Project:New Biology Fellows Program In Animal And Plant Production
PI: Rodriguez Zas, Sandra.
Grant Number: 2012-38420-30209
Non Technical Summary There is an urgent need for “new biologists” skilled in systems biology to integrate information and mine large and complex data sets and secure food-producing animal and plants that can adapt, reproduce, and grow sustainably in changing environments. Few scientists possess firm systems biology, informatics, statistics and animal or plant science know-how to translate the new biology into improved U.S. agricultural production. To address this challenge, our overall approach is to establish a New Biology Fellows Program (NBFP) in Animal and Plant Production at the University of Illinois. The overall project goals are to: 1) offer a model graduate education program on the application of systems biology to animal and plant production, and 2) graduate a diverse group of Fellows with core scientific, communication and leadership competencies that will increase the quality and diversity of the workforce. Specific measurable objectives are: I) recruitment with emphasis on underrepresented groups, and graduation of a diverse cadre including 2 M.S. and 2 Ph.D. National Needs Fellows, and II) provide the Fellows with multidisciplinary, systems biology training and hands-on research. The Fellows training includes a) multidisciplinary up-to-date curriculum, b) research with proven and productive Faculty mentors, c) teaching, d) public engagement, and e) fostering professional, communication, decision making, and leadership skills. Rigorous evaluation of the progress of the NBFP and Fellows twice a year includes face-to-face interactions with fellows and mentors, and surveys. The impacts are the enhancement of the diversity and skills on systems biology applied to agriculture of the workforce.