National Professional Science Master's Association

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Slate of Candidates: National Professional Science Master's Association (NPSMA)

2019 Board of Directors

(Nominees listed in alphabetical order.)

(Eligible voting members may vote for up to 4 nominees and will receive an e-ballot on October 9, 2018.)

Natalie Bosecker is the Director of the Illinois Professional Science Master’s program at the University of Illinois, overseeing coordination for six majors in two colleges: Agricultural Production, Bioprocessing & Bioenergy, Food Science & Human Nutrition, Geographic Information Science, Plant Biotechnology, and Technical Systems Management. She works closely with the academic advisors, administrators, and IL PSM staff to market and recruit for the program, advise and support current students, and create community with students and alumni. Natalie co-teaches the plus seminars for PSM students and also co-teaches a class on law and regulations for scientists and engineers. This fall marked the 10th co-hort for the IL PSM program.

Natalie began working with the bioenergy major when recruitment began in 2009. After supporting the bioenergy major, she was asked to support all PSM students in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, providing internship and career search support, building student community, creating an event to showcase the students’ internship experiences, and extra recruiting support. She became the director of the program in 2014.

Prior to her involvement with the IL PSM, Natalie had a diverse communications and marketing career. After completing a B.S. in Agricultural Communications from the University of Illinois, Natalie was on the communications team at USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, in Washington, DC. In addition to writing press releases and speeches, Natalie served on the crisis communications team – with the ability to be anywhere in the U.S. to be a liaison between scientists and the media during agricultural pest or disease outbreaks. (Think JJ on Criminal Minds in the early seasons.) She travelled throughout the country teaching scientists crisis communications skills – working with the media and creating a message.

During nine years at the State 4-H Office for University of Illinois Extension, Natalie coordinated all media activities, coordinated educational materials for youth, adult volunteers and staff, and served as webmaster for approximately 6,000 files. While at this position, Natalie completed a non-thesis Master’s in Agricultural Education. Her research project was on-line training for a non-traditional audience.

Each of these experiences provides context and real-life examples for Natalie to help prepare PSM students for his/her future.

Currently Natalie is a member of the 2018 NPSMA pre-conference workshop committee and last year joined the NPSMA Steering Committee, now known as the Commission on Affiliation of PSM Programs.

Statement of Interest

Seeing the impact that the PSM can have with students is very rewarding. I believe that the PSM is one way for Higher Ed to address the ever-increasing changes that students will experience in the workforce. I would welcome the opportunity to serve on the NPSMA National Board to address and support the needs of the PSM community.

I have enjoyed participating in committees at the national level. I am excited for the opportunity to learn from other colleagues, while sharing my experiences in order to help shape and grow the PSM throughout the nation.

Natalie Bosecker Curriculum Vitae 

Rana Khan has extensive experience in graduate higher education administration and teaching focused on a broad demographic of students. After her PhD in Molecular and Cell Biology from the University of Maryland at College Park, she conducted research for several years at the US Department of Agriculture on soybean plant pathogens. While working there, she took an adjunct teaching position with University of Maryland University College (UMUC), teaching online biotechnology courses for a Master’s program for working professionals.

A few years later, she joined UMUC full-time as program director of Biotechnology. One of the first things she engaged in was developing and assembling an Advisory Board. One of her colleagues mentioned about Professional Science Master’s programs and realizing that it was a perfect fit for the program she was heading, she convinced the school to apply for the designation. Later, upon her recommendation, several other programs within UMUC applied and received the PSM designation. That was the beginning of her involvement with PSM and later with NPSMA that continues to this day.

Along the way she has written and published articles on PSM program development, been awarded grants from the US Department of Education earmarked for PSM programs and launched initiatives for PSM students. She has presented at several NPSMA annual meetings and for the last three years has served on the NPSMA Board of Directors and the Conference Planning and Awards committees. She is the chair of the 2018 conference planning committee.

Statement of Interest

I was first introduced to the concept of Professional Science Master’s (PSM) in 2006/07 in my role as the director of biotechnology program at the University of Maryland university college (UMUC). Since then, I have become a firm believer in the value of an interdisciplinary, professional degree that prepares students to transition straight to the workforce after graduation. I have had the privilege of serving on the National Professional Science Master’s Association Board for the last three years and learn first-hand the passion and the commitment that the board members bring to drive this movement forward. The Board has strategic goals that the members work on and I would very much like to continue to be part of as we move towards taking PSMs to the next stage of recognition, growth and expansion. Although I recently started a new position at Yeshiva University (YU) I am able to commit time to serve on the NPSMA board for another term, if reelected. Another reason is the huge interest at YU to develop new programs as interdisciplinary, professional degrees and to successfully apply for PSM designation.

