Earlier this year, Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry Andy Berglund joined the UO Graduate School as interim associate dean. The recent news that Berglund’s colleague Sandra Morgen will be stepping down as associate dean of the graduate school and vice provost for graduate studies and returning to faculty, assures that Berglund will be serving the Graduate School at a critical juncture.
Berglund joined the UO in 2002 and has actively supported graduate education as a member of the Department of Chemistry’s Graduate Recruiting Committee (chair since 2010), as an instructor of graduate courses and running a robust research lab with many graduate students over the years.. He recently co-led the development of a new track in the biology master’s program for bioinformatics, which combines coursework at the UO with internships in industry, academics and government. Berglund is a recipient of the prestigious Burroughs Welcome Fellowship from the Life Sciences Research Foundation and a March of Dimes Basil O’Connor Scholar. He and his research group have been funded by the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, Muscular Dystrophy Association, American Heart Association and Myotonic Dystrophy Foundation.
We caught up with Berglund recently and spoke to him about research, graduate education, professional development and other subjects.
QUESTION: What are some of your priorities for your new role as interim associate dean?
The Graduate School has some wonderful programs and I see my role as building and expanding these programs and bringing a new perspective. Two areas that I am particularly excited about are professional development for our graduate students as well as maintaining and growing our diverse student population.
Q: You are actively involved in planning the upcoming Graduate Research Forum on March 7. What excites you about this year’s event?
A: We have added professional development prizes for the poster session during the Graduate School Forum. These prizes (up to $1000) are great for our students because they will help enable the students to attend national and international conferences or workshops that will provide opportunities to present their scholarly activities and network with professionals in their fields. We are bringing in local companies and many outside community members to act as judges for the prizes and provide networking opportunities for our students. Winning these prestigious university wide awards are great ways for our students to strengthen their resumes.
Q: What other types of things is the UO doing for graduate students in terms of professional development?
A: We have begun a new seminar series sponsored by the office for Research, Innovation and Graduate Education (RIGE) office that brings in non-academic scientists to tell us about the research happening in the industry and national lab sectors. For example, this past December, Dr. Tim Behrens from Genentech gave a seminar entitled “Personalizing Medicine for Autoimmune and Inflammatory Diseases.” Graduate students and Postdoctoral fellows in the sciences had an opportunity to have lunch with Dr. Behrens and network with him during a reception specifically for students. The next speaker in the series is Rasmus Nielsen, who will be presenting a talk on Wednesday, March 5 on “Human Genomics: A Window into our Evolutionary Past.” The time and location have yet to be announced.
Q: What’s unique about the UO graduate student experience? What does the university have to offer?
A: The University of Oregon is wonderful for graduate education because it has all the tools and technologies that come with being a tier 1 research university, but manages to offer a more personalized experience for its graduate students. The graduate students are the users who do much of the innovative research with the cutting edge technology that is available on our campus. For example, many students use equipment in CAMCOR (Oregon’s High-Tech Extension Service center) to analyze micro and nanoscale materials that they have created in the laboratory.
Q: Where do you see graduate education going in the next five years?
A: I believe many students will become more strategic as they pursue degrees in higher education. Programs will develop and expand professional development opportunities for their students. I think a focus will be on positions outside of the academy.
Q: What are some of the student success stories that you’ve seen?
A: I have been fortunate to work with several graduate students who have been very successful. For example, Bryan Warf published five papers (four first author) and was awarded two fellowships as well as winning an award for best presentation at an international meeting. Bryan is currently a scientist at Myriad Genetics Laboratory in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Q: Your focus in your new role is graduate education, but what are some of the opportunities that are open to undergraduates at the UO?
A: Undergraduate students have wonderful opportunities to get involved in cutting edge research in which they get to work closely with graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and faculty. I have had many undergraduate students make significant contributions to research in my group that has lead to authorship on publications for these students. Many of my students have gone on to graduate schools and medical schools such as MIT, Johns Hopkins, Georgetown, University of Washington and OHSU.