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Content and Community

Step 1: Content Mastery and Community Building

The goal of this step is to

  • provide an educational foundation that prepares trainees for interdisciplinary collaboration
  • foster the growth of social networks among trainees as a foundation for research collaborations across disciplines

The details of each trainee's educational plan are custom designed based on individual background, expertise, and interest.  As a general framework, each BIOTRANS trainee will participate one of the following "tracks"

  • Biological Sciences Track (BST)
  • Engineering Sciences Track (EST)

These tracks are intended to aid each trainee in developing a core expertise in either biology (BST) or engineering (EST) while pursuing a Ph.D. in a corresponding home department, and in developing proficiency in the fundamentals of the complementary discipline.

The coursework for each BIOTRANS trainee will include formal instruction in the complementary discipline and is required to have an emphasis on transport phenomena. The details of the coursework requirements depend on individual preparation, expertise, and interests; contact the BIOTRANS Administrative Team for personalized information.

Trainees are required to participate in the Interactive Seminar Series in every semester. Trainees and faculty meet regularly for both informal social interaction and formal seminar-style presentations. As has been observed in other IGEPs (and former IGERTs), social interactions help establish interdisciplinary networks in support of collaborative research efforts and aid trainee retention by building camaraderie. The 'formal' seminar presentations  take a variety of formats, including

  • overviews of BIOTRANS faculty research
  • presentations by trainees of results from their research rotations
  • seminars by experts in the field

We often take advantage of the interdisciplinary seminars offered by various departments around campus.  Some presentations are delivered remotely (and interactively) though the state-of-the-art cyber-learning facilities at Virginia Tech, enabling every BIOTRANS participant to interact with international experts without the costs of personal travel.