Rana Khan Curriculum Vitae 

Kristin Kuter is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science at Saint Mary’s College, in Notre Dame, IN. She is currently serving as Director of the PSM affiliated Master of Science in Data Science program at Saint Mary’s. Kristin has been a faculty member at Saint Mary’s since 2009. Her background is in probability theory, where she is specifically interested in understanding the properties and behavior of the random process known as Walsh’s Brownian motion. However, Kristin has also been involved in many diverse projects related to data and modeling, ranging from the collection and analysis of data on the health and education of girls in the state of Indiana, to modeling copper interactions with proteins in the human body. She received her BA in mathematics from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, in 2003, and her PhD from the University of California – San Diego.

Statement of Interest

I am honored to be considered as a possible Board member for the NPSMA. I have been involved with the PSM program at Saint Mary’s since the beginning, co-authoring a successful grant proposal to financially support the development of the program, then taking on the development of the applied statistics sequence in the program, to ultimately taking over as Director in June of 2015, the summer before we launched the program. Throughout that process, and continuing today, I have recognized the benefits to my institution of the PSM affiliation for our program, and in taking on the role of Director have learned of the benefits to both my institution and myself of the NPSMA membership for myself. Specifically, I have learned so much about directing my PSM program by attending the NPSMA annual conferences and pre-conference workshops. The support and knowledge base provided to me by my membership has been invaluable.

While I see the benefits, I do not feel that other stakeholders at my institution do, and certainly the PSM brand is not as widely recognized as it should be. I have been happy to serve as the state representative for Indiana in the PSM4RST8 campaign launched by the NPSMA this past year. My involvement in that campaign as well as my interest in serving on the Board is tied to my desire to see the PSM brand grow in recognition and reputation. If elected to serve on the Board I welcome the opportunity to give back to the Association and contribute to its success and ultimately the success of PSM programs across the country.

Kristin Kuter Curriculum Vitae

Avril Robertson is Biotechnology Program Director at the School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences, University of Queensland. Originally from the Shetland Islands in the UK, she moved to St Andrews on mainland Scotland to pursue “Chemistry with Industry Master of Chemistry degree. This included an Industrial placement in Basel, Switzerland with Ciba Agrochemicals. As top student of her year Avril was awarded several prizes. She continued her studies to be awarded PhD in bio-organic chemistry in 1999 from the University of St Andrews. Her PhD also involved 4 month placement at the ETH with Professor Andrea Vasella in Zurich.

Avril pursued an industrial career, and has 10 years experience, in the UK across three companies. From 1999-2000 she was Senior Scientist/Project leader, Tripos Discovery Research Ltd., where she led and managed contract research projects for small and large pharmaceutical companies. In 2006 she moved to ThermoFisher Scientific to work in research validation for scale-up division. In 2007 she took up a position as Preclinical Project Leader and Senior Medicinal Chemist at Cyclacel Ltd. In Dundee (an oncology drug discovery company) focused on drug discovery and project management. Based on her own experience of industrial placement in her undergraduate degree, she was keen to promote industrial opportunities for undergraduate students and set-up industrial placement schemes in the companies where she worked. She supervised large numbers of year in industry students and conducted outreach in schools over her 10 year industrial career.

Keen to combine her passions of research and teaching, she emigrated to Brisbane, Australia in 2011 with her husband and young family to work at The University of Queensland and they are now Australian citizens. Professor Robertson’s research is in the area of novel therapeutics. In 2015, her work on anti-inflammatory therapeutics resulted in founding of a new company “Inflazome” in Ireland to progress these novel molecules to the clinic for diseases such as Parkinson’s Disease and asthma. She has remained in research and teaching and has additional research interests in cancer therapeutics and antifungal/antimicrobial drug discovery. Avril has gained qualifications in secondary and tertiary teaching and in higher education leadership. Based on her international industrial and academic career experiences she is particularly passionate about work integrated learning and about student opportunities to develop work based skillsets. She also has a strong desire to support students who have come from remote communities (national or international) in transition to tertiary education and work.

