arts and Convention Center Commission, is a board member for the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, and on the Executive Committee of PowerAmerica.

Learn more about Terri Lomax >

Sez Atamturktur, Clemson University

Dr. Sez Atamturktur serves as the Assistant Vice President for Research Development and Provost’s Distinguished Professor at Clemson University. Dr. Atamturktur is a professor of environmental engineering and earth sciences, professor of mechanical engineering, professor of industrial engineering, and professor of civil engineering. She is the director of the National Science Foundation-funded National Research Traineeship project at Clemson, with funding for over 30 doctoral students and a goal of initiating a new degree program on scientific computing and data analytics.

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Dr. Atamturktur's research, focused on uncertainty quantification in scientific computing, has been documented in over 100 peer-reviewed publications in some of the finest engineering science journals and proceedings. Her research has received funding from several federal agencies including the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy, the Department of the Interior, Department of Transportation, the Department of Education, and the Los Alamos National Laboratory, as well as industry organizations and partners, such as the National Masonry Concrete Association and Nucor. She serves as the director of the National Science Foundation-funded Tigers ADVANCE project, which focuses on improving the status of women and minority faculty at Clemson. In addition, Dr. Atamturktur is also the director of a Department of Education-funded Graduate Assistantship in Areas of National Need project that provides funding for 10 doctoral students.

Dr. Atamturktur is one of the four co-directors of Clemson’s Center of Excellence in Next Generation Computing and Creativity. Prior to joining Clemson University, Dr. Atamturktur served as an LTV technical staff member at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Learn more about Sez Atamturktur >

Pamela Jennings, College of Design, NC State

Pamela L. Jennings, PhD, is the incoming Professor and Head of the Department of Art + Design in the College of Design at NC State. She is the Principal Researcher of CONSTRUKTS, Inc., an NSF-funded consumer electronics research company developing mixed-reality and wireless technologies for learning. Pamela served as a committee member on the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine 2018 consensus report, The Integration of the Humanities and Arts with Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in Higher Education: Branches from the Same Tree.

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Pamela held the first joint professorship appointment between the School of Art and the Human Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. She later served as an NSF Program Officer in the Computer, Information Science & Engineering Information and Intelligent Systems division (CISE IIS) where she led the CreativeIT program and co-led the Human Centered Computing program. Pamela led several special initiatives at higher education institutions aimed to support faculty, students, and emerging professionals involved in integrative research and practice. She was the Inaugural Director of the Shapiro Center for Research and Collaboration at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). The Shapiro Center provided faculty mentoring, funding, and institutional policy development support for research and civic engagement activities. As the Director of the University of North Carolina system Center for Design Innovation (CDI) and Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Pamela led the transition of the center into its dedicated facility in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. As Director of the Advanced Research Technology (ART) Lab at the Banff New Media Institute (BNMI) in Banff, Canada and visiting faculty in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Calgary, Pamela transformed the ART Lab into a place for scholarship and creativity with an international post-graduate cohort who worked at the intersecting borders of their disciplines in software development, electronics, computational design, rapid prototyping, virtual reality, games, and animation.

Pamela L. Jennings received her PhD in Human Centered Systems Design at the University of Plymouth (UK); MBA at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business; MFA in Computer Art at the School of Visual Arts; MA in Studio Art in the International Center of Photography/New York University Program; and BA in Psychology at Oberlin College.

Learn more about Pamela Jennings >

Rebecca Jordan, Rutgers University

Dr. Rebecca Jordan is currently a Professor of Environmental Education and Citizen Science and the Director of Program in Science Learning at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. She currently studies how people reason with data in formal and informal learning contexts. Dr. Jordan received her Bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from the University of Connecticut and her Master’s and Doctorate degrees in organismic and evolutionary biology from the University of Massachusetts – Amherst. Dr. Jordan also completed post-doctoral work at Princeton University and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill on the topic of ecology and evolutionary biology.

