Do you remember how you became interested in your favorite subject at school? Chances are, it was because of an enthusiastic teacher who presented the lessons in a compelling and memorable way. In the Syracuse area, high school teachers of…
BioInspired and Ichor Therapeutics Partner for Project Management Training
The BioInspired Institute does cutting-edge work in complex biological and material systems, but from its inception, leadership and faculty were committed to providing students and postdoctoral fellows with more than just technical training.
“As faculty, we know that we educate skilled scientists and engineers,” says BioInspired Director Lisa Manning, Kenan Professor of Physics in the College of Arts and Sciences.
“But what helps them stand out in the job market are a set of softer skills. To be polished, well-rounded scientists and engineers, there are things that aren’t taught in many programs.”
That’s why the BioInspired Institute recently partnered with Ichor Life Sciences, Inc. to offer project management training. Ichor Life Sciences is a local biotechnology company that studies the fundamental mechanisms of aging to develop therapies to help people live longer and healthier lives. It’s the kind of company that Syracuse graduates interested in working in the biotechnology industry might aspire to join after they complete their degrees.
BioInspired’s director of operations, Jeremy Steinbacher, says that project management is at the center of what experienced research scientists do—but they often don’t recognize it. Steinbacher should know, as he earned a Ph.D. in chemistry and chemical biology at Cornell University. He has worked as a faculty member with the U.S. Department of Defense and consulted for industry in his area of expertise.
“Partnering with Ichor Life Sciences to offer project management training is hugely beneficial to students and postdoctoral fellows. They bring a real-world focus to the key highlights of project management that really speak to our students’ training here at Syracuse University,” he says.
Kelsey Moody, the company’s chief executive officer agrees. He says, “It was our privilege to take part in the project management workshop series with Syracuse University’s BioInspired Institute and support its mission to provide real world training to students and faculty in the life sciences.”
Project management is just one of the five professional development tracks that the BioInspired Institute offers, but Amanda Campbell, who is completing her Ph.D. in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, says it attracted her attention because, “I know how crucial the skill set is and how valuable it is to future employers, especially in the private sector. I want to become more proficient in the lingo and tools used in project management.”
Campbell’s Ph.D. research focuses on naturally dissolved methane in groundwater, which can change over time and make it difficult to assess impacts of natural gas production. She found that some well water changes significantly and one sample is not necessarily representative of overall conditions, implying that water wells should be tested on at least three different occasions to be able to identify those that naturally change. She has also developed a model that can predict which domestic water wells are likely to have naturally high methane concentrations based on water chemistry. The work has implications for the oil and gas industry, and she appreciates the applied aspect of it. She says her career aspiration is, “to solve problems, whether that is in private industry, through consulting or in the government sector.” She learned that project management tools don’t just help solve problems more efficiently but can also help scientists sell trust in their expertise. “Stakeholders don’t need to be as informed as you are, but they do need to know that you understand their problem and can solve it for them.”
“These are skills that many scientists and engineers learn on the job,” says Jay Henderson, associate director of BioInspired and associate professor of biomedical and chemical engineering. “In deciding how BioInspired could really add value for our students and postdoctoral trainees, our faculty identified skills like project management, research communication and scholarly publishing as key assets that can help Syracuse-trained scientists and engineers stand out in the job market. You can have the best technical skills and still struggle to succeed without the ability to gain trust, organize big projects and communicate about your research.”