Statement of Interest

I am excited about the prospect of serving as a member of the National Professional Science Masters Association Board of Directors. My undergraduate industrial experience was the most daunting but valuable experience in my degree. It was the first time I crossed the boundary of the research environment into the professional workplace to interact with company employees. This experience certainly helped me to gain employment in industry and I therefore strongly believe in industry experiences to accelerate employability of graduates. My international experience of industry and academia combined with mentorship and teaching at both secondary and tertiary levels gives me a deep appreciation of the professional skillsets we need to instill in the students (and staff) we have the privilege to guide and teach. The University of Queensland Biotechnology PSM students are truly international from very diverse demographic. I came from one of the most remote Scottish islands, I have moved across the world and appreciate first hand the challenges our students face. I am very proud to direct our PSM programs at the University of Queensland and celebrate the success of our PSM graduates. I believe by devoting my time to the NPSMA board I can use my diverse background experiences for the overall benefit of the global PSM student cohort.

Avril Robertson Curriculum Vitae 

Jennie Willis, Ph.D., teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in animal behavior and oversees the Professional Science Master’s program in Zoo, Aquarium and Animal Shelter Management at Colorado State University (CSU). She and her graduate students conduct applied research to benefit the lives of animals in captive settings. Her special research interest is in improvement of adoption rates of cats through enrichment, evaluation and training. She has been in charge of the PSM program since 2013. She was instrumental in creating new courses to fill the needs of students in the program and re-designing the curriculum. Dr. Willis also created a path for CSU undergraduates to complete their Biology or Zoology degree and the PSM degree in 5 years. She created the network of cooperating partnerships for this program across a diverse field from its beginning.

Dr. Willis earned her PHD in Zoology, with an emphasis in animal behavior in 2005. She held a position in College of Veterinary Medicine at CSU teaching Applied Animal Behavior until 2013. She has years of experience managing, fundraising and writing grants for non-profit animal organizations and brings her real-world experience to management of this program. She owns Animal Behavior Insights, LLC a consulting company for pets with problem behaviors. She spent ten years interpreting wildlife to visitors in service to our National Parks as a ranger during her undergraduate and graduate years. All of these skills have helped shape and guide the development of the PSM program at CSU. In her spare time, Dr. Willis enjoys spending time with her family hiking, swimming and adventuring in the Colorado Mountains.

Statement of Interest

I would like to be considered for an NPSMA Board Position. I have been the program coordinator for Colorado State University’s first PSM degree,  specialization in Zoo, Aquarium and Animal Shelter Management, since August 2013. I was on the advisory board for this degree since the beginning, during the time the degree was formed and went through the approval process. I originally was an instructor, teaching one of the core courses, Applied Animal Behavior in Captive Populations. I have known each of the students that have come through our program and have enjoyed the opportunity to welcome them into the animal field as colleagues upon graduation. Now as their advisor and overseeing the program, I have been able to create coursework to best prepare them for their future careers. I am happy to say that almost all of our student had career positions this year before graduation.

The PSM degree is what I would have chosen had this been available to me earlier in my career. I have sought out each of its elements in my own life independently, and found it amazing that my background in running non-profits and a small business, my public speaking and interpretation skills and my scientific research skills would all be relevant in advising students one degree program. All of the disparate experiences of my life come together in one package of experiences now to help my students grow into wise, knowledgeable professionals. I enjoy  creating relationships with mentors on behalf of my students, knowing how much both will learn from each other. Every day, I get up so happy to begin my time with these students, undertaking the important work of moving forward in the field of animal welfare.

Last year, I had the opportunity to work with Ramona Mellott on organizing the 6MP competition to showcase the graduate student works of PSM students across the country. It helped me see the diversity of programs and the interesting work that PSM students are undertaking. It also helped me recognize that there was an opportunity to give back, helping other PSM students and programs grow. I was excited to be approached about the opportunity to serve on the national board for a degree program that I believe is so important and fundamental to creating well rounded students capable of making innovative changes to their field. I would be honored if you were to choose me to fill a place on the board. I have recently reorganized my workload since we now have more PSM students and serving on the PSM board would align nicely with my professional development plan. I am willing and able to make time to be involved with board service.

Thank you for your consideration.

Jennie Willis Curriculum Vitae 

National Professional Science Master's Association is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, P.O. Box 1822, Lawrence, KS 66044

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