Learn more about Rebecca Jordan >

Jeff Kelly, University of Oklahoma

Dr. Jeff Kelly is a Professor of Biology at the University of Oklahoma, and Director of the Oklahoma Biological Survey. His research interests center on the ecology and conservation of migrant birds. He is fascinated by the way these animals’ life histories depend on environments at continental and hemispheric scales. The unique combination of their relatively small size (10 to 20g) and long distance movements also make these migrants fantastic sensors of the environment and potentially very valuable real-time indicators of our impact on the environment at large spatial scales. Dr. Kelly's current research is summarized on his website AnimalMigration.org.

Learn more about Jeff Kelly >

Lakisha Odom, Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research

Lakesha Odom

Dr. LaKisha Odom joined FFAR in September 2016 as a Scientific Program Director to pursue her commitment to promoting the use of innovative science and interdisciplinary thinking to tackle today’s complex challenges in food and agriculture. She is also extremely committed to cultivating increased diversity in a new generation of food and agriculture scientists.

Dr. Odom developed her passions for the inter-sectional space of research and policy while working at the U.S. EPA in the Office of Research and Development and the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response’s Brownfield’s Redevelopment Program. In her academic career at Tuskegee University, she continued to seek out opportunities to work in interdisciplinary and collaborative science, as a Create-IGERT fellow and as a researcher at Teagasc Research facility in Carlow, Ireland.

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She then had the opportunity to combine her passion for interdisciplinary innovative research and policy when selected to serve as an Early Career Intern for the Public Policy Board of the American Phytopathologicial Society. In 2013, Dr. Odom became an AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow at the USDA Biotechnology Regulatory Service where she managed a diverse portfolio which included working with the OECD Working Group for the Harmonization of Regulatory Oversight in Biotechnology.

Dr. Odom received her B.S. in Environmental Science from Tuskegee University, her M.A. in Environmental Resource Policy from The George Washington University and her Ph.D. in Integrative Biosciences from Tuskegee University.

Learn more about LaKisha Odom >

Stephen Briggs, Plant Sciences Initiative, NC State

Steve Briggs joined NC State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences in August 2017 as the NC Plant Sciences Initiative (NC PSI) Launch Director. As Launch Director, Briggs has oversight of the 184,000 square foot PSI Building, is assembling the inaugural research project teams, and developing partnerships that will establish North Carolina as a world leader in plant sciences. Prior to joining NC State, he was the Senior Vice President of Agronomy and Corporate Marketing for South Dakota Wheat Growers (SDWG), the largest farmer owned cooperative in the United States.

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Steve’s career began as an Extension Entomologist at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. From there he joined American Cyanamid Company (AmCy) in Des Moines, Iowa, where he rose to the position of Vice President and General Manager of Specialty Products, concentrating in non-crop businesses such as pest control, turf, and forestry. He has also held senior executive positions at BASF, Cheminova, and TyraTech.

Steve has served as chairman of two boards – Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment (RISE) and Consolidated Sourcing Solutions (CSS) – and as an ex-officio member of the Strategic Outlook Committee for CropLife America. He also has served on the boards of numerous agricultural organizations, and is currently a member of the Security Seed and Chemical Board in Clarksville, TN.

Learn more about Stephen Briggs >

Sheryl Kunickis, USDA Office of Pest Management (OPMP)

Dr. Sheryl Kunickis is the Director of the USDA Office of Pest Management Policy (OPMP). She has served in this position since May 2010. She represents USDA’s interests in FIFRA-related matters and is the USDA representative on the Pesticide Program Dialogue Committee (PPDC), an EPA Federal Advisory Committee. In 2013, she was Acting Director in the Office of the Chief Scientist, and from 2008 to 2010, Director of the NRCS Remote Sensing Laboratories (RSLs). Prior to assuming leadership for the RSLs, she served at the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) as Deputy Assistant Director for Agriculture, Lands, and Wildlife.

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From 2002-2007, she served as the National Agricultural Research Coordinator and was responsible for managing the Partnership Management Team (PMT), now known as the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), where she was responsible for the national priority research needs. She was a core member of the Agricultural Drainage Management Systems Task Force, which is focused on improving the quality of drainage waters in the Midwest. In 2003-2004, she was selected as a Department of Commerce Science and Technology Fellow.

Dr. Kunickis received her Ph.D. in Soil Science from NC State University; her M.S. and B.S. in Agronomy were earned at Brigham Young University.

