Women in Science series includes St. Andrews University
For many years, GlaxoSmithKline has been working 29 colleges and universities in North Carolina through the Women in Science scholarship and mentoring program.
"Each year, two outstanding science students receive a scholarship and are paired with a woman working at Glaxo," said Dr. Bonnie Draper, assistant professor of biology at St. Andrews University and on-campus director of the Women Scholars in Science program. "The mentors represent a link to science in the real world; exposing the students to different career paths they may have considered and building potential contact for employment. Some WIS scholars have even completed internships with their mentors or other Glaxo contacts."
Dr. John Knesel, associate professor of biology, headed up the selection of the two St. Andrews students participating this year.
"We are pleased to continue our long association with the GSK Women in Science series with our scholars Christine Harrelson and Michelle Hustad," said Knesel. "We look forward to a productive relationship between these students and the mentors as the year unfolds."
Harrelson didn't know she was even a nominee for the program until she received the formal invitation.
"I was amazed I got into the program and really honored to get it," Harrelson said. "You only get two people per school and schools have to be invited to join."
The first event of the year is a Fall Forum that took place in October.
"The theme of the fall meeting was to emphasize the many different career paths for women in science," Draper said. "Several well-established Glaxo scientists and a few student scholars shared their experiences about how they became interested in their fields, how they got started and what choices they had to make along the way. Several of the speakers also touched on challenges such as the impact of a demanding research schedule on family life."
Hustad found the student scholar presentations of particular interest. "One of the students is working for an organization like Doctors without Borders but in safer areas. I am looking into that for the summer."
Hustad's mentor has also been of significant assistance with her career plans, providing Hustad with a physician's assistant to talk about the field she hopes to be a part of following graduation.
Harrelson also saw some early benefits with her mentor at the fall forum. "My big question is whether to go to vet school or med school," she said. "My mentor has a Ph.D. in Chemistry and done lots of research based work. I didn't know what they do.
"I will work with my mentor," Harrelson continued. "We meet again in March and get to work one on one. I am so focused on what I need to do. I definitely have someone to go to for career advice."
Draper was also pleased with what she witnessed at the event.
"I saw that it was gratifying for all the students to listen to accomplished scientists tell stories about how they switched majors several times, took unfulfilling jobs, or were just generally lost about what they wanted to do in life," Draper said. "The students saw that it is okay to not have everything figured out yet, but to pursue excellence in what they do and explore what interests them."
In addition to the benefits to the students, there are benefits for Draper and St. Andrews as well.
"For faculty and professional women scientists, participation in the WIS program allows us to connect with other researchers, sharing ideas and even resources," Draper said. "Lisa Ross, a virologist at Glaxo and Michelle Hustad's mentor, gave a lot of surplus lab supplies to St. Andrews when she moved her lab to a new building. My background is also in virology and I plan to use many of these items which, if purchased new, would've cost about $25,000."
The relationship forged by this program is one Draper hopes to help cultivate.
"I'd like to have our student become more active in communicating with their mentors and possibly spend some time in their labs to see a typical day in research science," she said. "Even if a student has already decided that research is not for her, building bridges with different scientist will help her in any career path."
About St. Andrews University
St. Andrews is a student and teaching-focused University which offers a broad range of undergraduate majors in a curriculum that is global in scope and practical in its application. St. Andrews has added a first graduate level program with a Masters in Business Administration. The quality of the St. Andrews educational experience has been recognized by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and GI Jobs among others. In addition to its academic programs, the University has an acclaimed university press, men’s and women’s athletic teams, a nationally competitive equestrian program, and an award-winning pipe band. St. Andrews is a branch of Webber International University, Florida. Further information may be obtained by visiting the University’s website www.sapc.edu, calling 800-763-0198, or sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.