A new biology program is coming to CU.
Interdisciplinary quantitative biology is a new Ph.D. certificate program that will combine eight already existing degree programs.
The new program will work in conjunction with the Colorado Initiative in Molecular Biotechnology, according to its website.
After exploring each discipline for one year, a student will pick a specialty in which to earn a Ph.D. These disciplines include interdisciplinary education, quantitative biology, mathematical biology, bioengineering, biophysics, computational bioscience and bioinformatics.
According to the IQ biology website, the program has “connected a diverse network of researchers and educational opportunities within quantitative biology so that you can immediately focus on your interdisciplinary studies and innovative research.”
The certificate program, set to start enrolling for fall semester of 2011, aims to use the advantage of interdisciplinary learning to create scientists that are better adjusted to dealing with the problems facing the world today, according to a CIMB news release.
Jana Watson-Capps, Ph.D., the assistant director for interdisciplinary education at CIMB, said the program will allow graduate students to come into the program, explore and then choose their desired track.
“What is different about IQ biology is the idea that it allows students to approach bioscience from multiple angles,” Watson-Capps said. “As the problems facing scientists become more complex, scientists need to know how to reach out and who to collaborate with.”
Jessica Elliott, a 22-year-old speech, language and hearing sciences senior, said she thinks the program will be beneficial.
“I think that it is a good idea because although focusing and knowing your own field is important,” Elliott said. “Without cross understanding, advances cannot always be made as effectively as they could by people who understand more of science overall.”
Elliot said she believed the program would allow for multiple perspectives for the Ph.D. students.
“I think the program will help to make more well rounded scientists who can problem solve from a variety of standpoints, understanding issues in new ways,” Elliot said.
Katie Southard, a research assistant in the MCD biology department and a recent CU graduate in biochemistry and molecular, cellular and developmental biology, said that while the program sounds promising, knowing one’s own field intricately is essential when researching.
“Having scientists who can work in multiple areas of science is a great idea,” Southard said. “But thoroughly knowing your own field and then collaborating with others who know their own fields just as well is often times the way that new advances [in science] are made.”
Watson-Capps said IQ biology’s short-term goals are based on students and bringing them together.
“We intentionally want to start small and fine tune but our short-term goals are student focused,” Watson-Capps said. “We want to bring together students, ones that identify as interdisciplinary scientists.”
Watson-Capps said another goal of the program is to eventually act as a model of how to run an interdisciplinary science program.
“There is a national pull toward interdisciplinary science education and we hope to serve as an example of a successful interdisciplinary bioscience program,” she said.
Breanna Pritchard, a 21-year-old MCD biology senior, said she thinks the program will greatly benefit students.
“Science demands a lot of out-of-the-box reasoning, what better way to stimulate that than to encourage studying different disciplines,” Pritchard said. “I think sometimes we, as scientists, suffer from a sort-of tunnel vision because we are so familiar with our own disciplines, and we tend to stick to what we know.”
Pritchard said she thinks the program could provide skills to help its participants solve problems in many different ways.
“This program should really open some doors and help students and future scientists figure out how to tackle problems from all different angles,” she said.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Alex Lemley at Alexandria.firstname.lastname@example.org.