Maggie Monast, Environmental Defense Fund

Maggie Monast is the Senior Manager for the Agricultural Sustainability program at the Environmental Defense Fund. She works with farmers, food companies, agricultural organizations and others to create an agricultural system that drives climate stability, clean water, and food security. Her team quantifies the farm financial impacts of conservation practice adoption, collaborates with major corporations to develop sustainability initiatives, and develops innovative financial incentives to advance sustainable agriculture. Maggie received her undergraduate degree in political science and economics from Tufts University and a Masters in Environmental Management from Duke University’s Nicholas School.

Learn more about Maggie Monast >

Congressman David Price

Congressman David Price represents North Carolina's Fourth District - a rapidly growing, research-and-education-focused district that includes parts of Orange, Durham, and Wake counties. David Price was first elected to Congress in 1987, representing North Carolina's Fourth District. He received his undergraduate degree at UNC-Chapel Hill and went on to Yale University to earn a Bachelor of Divinity and Ph.D. in Political Science. Before serving in Congress, Price was a professor of Political Science and Public Policy at Duke University. Among his many honors, Price was named a "Champion of Science" by the Science Coalition, was awarded the Charles Dick Medal of Merit by the NC National Guard, and is a recipient of the American Political Science Association's Hubert H. Humphrey Public Service Award.

Learn more about David Price >

Corey Scott, Cargill

Dr. Corey E. Scott is a Principal Nutrition Scientist with Cargill in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Corey has previously worked for General Mills in Golden Valley Minnesota focusing on vegetable intake, phytochemicals, and human health. Prior to this, Corey worked as Global Nutrition Manager for Lipid Nutrition B.V., in The Netherlands, focusing on clinical research on novel lipids for infant nutrition, weight management, and diabetes.

Dr. Scott holds a PhD in Food Science and Nutrition from The Ohio State University, an MS in Chemistry from North Carolina A&T State University, and a BA in Chemistry from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Brian Verrelli, VCU Integrative Life Sciences

Dr. Brian Verrelli is Director of the Center for Life Sciences Education, which houses the Integrative Life Sciences Doctoral Program and Master’s degrees in Environmental Studies and Bioinformatics, at Virginia Commonwealth University. His research program focuses on using molecular population and evolutionary genetic approaches to address problems in human health and disease, biodiversity, and conservation.

Learn more about Brian Verrelli >

Tim Antonelli, Worcester State University

Dr. Tim Antonelli is an Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Worcester State University where his work focuses on statistics and probability. Tim graduated from N.C. State University in 2015 with a PhD in Biomathematics and was a member of 2012 IGERT Cohort which focused on Mosquitoes and Human Health. While at NCSU, under the advisement of Drs. Alun Lloyd and Fred Gould, he developed mathematical models for novel control strategies of the dengue vector Aedes aegypti, such as releasing mosquitoes infected with Wolbachia, a bacterium that can spread through a population of Ae. aegypti and has been shown to block transmission of dengue virus. The international experience and focus on interdisciplinarity provided by participation in the IGERT program broadened his horizons, and he soon found himself immersed in a foreign culture during the first cohort’s time in Peru, learning Spanish, and eventually returning to pursue research experiments and guest lecture on math models at a Peruvian university.

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IGERT classes and discussions at NC State provided unique experiences in examining the non-mathematical aspects of predictive models, such as public communication and the ethics of genetic engineering. This unique background has allowed him to connect with students of diverse backgrounds and better communicate the variety of real-world applications that mathematics has to offer.

Tim Antonelli grew up in Wilmington, NC. Thinking to combine his interests in math and biology, he chose to study biomedical engineering at Duke University. After receiving his bachelor’s degree, he worked as an engineer for several years, but ultimately felt distant from his original passions. Thus, he decided to attend the biomathematics doctoral program at NC State and while there to participate in the GES IGERT program.

