The UMBC Chemistry/Biology Interface (CBI) program is an NIH supported program designed for those graduate students interested in pursuing cross-disciplinary training in the chemical and biological sciences. The program will prepare the students for the challenges of the 21st century, where those who possess multi-disciplinary training will have significant advantages. As more and more scientists pursue boundary-crossing lines of investigation, those researchers possessing multi-disciplinary skills will be increasingly in high demand. CBI students obtain their Ph.D. degree in chemistry, biology, biochemistry, molecular biology or chemical and biological engineering, but with an additional focus in one of the other disciplines. Each course of study is individually tailored to take into account the students’ strengths and interests, but all include coursework at an advanced level in both the biological sciences, chemistry and biochemistry. Highlights of the program include:
- Once a student has chosen a mentor, the mentor works closely with a participating faculty member in one of the other departments to carefully design a training opportunity for the student that relates directly to their dissertation research. This training can be as short as 6-8 weeks or ideally, develop into an ongoing, long-term collaboration that extends throughout the student’s Ph.D. project.
Students attend weekly meetings of the CBI participants at which issues at the interface are discussed. In addition, career related subjects such as how to balance family and career, how to choose a postdoctoral position, differences between careers in academia, industry and government, as well as how to be successful in graduate school, are among some of the topics discussed. Students also learn how to give effective presentations, both on their own research, as well as on literature topics.
Each year the CBI students invite a select group of renowned guest lecturers who are conducting research at the interface of the various disciplines. In addition to attending the speaker’s seminar, the students enjoy a full day of discussions and interactions with the speakers, with no faculty present.
CBI students are required to present their research at two national or international meetings each year. In addition, the CBI students also typically present their research at meetings in the metro area, such as UMBC’s annual “A Look Ahead” symposium, UMBC’s Graduate Research Conference, UMD-Baltimore’s Graduate Research Conference and the joint CBI conference sponsored by UMBC, UMD-Baltimore, UMD-College Park, Johns Hopkins and the University of Delaware.