Guiding students one step at a time–from gateway courses through the capstone experience

  • May 2, 2016
  • Faculty & Staff, Students, Microbiology

Emily Sechrist, a microbiology senior, (left) discusses her poster with Jeannine Scott, MMG professional advisor

Emily Sechrist, a microbiology senior, (left) discusses her poster with Jeannine Scott, MMG professional advisor, during the MMG Undergraduate Research Showcase held recently in the Biomedical Physical Sciences Building.

When students first come to Jeannine Scott’s office for advising, they often think they have to decide what they want to do “for the rest of their lives.”

“I tell them, ‘we’re not really looking at the rest of your life. We’re looking at the next step. That next step will open up opportunities for what the next step after that might be,’” said Scott, who has been a research associate with the MSU Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics since 2003. In 2012, she was appointed as a full time advisor through the College of Natural Science Biology Initiative, which looks at biology education and coordination of courses across departments to streamline education for undergraduates, ensuring they get exposure to the concepts in their gateway courses that prepare them for upper-level coursework.

Scott also works closely with students as they fulfill their department’s capstone requirement. They can choose one of two options—conduct research in a lab or enroll in a Current Topics in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics.

“The overarching goal of both options is to bring together all the knowledge the students have accumulated while completing the courses in their majors, and then present it to their peers their senior year,” Scott said.

“My favorite thing about my work is approaching every student who comes into my office as an open book,” she said. “My goal is that when they leave this office, they are more empowered, more confident, and more focused on why they’re here at MSU, what they want to get out of it, and what they want to do once they’re finished.

“When these students pick an adventure that they think they’ll love, then it’s fun,” she added. “And that’s the way I think discovery and science . . . and life should be.”

For more stories about MSU's Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, visit their 2016 newsletter.