Jennifer Baltzegar, PhD Candidate Genetics

Jennifer Baltzegar is a PhD Candidate in Genetics. She is a member of the 2014 IGERT Cohort which focused on Agricultural Pests. Her current work focuses on the population genetics of the insect pest species Aedes aegypti (Yellow Fever Mosquito) and Sitophilus zeamais (Maize Weevil). The 2014 cohort traveled to Mexico during the summer of 2014 to learn about the social and biological implications of genetic engineering in the country, particularly as that relates to the cultural importance of maize. Jen returned with fellow cohort member Mike Jones in the summer of 2016 to Oaxaca and Chiapas, Mexico, to conduct field work aimed at better understanding maize weevil (MW) impact on farming families and communities. She has worked with her cohort to write a paper geared toward an interdisciplinary audience titled Anticipating Complexity in the Deployment of Gene Drive Insects in Agriculture. She and her fellow cohort members also contributed to a correspondence in EMBO Reports titled CRISPR-based Gene Drive in Agriculture Will Face Technical and Governance Challenges. Both publications highlight the complex landscape that must be considered if and when gene drives are deployed for control of agricultural pests.

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Jennifer Baltzegar was born in Georgia, where she grew up with a strong appreciation for biology and the natural world. She completed her Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology at the College of Charleston. She then worked as a technician for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources at the Marine Resource Research Institute before returning to the College of Charleston to earn a Master of Science in Marine Biology. Following completion of her master’s degree she accepted a job as a Research Analyst at Duke University. Ultimately ennui set in and she entered the Graduate Program in Genetics at North Carolina State University to embark on a new challenge.

Elizabeth Pitts, University of Pittsburgh

Dr. Elizabeth Pitts is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh. Her research blends rhetorical theory, organizational studies, and science studies to examine how technologies influence the nature of professional work and professional identity. Her current book project offers insights into a movement to make the coding of DNA as pervasive as the coding of software. By drawing parallels between the composition of genetically engineered organisms and the composition of persuasive speech and writing, the book facilitates humanistic inquiry into the material practices undertaken in biotechnology laboratories.

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Elizabeth graduated from N.C. State University in 2016 with a PhD in Communication, Rhetoric and Digital Media and was a member of the 2013 IGERT Cohort which focused on Invasive Rodents and Biodiversity Conservation. Elizabeth’s interdisciplinary IGERT collaborations have enabled her to develop a thorough understanding of genetic technologies, focusing on case studies including the release of genetically engineered mosquitoes to control the Zika virus, malaria, and dengue fever, and the potential application of genetic engineering for conservation purposes. Elizabeth also formerly served as a postdoctoral researcher with NC State’s Genetic Engineering and Society Center, contributing to scholarly conversations in organizational and environmental communication by exploring how negotiations of meaning influence the organizing of genetic engineering governance systems. She has co-authored research with geneticists, ecologists, and policy scholars, among others. Her work is informed by her decade of experience as a professional writer and speechwriter at the White House, the US Department of Education, and the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Megan Serr, PhD Candidate Biological Sciences

Megan Serr is a PhD Candidate in Biological Sciences. She is a member of the 2013 IGERT Cohort which focused on Invasive Rodents and Biodiversity Conservation. Her research is focused on characterizing genetic and behavioral differences between Mus musculus strains in collaboration with the Genetic Biocontrol of Invasive Rodents program (GBIRd) which aims to suppress invasive mouse populations on islands, by heavily biasing offspring sex ratios. Effective implementation of this approach will depend on engineered hybrid mice being competitive and able to mate successfully. Megan’s behavioral and genetic tests use wild house mice derived from an invasive population on the Farallon islands (MmF), a laboratory strain C57BL/6/129 (tw2), and hybrid wild-lab offspring.

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In 2013, the 2013 Cohort traveled around the Farallon islands, which is also where Megan and Dr. Lisa McGraw returned to collect live wild mice for their behavioral research. Along with her fellow cohort members, Megan created a website that describes thoughts and ideas surrounding the potential for a genetic technique that would create a male biased-population, hence causing the invasive rodents in a particular area to die off. Megan also had the opportunity to develop and co-teach an undergraduate course with fellow cohort member, Elizabeth Pitts. The course, Ethics of Biotechnical Communication, spent several weeks exploring genetic pest management strategies and included several members of the genetic engineering and society center as guest speakers.

