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Forging a Georgetown Scientist
March 8, 2011
As a liberal arts institution, Georgetown College has long been committed to fostering innovative scientific inquiry among its students, faculty, and graduates. In recent years, the College’s traditional departments have created unique interdisciplinary programs to address today’s issues—from environmental studies to global health—and new departments have been added to engage students in emerging fields, from cognitive science to computer security.
In keeping with the evolution of the disciplines, in 2012 Georgetown will inaugurate its new Science Center, a state-of-the-art facility designed to encourage collaboration between departments including Physics, Chemistry, and Biology, as well as between students and faculty. The 150,000 square foot center, which boasts an LEED certified “green” design, will provide cutting-edge laboratory space and house key programs including the Institute for Soft Matter Synthesis and Metrology.
As construction continues on the new facility, Forging a Georgetown Scientist explores how the university’s academic strength, liberal arts focus, and commitment to social justice intersect to create unique and valuable members of the scientific and global community. “Students leaving Georgetown with a degree in any of our sciences go off to have great careers in science, medicine, law, policy,” Associate Dean Ali Whitmer explained. “I think students want to take the knowledge that they gain here and make an impact” on the global stage.
Supporting the new science facility are existing programs that push students to consider their studies in a practical context, to write about and discuss their research interests, and to explore how their work can improve communities and solve real-life problems. Through opportunities as diverse as the major in Biology of Global Health, the Program on Science in the Public Interest, and courses like “Shaping National Science Policy,” students can gain firsthand experience translating their science education into public action. Similarly, outreach efforts and community service enrich the studies of local high school students and allow Hoyas to take their work beyond the Georgetown campus. This ability to discuss and teach their research, Professor Clay Shields remarked, is “one of the things that makes our students so sought after” by employers and research institutions. This integration of academic rigor and social consciousness will continue as Georgetown expands its research capabilities and continues to produce students who become leaders in science policy, education, and research.
Forging a Georgetown Scientist features faculty from across the College’s scientific disciplines, including Maria Donoghue​, Associate Professor of Biology, Heidi Elmendorf, Associate Professor of Biology, Micah Sherr, Assistant Professor of Computer Science, Clay Shields, Associate Professor of Computer Science, and Ali Whitmer, Associate Dean for Faculty Development and Strategic Planning. It was created by Lead College Videographer Kuna Malik Hamad.
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