GLOBES Graduates Demonstrate Novel Interdisciplinary Research
Since 2011, 28 GLOBES students have earned graduate degrees in their home departments while finishing certificate requirements associated with GLOBES-IGERT fellowships and the current GLOBES Certificate in Environment and Society. GLOBES students integrate an interdisciplinary research component into their primary research under the mentorship of an advisor from a discipline outside of their major field.
GLOBES students share a desire to broaden their graduate education by acquiring additional knowledge and skill sets from a secondary field of study. That common goal is manifested in a number of ways. Several examples follow.
Becca Love, PhD Biological Sciences (Advisor: Nora Besansky) Becca’s interdisciplinary research project for GLOBES took the form of four essays about genomics, intended as an introduction to the field for people with limited background in science.The first essay discussed what a genome is, and compared it to other large collections of information. The second essay explored why scientists want to study genomes, as well as some of the kinds of information they can glean from such research. The third essay examined the process of assembling a reference genome, including genome characteristics that make assembly difficult. Finally, the fourth essay addressed established as well as new genomics methods, and how those technologies are relevant to human health and well-being.
Quirine ten Bosch, PhD Biological Sciences (Advisor: Alex Perkins) Quirine completed her GLOBES research project by serving as the lead scientist in the development of a dengue branch for the Institute for Disease Modeling. The Institute is part of the Global Good Initiative, a collaboration between the Gates Foundation and Intellectual Ventures. Its flagship modeling software supports disease campaign planning, data gathering, new product development, and policy decisions with an emphasis on enabling global health programs to move beyond disease control to disease eradication. Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne, tropical disease prevalent in the developing world that can inflict extensive morbidity and mortality on unprotected communities. Greg Madey, Department of Computer Science Engineering, served as Quirine's interdisciplinary advisor saying in an endorsement letter to the Executive Committee, "This work by Quirine required a deep understanding of Dengue transmission dynamics and computer science skills (e.g., programming in C++, Microsoft’s Visual Studio, etc.) required to modify, adapt, and extend the EMOD computational tool. Of special interest, for future work, Quirine’s work can be easily applied to Zika transmission."
Rachel Hesselink Gentile, PhD Biological Sciences (Advisor Jason McLachlan) Rachel's experience as a Knauss Marine Policy Fellow in Washington DC, working at the intersection of science and policy for Congressman Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), fulfilled the GLOBES interdisciplinary project requirement. During the Knauss fellowship, she directed the activities of the bi-partisan Safe Climate Caucus and worked on a range of marine and coastal science policy issues. Rachel has accepted a position as senior legislative aide to Congressman Lowenthal and continues the work of the Safe Climate Caucus while assuming duties involving legislation, amendments, Congressional letters, and briefings. "One of the major things I've come to understand is that if, as a scientist, I want my work to make a difference in the decision-making process, I will need to go beyond simply publishing a paper in order to disseminate the findings," said Rachel.
Cameron Turner, a PhD graduate in Biological Sciences under faculty advisor David Lodge, focused on science innovation and entrepreneurship. Cameron developed a business plan for a start-up genetic monitoring business under the mentorship of accomplished scientist and pharmaceutical executive Michael Flavin PhD, who teaches a scientific entrepreneurship course for the College of Science.
Courtney Wiersema, a PhD graduate in History under faculty advisor Jon Coleman, wove interdisciplinary methods in cultural geography, anthropology, and material culture studies into her dissertation on urban environmental history in nineteenth-century America. In addition, she and GLOBES colleague Craig Kinnear conducted a real world practicum that delved into the history and ecology of Muskegon Lake located off the western shore of Lake Michigan. This study served as an ancillary chapter to Courtney’s dissertation, further exploring the theme of nineteenth-century industrialization and its impact on Midwestern communities and environments. (See GLOBES RWP: Kinnear & Wiersema Report)
George M. Kennedy, PhD Biological Sciences (Advisor Patricia Champion)
George was a participant in the Mendoza College Business on the Frontlines course and contributed to a group project that detailed a multi-year economic sustainability plan for the Touching Tiny Lives Foundation in Lesotho, Africa. The foundation supports children and families in rural Lesotho who are struggling to cope with the ravages of HIV/AIDS. Lesotho has the fourth highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in the world.
Alexander J. Reisinger, PhD Biological Sciences (Advisor Jennifer Tank)
Prof. Alan Hamlet of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences served as interdisciplinary advisor to AJ’s research on the impact of dam management on nutrient uptake in rivers. AJ will be working with hydrologists and sociologists in his post-doctoral position with the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies studying the efficacy of urban stream restorations in Baltimore, MD.
Lindsey Sargent Reisinger, PhD Biological Sciences (Advisor David Lodge)
Lindsey was advised by senior staff scientist Tammy Newcomb PhD, of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, in her study and survey of angler behavior in regard to the use of invasive crayfish in the bait trade, and its implications for management and conservation policy.
Gilbert Saint Jean, PhD Biological Sciences (Advisor Jeffrey Feder)
Gilbert continues research that informs public health management of lymphatic filariasis with the University of Notre Dame Haiti Program as a Post-Doctoral Research Associate and Salt Project Senior Marketing Liaison. Gilbert is also the principal investigator for a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Grand Challenges Exploration Round 14 award for a community-based intervention program that targets Haitian emigrants to the U.S and treatment of lymphatic filariasis.