The department of Molecular and Cell Biology is in fine fettle, having weathered another challenging year while marking notable successes by faculty, staff, and students.
Our undergraduates have had a fine year: the 150 MCB honors students and university scholars have won 39 SURF awards (Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships). Eight of our MCB students are among the 17 University Scholars named this year, and one of our students has been named a Goldwater Scholar, one of 417 awarded nationwide. Similarly, our graduate student programs are strong and have remained robust during the pandemic. At present we have about 119 graduate students in our various graduate programs at the Ph.D. and MS levels. One interesting trend is the growing number of MCB Ph.D. students who are simultaneously earning an MBA degree from the School of Business. In just the past year, two of our doctoral students have completed these two programs.
In terms of research support, we have continued to produce new grant proposals at a rate that belies the stresses of the pandemic, and to date in this academic year, these efforts have attracted awards totaling more than 3 million dollars. Some of our faculty are also engaged in research that is translational, with several MCB research programs working to transform scientific discoveries into products, therapies and diagnostics.
We have established new undergraduate summer research fellowships and support significant financial aid for our PSM students. This is possible with the help of some substantial donations from friends of MCB.
This year we have also successfully recruited a new faculty member to the Microbiology AOC, and are engaged in an ongoing search for a new faculty member in the Structural Biology, Biochemistry and Biophysics AOC.
Faculty excellence has also been recognized in a wide variety of ways including two Fulbright Scholar awards (Lynes and Teschke), election to the Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences (Teschke), with a Board of Trustees Professorship and election to the Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences (R. O’Neill), and selection as the Edward C. Math mentorship award (Knecht).
Administratively, the department is in transition, with the anticipated shift in faculty serving as department head and associate heads of the department. I am pleased to share that Dr. Carolyn Teschke will serve as head of MCB, and Drs. Victoria Robinson and Danial Gage will serve as associate heads. MCB is looking to a bright future with these capable stewards. I’d like to close with an expression of my sincere thanks to the many faculty, staff and students who have made my tenure as head both interesting and rewarding.