How would you describe your role and organization?
I work as a scientist doing research with organisms that cause disease in plants. Economic crop plants are the focus of the research program, primarily strawberry and sugar beet. We do applied research on improving crop production management as well as basic genomics research, development of molecular diagnostics for quarantine pathogens and remote sensing. The United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service works on a wide range of agricultural production problems. Prior to joining the USDA-ARS I was a professor at the University of Florida for 10 years, so I can also provide some insight of academic positions and what to expect if the students are interested in going to graduate school.
How would the skills and competencies gained through a liberal arts education be beneficial in the type of work you do?
A solid background in biology and molecular biology is important, as is the ability to creatively approach experimental design.
What can a student expect to experience by job shadowing you?
They can see how the things they have learned about in class (PCR, DNA sequencing, working with next generation sequence data) are applied in a basic research program. Will get a first hand exposure to the types of activities normally followed in a research lab. They will also see the importance of the ability to work in a team while working on larger integrated research problems.