MCB Alumni Q & A
Aime Levesque, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Genetrics
University of Hartford
Did you end up at the job you envisioned yourself at when you graduated from the MCB program?
This is exactly what I had planned to do when I entered graduate school originally. I always wanted to teach undergraduates and run a small research program involving undergraduates. However, when I graduated, I was considering a career in pharmaceutical research. I did a 3 year post-doc in pharmacology and toxicology and ended up deciding I couldn't stand doing straight research for the rest of my life.
What parts of your MCB education, besides the science, did you feel was most important?
Considering that I am teaching undergraduates now, I guess the most important was the TA'ship I did in my second year, teaching genetics lab. From that experience, I learned the value of using C. elegans as a model organism for teaching in a genetics lab and have implemented an experiment involving C elegans here. However, spending one semester as a graduate TA really did nothing to prepare me for full time teaching, particularly lecture teaching. I suppose in a way, journal clubs and RIPs prepared me for public speaking, but there is a big difference between giving a presentation and teaching.
Do you have any words of wisdom for current students to help them fulfill their career goals?
Spend some time researching different careers and if possible, find ways to get experience or exposure in that field. If you are interested in teaching, try to find some real teaching experiencing by teaching a lecture section of a class. I realize this is difficult to do at Dartmouth, but look into teaching as an adjunct at Colby Sawyer College or another nearby school if your thesis advisor will allow it. If any students are interested in learning what it is like to teach at the undergraduate level, I'd be happy to talk to them.
Is there anything about the program you would like to see changed or modified?
There should be a program for students interested in teaching at the undergraduate level. Something where you learn about teaching pedagogies,lecture prep, syllabus planning, etc. Maybe even something where you get to do at least a few lectures in an undergraduate class. Nothing takes the place of real teaching experience, but anything that gives you a head start would be nice.