Pittsburgh’s First Community Biotech Lab Selects Inaugural Director
A recent minority graduate of Duquesne's doctoral program in biological sciences has been selected as the director of Pittsburgh's first community biotechnology lab, a grant-funded collaboration expected to be launched by Duquesne University and Urban Innovation21.
Dr. Andre Samuel, who initiated the diversity-based S.I.G.M.A. Science Mentorship Initiative in 2010 at the University and has continued to reach out to diverse high school students while a doctoral student, will start in this position on Tuesday, July 1.
"Because of Andre's own path through a doctoral program in the sciences, his involvement with schools and urban youth, and his ability to help encourage students and adults to connect with science, we thought he was extraordinarily prepared for the challenges of this new effort to make science more accessible," said William Generett Jr., president and chief executive officer of Urban Innovation21.
Samuel focused on novel antibacterial targets in E. coli in his doctoral studies and was mentored by Dr. Nancy Trun, associate professor of biological sciences.
"Dr. Samuel brings a unique ability to connect with students and to teach them complex biological concepts in an understandable way," Trun said. "He fosters the students' confidence in their ability to learn and constantly challenges them to excel."
Samuel said he looks forward to working with the community biotech lab, which will broaden access to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. "There is a strong need in our community for a facility that promotes diversity in the sciences," said Samuel, who understands the challenges firsthand. "If we want to increase diversity in STEM careers, we need a place where future scientists of all ages can go for hands-on experimentation and to nurture interest in science and biotechnology. Our community laboratory will provide the resources to meet these needs."
Increasing diversity in STEM jobs encourages the diversity of ideas in the lab and the marketplace, and promotes science as both achievable and rewarding. "The positive outlook for STEM careers over the next 10 years could make these disciplines even more attractive to those who have not been a traditional part of the STEM work force," said Dr. Alan Seadler, associate academic vice president for research and technology.
As a "maker lab"-a part of a growing national movement to encourage innovation, learn by doing and address personal interests as well as societal concerns-the biotech lab represents another University-community partnership with positive impacts on campus and beyond.