National Professional Science Master's Association


(Nominees listed in alphabetical order)

Dagmar Beck received an associate business administration degree in Mannheim, Germany, and using her language skills she was able to pursue a career with several international corporations in Germany and the U.S. involved in import and export, international trade, and banking. Following her true interest in the fields of teaching and education, she redirected her career after returning from a three-year stay in Singapore. First she worked for a private language school in Houston in 1997, then accepted a position with Rice University in 2002, while at the same time continuing her own education in the U.S. and earning a B.A in German with a minor in World Culture and Literature from the University of Houston in 2010.

Since accepting a position with Rice, Dagmar has facilitated the growth of Rice’s Professional Science Master’s program collaborating with students, faculty across campus and with corporations involved in now five program tracks.

In recognition of her successful program management, she was contracted by the Brown School of Engineering to oversee the ten professional master’s programs there starting in Fall 2012. She developed a marketing strategy for these programs to increase enrollment, and built a professional development program for the students to prepare them better for industry and business, this included the development of a cultural workshop for international students in collaboration with OISS, CCD and Jones School. Furthermore, she devised strategies to build a community for the students to integrate them better into the departments and the school and its student body. Dagmar successfully trained a new staff to follow into her footsteps after end of the contract assignment in 2017.

With her focus fully returned to manage the Professional Science Master’s program in the School of Natural Science in fall 2017, she not only oversees admissions, enrollment, course development, and e-education activities, but is also active in developing of new focus areas in collaboration with faculty and industry representative. She conducts recruitment, builds corporate relations, coordinates marketing and program promotion, advises and guides her students to become successful professionals. She administers and manages the budget of the program, and is actively involved in grant writing and track development.

Dagmar has been involved in the National Professional Science Master’s Association (NPSMA) since its start-up in 2007, and has served as Vice- President in 2010, President in 2011 and as Immediate Past President in 2012. She has served as committee chair on several committees over the years leading the 2nd National NPSMA Conference committee organizing a highly successful conference in Atlanta in 2010. She served on the conference committee for the 2012 conference.

Dagmar is also a member of various professional organizations, such as WEN, GSA and NAGAP.

Statement of Interest

With my responsibility shifting again after having completed additional duties under contract with the Brown School of Engineering at Rice University, my focus has returned to solely supporting the five PSM programs housed in the Wiess School of Natural Science. Having somewhat reduced responsibilities will allow me to seek a position on the NPSMA board again willing to commit the time required to serve and be actively involved.

I have been involved with NPSMA since its inception in 2007, and served on the board for many years, in many capacities and on various committees, including in the capacity of Vice President in 2010, President in 2011, Immediate- Past President in 2012.

Dagmar Beck Curriculum Vitae 

Gerald B. Grunwald, Ph.D., is Dean of the Jefferson College of Biomedical Sciences at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, PA.  A Jefferson faculty member since 1985, Dr. Grunwald assumed his current position in September 2010.  In addition to serving as Dean of JCBS, he is currently tenured Professor in the Department of Pathology, Anatomy and Cell Biology, in the Sidney Kimmel (formerly Jefferson) Medical College.  Dr. Grunwald was born in Brooklyn, NY and attended public schools there and later in Port Washington, NY.   He received his BA cum laude in Biology from Cornell University and his MS and PhD in Zoology from the University of Wisconsin.  Prior to joining Jefferson, he was engaged in postdoctoral studies as a Senior Staff Fellow at the National Institutes of Health.

As Dean of the Jefferson College of Biomedical Sciences, Dr. Grunwald serves as the chief academic and administrative officer of the college, with responsibility for the planning and execution of its education and training mission.  Dr. Grunwald has been active in research and training in the field of cell and developmental biology of the eye.  His work has been published in over fifty peer-reviewed papers and invited book chapters, with research support provided primarily by the National Eye Institute of the NIH.  His laboratory has served as a training venue for many MS and PhD graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.  He has served on numerous research grant review panels for federal and private agencies, including as Chair of the Visual Sciences C study section of the NIH.  Additional research recognition has included his election as Chair of the Gordon Conference on Cell Contact and Adhesion and appointment to a Burroughs Wellcome Visiting Professorship.  

