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At the undergraduate level, the Department of Biology is responsible for teaching a range of upper level undergraduate courses in genetics and genomics. The Department of Biology undergraduate curriculum is currently being revised with a stronger emphasis on genetics to enhance training for pre-medical and pre-doctoral students. Biology is planning on a Professional Masters in Genomics and some of the hires would participate in that training. In addition, genetics is included as an element in many other undergraduate teaching programs (microbiology, psychology, biochemistry, anthropology, bioengineering, computer science, nursing, pharmacy, mathematics, ethics/law). All include elements of biological or analytical genetics as part of the core coursework. However, we lack depth of expertise in quantitative analytic areas and hires in these areas would be helpful to support the training of undergraduates as well as providing them with career choices that will have job opportunities for them in the future. Since the state of Iowa also includes strong elements of genetics in its agricultural areas and with specific expertise in the area of plant and animal genetics at Iowa State University, this also serves as a statewide retention effort.
Genetics, perhaps only rivaled by brain sciences, is of surpassing interest and its interface with health care, behavior, ethics, law, and social policy place it in a strong position to create undergraduate curricula that will be both engaging and of wide interest. A cadre of new faculty, particularly ones experienced in internet and social applications will be a powerful resource for undergraduate, graduate, professional as well as community education. The cluster hires will be chosen, in part, on their interest and expertise in providing content in a user-friendly format to students of all levels, including to our statewide community.