As I wrote on Twitter yesterday, I am sending hugs, salutes, and immense respect to Dr. Chris Gunter and her colleagues at HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology in Huntsville, Alabama.
Gunter, a self-described “recovering Nature editor” who serves as Director of Research Affairs at HudsonAlpha, is working with several of her colleagues at the institute to finish teaching an undergraduate neuroscience course that was left without a professor following the UAHuntsville tragedy.
Practical things first: Chris has sent out a call to any educators out there who have syllabi or slides for neuroscience subject material at the undergraduate level or any other resources you might recommend. As she noted yesterday:
“Thanks everyone for encouragement. Can hear my own neurons creaking as colleagues and I struggle to recall & then plan teaching neuro.”
For background, HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology is the non-profit cornerstone of the Cummings Research Park in Huntsville, the second largest research park in the United States. Established with $50 million of support from Gov. Bob Riley and $80 million of private donations, HudsonAlpha is part research institute, part economic development engine, and part biotechnology education and outreach.
You can discover the history of HudsonAlpha here but its primary namesake is Jim Hudson, founder and CEO of Research Genetics, the genomics company that was acquired by Invitrogen/Life Technologies. (I remember using some Research Genetics gene expression array blots before microarray technology became widespread). Together with the Alabama-based Alpha Foundation, Hudson and others established the non-profit with the initial mission to “utilize high-throughput genomic technologies to cultivate advances in personalized medicine.” But similar to institutions in the North Carolina Research Triangle Park area, HudsonAlpha serves academia, business, and the general public to foster biotechnology and retain the best and brightest minds in the state of Alabama.
I am just simply in awe of these folks. Chris and her colleagues were very close with the victims of the shootings and were just last week attending visitations and services. Despite their personal losses and consuming shock felt across the Huntsville community, these scientists and administrators got together last week to plan the mechanics of continuing the academic year at UAHuntsville. HudsonAlpha investigators all hold adjunct faculty appointments at the university and they are stepping up in a big way to support thier colleagues and serve the students.
I know how disrupting it is to a curriculum and faculty to simply lose a course director – I have colleagues covering for me while I’m out with pneumonia and it has been a tremendous effort for them to quickly pick up new lecturing responsibilities on top of those they already have.
However, I lack the full capacity to truly understand what it must take for Gunter and HudsonAlpha investigators to manage their personal pain following an unimaginable tragedy and lead the UAHuntsville students back into the classroom.