Dr. Grunwald has a strong record as an academic leader and his commitment to education is well recognized by students and senior administrators alike.  In his thirty years at Jefferson, he has been instrumental in the development and delivery of educational and training programs in both the Sidney Kimmel Medical College as well as the Jefferson College of Biomedical Sciences. He has served as director of MS and PhD graduate programs, as director of numerous graduate and medical college courses, and in development of policies for postdoctoral training.  Recognition of his role in education has included the Lindback Foundation Award for Distinguished Teaching, Honorary Life Membership in the Jefferson College of Biomedical Sciences Alumni Association, the Dean’s Citation for Significant Contributions to the Advancement of Education at Jefferson Medical College, the Faculty Award for Neuroscience Education of the Ph.D. Program in Neuroscience, the Distinguished Mentor Award of the Jefferson Postdoctoral Association and Office of Postdoctoral Affairs, the Teacher of the Year Award from the Freshman Class of Sidney Kimmel Medical College, and award of the Sidney Kimmel Medical College Senior Class Portrait in 2014.

Dr. Grunwald has served on and chaired numerous committees within Jefferson, and is currently chair of the university’s Institutional Biosafety Committee and the Committee on Conflict of Interest and Commitment.  He has also served as chair of the Committee on Research, and has held leadership positions on several committees dealing with accreditation and strategic planning efforts.  

Statement of Interest

Thank you very much for the opportunity to describe my interest in serving as a member of the Board of Directors of the National Professional Science Master Association.  It would be an honor to do so.  Along the journey from my own time as a Master’s and later PhD student, as well as the many years of service as a member of the graduate faculty here at Jefferson engaged in the teaching and training of graduate students, to my current service as Dean of our College, I have had the privilege of seeing from multiple perspectives both the opportunities and challenges in the arena of Masters-level graduate education.  I have seen how this has evolved both in purpose and perception over the years.  In particular, in our dynamically changing academic environment, Professional Science Masters programs are positioned at a critical nexus to serve as models for the future of graduate training in a manner that will serve not only the needs and expectations of our students, but also of their future employers and the community at large.  We, as academic leaders, have a responsibility to ensure the continued development and maintenance of education programs that bring quality and value to all stakeholders.  I look forward to the opportunity to serve on the NPSMA Board, not only for the chance to share my experiences and perspectives with colleagues, but even more importantly, to learn from the larger PSM community and its leadership, regarding how we can continue to transform this sector of graduate education to best serve those who seek to be a part of it, including our students, faculty, and employers of our graduates.  Given my wide purview of responsibility as Dean, I also have a special interest in how the lessons learned from the PSM movement can be more widely applied to other sectors of the academic continuum.  Thank you very much for the opportunity to share these thoughts, which I look forward to acting upon, if given the opportunity to serve.

Gerald B. Grunwald Curriculum Vitae 

Heidi Harkins is the Executive Director of the Professional Science Master’s programs at UNC-Chapel Hill.  Heidi has worked as a business consultant and program manager in a variety of sectors including health care (UNC Health Care), financial services (Wells Fargo), government (NC Department of State Treasurer) and non-profit (Jacaranda Health).  Heidi worked in secondary education beginning with her undergraduate years as a tutor with Harvard Upward Bound and as a science teacher at St. Paul’s School and in the Peace Corps.  Heidi earned her AB in Biology from Harvard University, her PhD in Genetics and Molecular Biology from UNC-Chapel Hill and her MPH from Gillings School of Global Public Health at UNC-CH.  Her graduate research on cell polarity has been published in Molecular Biology of the Cell, Molecular and Cellular Biology, and Cold Spring Harbor Symposia on Quantitative Biology

Heidi is using her life sciences training and her work experiences to guide PSM program development at UNC-Chapel Hill.  She has built the PSM program at The Graduate School at UNC-CH from a concept to a thriving office supporting three PSM programs:  Toxicology, Biomedical and Health Informatics, Digital Curation.  

Statement of Interest

My best friend wanted several years ago to redirect his career path from software engineering towards material sciences.  He was looking for an opportunity to return to school part-time to earn an applied degree in something related to materials science where he could be effective in the workforce.  While researching opportunities my friend was struck by the lack of options for applied, workforce-directed, master’s programs in the sciences.  I learned about Professional Science Master’s programs after his unsuccessful search for an appropriate program and have been a fan of the PSM concept ever since! 

I have served NPSMA as a member of the 2016 NPSMA pre-conference workshop organizing committee, The Power of PLUS. As part of this committee, I coordinated the design of a survey to PSM leaders to understand PLUS course content and pedagogy.  I am currently co-organizer of the 2017 NPSMA pre-conference workshop, Marketing your PSM Program.

