Postdocs teach, mentor as part of new partnership

by John Keenan, UNMC public relations | April 24, 2015

Image with caption: Metropolitan Community College student Russell Kottwitz, left, works with Matt Northam, Ph.D., at one of UNMC's labs in the Durham Research Center.

Metropolitan Community College student Russell Kottwitz, left, works with Matt Northam, Ph.D., at one of UNMC's labs in the Durham Research Center.

UNMC and Metropolitan Community College have entered into a new partnership.

UNMC's post doctoral education office and MCC's department of mathematics and natural science will work together to provide teaching opportunities for UNMC post-docs and mentorship opportunities for MCC students.

The partnership grew out of a seminar series on professional opportunities for postdocs, said Iqbal Ahmad, Ph.D., associate dean and director of postdoctoral education. One seminar on careers away from the bench was about teaching, and among the speakers were educators from MCC.

"I thought, 'Wouldn't it be nice if our postdocs can get an opportunity to teach, so they have the experience and they know what they're getting into," Dr. Ahmad said. "At the same time, they can put it on their resume, and that experience in teaching will make them much more marketable."

MCC was a good fit, he said, because it has many classes on the weekend and in the evenings, so postdocs would find it easier to fit into their bench work schedules. The idea was enthusiastically supported by Dele Davies, M.D., vice chancellor for academic affairs.

Dr. Ahmad reached out to Todd Templeton, a professor of biology, who saw advantages for MCC as well.

In addition, the UNMC postdocs will work with selected MCC students for month-long stints assisting in research at UNMC -- a sort of "mini mentorship" that will allow MCC students to have a research experience.

"Community colleges are really not designed for research," Templeton said. "This seemed like a perfect moment. We could get students not only doing research but in a premiere, state-of-the-art world-class facility."

Michael Flesch, dean of mathematics and natural sciences of MCC, said he was pleased by the synergy of the project.

"For us it is a way to give a highly qualified postdoc a great experience working in a community college setting with our students. Some of the postdocs may want to pursue employment with us after this initial training.

"I am also excited about the fact that we get to send a couple of our talented students over to the med center to work with the postdocs. That's providing a research opportunity to our students that may help shape where they want to go in their career."

Dr. Davies said, "The UNMC-MCC partnership is one of several steps that academic affairs is supporting to attract the best and brightest postdoctoral scholars to UNMC to take our biomedical research enterprise to the next level."

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michelle becker
April 24, 2015 at 10:37 AM

Yay Matt! You'd make a great Teacher!