Megan Serr grew up in Southern California where she developed a love for nature and conservation, particularly towards amphibians. She earned her Bachelor of Science in biology as well as her teaching licensure from California State University San Bernardino. After graduation she began teaching biology and environmental science at the high school level. Then while continuing to teach high school she earned her Master of Science in biology from the University of Nebraska. With her masters she then expanded into teaching at the university level as well as working at NCSU as a laboratory-teaching technician. With a strong desire to perform both research and teaching Megan entered the IGERT program at NCSU.

Jayce Sudweeks, PhD Candidate Public Administration

Jayce Sudweeks is a PhD Candidate in Public Administration. He is a member of the 2014 IGERT Cohort which focused on Agricultural Pests. His current research investigates the public policy process and how the narratives created by various groups supporting or opposing biotechnology influence policy decisions. In 2014, Jayce participated in the International Genetically Engineered Machine Competition (iGEM) where his team won the Best Policy & Practices Project award. He has participated in several workshops hosted by the GES Center including: Graduate Professional Development Workshop: Intersections of Genetics and Society, USDA Stakeholder Workshop on Coexistence, and the Roadmap to Gene Drives: A Deliberative Workshop to Develop Frameworks for Research and Governance. Jayce was an assistant editor for the special edition of the Journal of Responsible Innovationthat published peer-reviewed articles from the Roadmap to Gene Drives workshop.

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Jayce’s experiences in the IGERT program have helped identify for him the complex and conflicting milieu in which important biotechnology policy decisions are made and how difficult this can be. His current and future research will attempt to understand how this complexity is generated and how differing coalitions can come to agreement on important technologies that will better the life of mankind.

Jayce Sudweeks was raised in Twin Falls, Idaho. He spent two years in Costa Rica and Panama on a Spanish speaking mission. Jayce graduated from Brigham Young University with a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Molecular Biology. His research focused on mapping the genes that caused the mouse form of Multiple Sclerosis. During this time, he was an author on nine peer-reviewed publications, including a first author publication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. After graduation, Jayce spent seventeen years in private industry in a variety of jobs focused on business process engineering, program and project management, and computer systems analysis. Most recently, Jayce worked as an IT production support manager for a global supply chain company. The potential that science and technology had to improve lives and relieve suffering never strayed far from Jayce’s mind, and when the opportunity presented itself he enrolled in the Public Administration PhD program at North Carolina State University. His goal was to understand how bureaucracy, policy and politics influence the deployment and regulation of biotechnology.

Amanda Walsh, RTI International

Dr. Amanda (Clayton) Walsh is a Senior Economist in the Innovation Economics group at RTI International. In her role, she analyzes the benefits and costs of public policy initiatives relating to innovation, technology and infrastructure improvements, and education and workforce training. Amanda graduated from NC State University in 2016 with a PhD in Economics and was a member of the 2012 IGERT Cohort which focused on Mosquitoes and Human Health. Her graduate research focused on using insights from applied microeconomics to study the impacts and control of mosquito-borne disease. Her GES collaborations studying the potential use of genetically modified mosquitoes to combat dengue fever culminated in the co-authorship of the introductory chapter of the text, Genetic Control of Malaria and Dengue, edited by Zach Adelman.

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Amanda Walsh grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, IL. She received her bachelor’s degree in Economics from Illinois Wesleyan University in 2010, graduating Summa Cum Laude and with research honors. She entered the Economics PhD program at N.C. State that fall, with the intention of studying development economics. Her passion for carrying out policy-relevant economic research through cross-cultural and interdisciplinary collaboration lead her to take master’s level coursework in cultural anthropology, and eventually to join the IGERT-funded GES program.

Fred Gould

Co-Director of GES Center and Distinguished University Professor, Entomology and Plant Pathology

Jennifer Kuzma

Co-Director of GES Center and Goodnight-NC GSK Foundation Distinguished Professor, School of Public and International Affairs

Zachary Brown

Assistant Professor, Agricultural & Resource Economics

Jason Delborne

Associate Professor, Science, Policy, and Society, Forestry & Environmental Resources

Todd Kuiken

Senior Research Scholar, Genetic Engineering and Society Center

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Workshop supported by the National Science Foundation NSF Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship  (Award No. 1068676), NC State College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and the Genetic Engineering & Society Center.


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