I would welcome the opportunity to broaden my service to the PSM community as a member of the Board of Directors and guide the ways that NPSMA supports the needs of our many excellent PSM programs.  This is an exciting time in graduate education as our graduate academic institutions are pushed to offer training appropriate for a variety of careers.  PSM programs have been at the forefront of the initiative to provide relevant knowledge, skills and experience for the workforce.  As the workforce rapidly evolves, opportunity and challenge will be presented for PSM programs to remain relevant.  I would enjoy being part of a team to ensure PSM programs and directors are supported in their efforts to keep pace with these changes.

Heidi Harkins Curriculum Vitae

Mark Jakubauskas is the Director of Science Programs at the University of Kansas Edwards Campus in Overland Park.  Prior to joining the Edwards Campus in 2013, Dr. Jakubauskas was an associate research professor with the Kansas Biological Survey and courtesy associate professor with the KU Environmental Studies Program.   He developed and launched the first PSM (in Environmental Assessment) at the University of Kansas in 2012-13, and continues to serve as the Director of Professional Science Masters Programs at KU.  Since 2014, he has been charged with developing additional new PSM programs at KU to serve workforce needs of the Kansas City metro area, as well as relevant certificates, accelerated bachelors-masters degree programs, hybrid and online programs, and creating new collaborations with the University of Kansas Medical Center academic programs.  He received his PhD in 1994 from the University of Kansas, specializing in landscape-to-regional-scale vegetation mapping and change detection using time-series satellite remote sensing imagery. 

Statement of Interest

The PSM, and the NPSMA, have been and will continue to be, an engine of innovation within higher education.  Certainly, the concept of a PSM was a rather radical concept over twenty years ago when the first PSM was created and launched – professional skills courses?  An internship/capstone project rather than a thesis?  External advisory boards?   Fast-forward to the present, and the expanding number of PSM programs and graduates across the country are strong indicators that the PSM concept is valid and that innovation successfully could occur within graduate science education in the US.  The NPSMA should continue to lead the charge on creative and forward thinking in higher education, and I want to be a part of that charge.  Based on our experiences with the PSM and its offshoots at the University of Kansas, I believe that I have something to contribute to the NPSMA in the role of board member.

Mark Jakubauskas Curriculum Vitae 

Al Kern is an associate and consultant to the Biotechnology programs at California State University San Marcos (CSUSM).   He previously served as Founder and Director of Biotechnology Programs, Director PSM programs, Adjunct Faculty, Associate Dean and Interim Dean at CSUSM. He retired from CSUSM to become Executive Chairman, CEO and President of Pasteuria Bioscience, Inc. that concluded in successful product introductions and acquisition by Swiss-based Syngenta before returning to CSUSM.

After service in the U.S. Army and completing graduate school, Dr. Kern began his career as a scientist at Monsanto Company where he served as the first product manager, developing Roundup herbicide, and later became Director of Product Development. He resided in Tokyo for four years, assigned to build a commercial development organization for Monsanto Asia.

With a vision of biotechnology, he helped start Mycogen Corporation, an agricultural biotech company in San Diego He was Executive Vice President from start-up and IPO to its rise to a $1.2B market cap and sale to Dow Chemical Company. Since that time, he has been involved in several start-ups and continues corporate advisories.  He and his wife live in Del Mar, CA but continue to own and manage the Illinois family farm.

He holds a B.S. and M.S. from Southern Illinois University and a Ph.D. from Michigan State University. Among his awards, Dr. Kern received Honorary Doctorate of Science from both Southern Illinois University and California State University and an Honorary American FFA award.

Statement of Interest

I am willing and committed to serve the NPSMA Board for a three-year appointment, if elected. I have the support of my administration and colleagues at California State University San Marcos.

My interest in a PSM-type of degree started in my undergraduate and graduate student years as I took minor studies in the business schools on all three degrees. After a 30-year career in the life science industry, I joined California State University San Marcos to start the biotechnology programs in one of the top biotechnology regions of the world. My favorite program is our Master of Biotechnology, a Professional Science Master's degree.

I have been a member of NPSMA and the PSM effort since the beginning of the Sloan Foundation grants, the California State University in tiatlve, and the first NPSMA inaugural meeting. It would be my pleasure and honor to serve the organization that stands for the Professional Science Master's program.

