Every Friday since the fall 2011 semester, faculty and students gather in Lee Med 107 for a presentation given by a visiting scientist as part of the Faculty Seminar Series that the department comes together to provide.
Lisa Moore, assistant professor at the Sanford School of Medicine at the University of South Dakota, organizes a calendar a semester in advance and then opens it up to faculty and graduate students to decide who they want to visit for a specific week.
Among reasons such as networking and enriching the scholarly environment, Moore said the exposure to other kinds of science and ideas are just a few aspects on the list of opportunities the seminar series supplies to those involved.
“We constantly want to be thinking about new things and challenging the way we approach our research day-to-day,” Moore said. “So bringing in outside speakers who automatically look at things differently sometimes will spark a new idea and a new way to approach things.”
Each Friday’s guest speaker spends the day meeting with faculty and students in addition to the presentation given at noon, Moore said. Additionally, she said the host of the speaker, or the person who brought them to USD, is in charge of lining up the guest’s schedule.
Along with receiving a fresh perspective, Moore said the seminars present an opportunity to show what the medical school has to offer scientifically.
“Typically when you think of a place like USD, you think it’s small,” Moore said. “That can have a connotation that goes along with it: ‘Well it’s small, what can they really do there,’ but when people come here and realize that we have beautiful facilities, the research labs are really innovative and top notch, they fundamentally get it that we are able to do really high impact, high-quality research.”
Geared toward students, Moore said the diverse speakers are highly specific and offer a lot of opportunity.
“For our students, it’s fantastic because they can look at someone and say ‘OK, this is what they’ve done with their career,’” Moore said.
Josh Klonoski, who is finishing the PhD portion of his training at USD, served as the secretary for the Graduate Student Organization in 2012-2013. In his position, one of Klonoski’s roles was to invite guest lecturers for the weekly seminars.
The organization is hosting this week’s visiting speaker, Dr. Thomas Hiltke from National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID).
“Dr. Thomas Hiltke is a program officer (PO) in the sexually-transmitted disease branch at NIAID,” Klinoski said. “A PO is an advocate for principal investigators, professors running labs and research. Their job is to make new investigators aware of the challenges of a career in science and to help them develop career building skills by providing maximum access to the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) staff resources.”
Klinoski said another part of Hiltke’s role as a PO is to aid in the process of grant submissions, feedback during the review process and scientific priorities of the NIH.
“As graduate students, the majority of us are not writing official grants yet, though we will have to master this skill in order to be successful in science,” Klinoski said.
During a scheduled lunch following his presentation, Hiltke will meet with graduate students for a question and answer session.
Trever Serr, a junior majoring in contemporary media and journalism, said having guest lecturers, such as the faculty seminar series, is beneficial.
“I really like how they bring in people that know what they are talking about and can answer questions that students have that are bigger than just the classroom work,” Serr said. “It gives students the opportunities to see what they can potentially do with their degree and also gives them something to relate to other than homework.”
Val Hoeppner, a media consultant, visited the department in February to give presentations to students and faculty about digital media. As a newly declared CMJ major, Hoeppner’s visit was the first media professional presentation Serr experienced.
“I think it was really helpful, and hopefully they will keep bringing people in that know what the professional world is like and give us a preview on what we can do,” Serr said.
In relation to guest speakers similar to Hoeppner, Serr believed the department could do better similarly to the weekly medical seminars and bring outside professionals in more often.
“I don’t know very many people in my profession, so that’s a pro to have people come talk to us,” Serr said.