Al Kern Curriculum Vitae 

Deborah Silver is the Executive Director of the Professional Science Master’s Program at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey on all three campuses (Newark, New Brunswick & Camden). This program offers the Master of Business & Science (MBS) degree which is a combination of a science master’s with courses in business. She has been with the program since its inception and helped found and build the program to include all areas of science and technology. She is also a Professor in the Dept. of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Rutgers, a post she has held since 1988. Her area of research is in Visualization and she is an active member of the IEEE Visualization community, serving on various steering and program committees.

Statement of Interest

I am interested in serving another term on the board of the NPSMA as I am very involved in promoting the PSM initiative and would like to continue in an official capacity. I have many more ideas to help grow and strengthen the movement. When I was part of the NPSMA board, I initiated and helped create the joint financing model to help unify the PSM message. I currently host the “Ask NPSMA” call.

Deborah Silver Curriculum Vitae 

Inge Wefes was educated at the University of Tübingen, Germany, followed by postdoctoral training and an instructorship at Harvard Medical School. She joined the University of South Florida (USF) as Assistant Professor in 1998, and in 2000, as Director of Program Development in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at USF’s Medical School, she took on a leading role in science graduate education. She initiated the development of a dual degree program, PhD-Plus, which allows biomedical PhD students to earn concurrently a Master’s degree in, for example, business or public health. In this effort, she was also the driving force for establishing three Master’s programs: Bioethics, Bioinformatics, and Biotechnology. The latter two were recognized as the first two Professional Science Master’s Programs (PSM) in the State of Florida. As Associate Professor at USF (2009), Dr. Wefes was Director and Student Advisor/Mentor of two dual degree programs (PhD-Plus and a Dual Master’s in Biotechnology and Entrepreneurship), two PSM programs, and three Graduate Certificate Programs.

In addition to research on the molecular aspects of Alzheimer’s disease, she was also actively engaged in teaching and course development and served as course director and instructor of six graduate courses and one undergraduate course. In collaboration with local industry, Dr. Wefes led the PSM Program in Biotechnology to become one of the finalists for the Annual Industry Achievement Awards of the Tampa Bay Technology Forum. In 2011, USF’s College of Medicine rewarded her innovative drive and commitment to science education with the inaugural award for “Innovation in Teaching”. Dr. Wefes served on multiple boards including the PSM Advisory Board of the National Council of Graduate Schools, the State-wide Initiative for The Promotion of PSM Programs in the State of Florida, and as Advisor to The Governor’s Task Force for The Study of Biotech Competitiveness. She is currently serving a second term on the Board of the National Professional Science Master’s Association (NPSMA) and was co-chair of the NPSMA annual conference in 2013 and 2016.

 In 2012, Dr. Wefes became Associate Dean of the Graduate School at the University of Colorado Denver|Anschutz Medical School. There, she pioneered new outreach efforts in the form of Mini-Schools where faculty educate interested lay people about issues related to STEM disciplines, Public Affairs, Public Health and more, and founded the first Colorado Chapter of the National Academy of Inventors and the Colorado Council of Graduate Schools. At CU, she also developed and directs a Master's Program in Biomedical Sciences & Biotechnology, the first PSM Program in the University of Colorado System.

In 2013, she became one of 10 Principal Investigators (now 17) of the NIH BEST Award for "Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training". In this function, she initiated and co-developed multiple professional and career development workshops that train pre/postdoctoral fellows in skills that will increase their competitiveness for jobs inside and outside academia, addressing teaching, presenting, entrepreneurship, leadership, critical thinking, project management and more. The Academic of Medical Educators at CU just recognized her efforts to promote the success of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows with the Academy’s 2017 Educator Award for Mentoring and Advising. 

Statement of Interest

I have been involved with the PSM movement since I developed the first two PSM Programs in the State of Florida in 2003 and 2007. I was a member of the PSM Advisory Board of the National Council of Graduate Schools and of the National Professional Science Master’s Association (NPSMA) and co-chair of the NPSMA annual conference in 2013 and 2016. After moving to the University of Colorado Denver|Anschutz Medical Campus in Summer 2012, I initiated and drove the development of a Master’s Program in Biomedical Sciences & Biotechnology which was recognized as the first PSM Program in the CU System and enrolled its first students in Fall 2015. I currently serve on the Board of Directors of the NPSMA and would be honored to continue my service and use my experience as an educational entrepreneur and pioneer to advance the mission and goals of the National Professional Sciences Master’s Association.

Inge Wefes 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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