Congratulations, Susan Gardner!
Susan Gardner, doctoral student in the Department of Microbiology at NC State, has been named recipient of this year's scholarship award from Women in Bio (WIB)!
As a current graduate student, she has been very interested in networking with professional women. Gardner attended a seminar earlier in the fall semester that was co-sponsored by the Graduate School's Preparing Future Leaders (PFL) Program and the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs. The seminar was presented by Christine Warrington, Research Triangle Park chapter leader, who offered an overview to the WIB organization -- and it was just what Gardner was looking for!
Established in 2001, WIB is an organization of professionals who are committed to promoting careers, leadership, and entrepreneurship of women in the life sciences. The first chapter was located in the Baltimore-Washington-Northern Virginia area. Today, there are chapters in Chicago and Seattle, as well as locally in Research Triangle Park. In addition to conducting their own professional development programs, workshops, and seminars, WIB also promotes the Young Women in Bio Program, as well as a new scholarship program. As this year's scholarship winner, Gardner will receive her award at the WIB holiday party in December.
Gardner is originally from Buffalo, New York, but currently resides in Cary. She earned her B.S. in Music Education from Duquesne University in 1981. In 2005, Gardner started taking undergraduate biology courses at Meredith College. She also took a few courses at NC State. So, why did it take her that long and why did she shift from music to science?
According to Gardner, she'd always been interested in biology, ". . . but when you're 18, you don't always make the best career choices, so I wound up in music school, which was fun, but not ultimately where I wanted to be." She taught elementary music for several years and had four kids. All the while, Gardner entertained the possibility of returning to school to study biology.
Finally, she learned about the 23+ Program at Meredith College -- an undergraduate program for non-traditional students over 23 years old -- and enrolled as a biology major. She says that she ". . . totally fell in love with the bench science behind the coursework, and the possibility of being a research scientist." But she also had an opportunity to become a teaching assistant in the microbiology labs. And she realized how much she also enjoyed teaching! The doors to a new future opened, and Gardner says that she knew that she would have to earn a Ph.D.
As luck would have it, her undergraduate mentor at Meredith had earned his doctorate at NC State. And through her mentor, she took an undergraduate research position with Dr. Jonathan Olson in NC State's Department of Microbiology. Gardner says that it was her enjoyable experience in the Olson lab that was instrumental in her applying to graduate school.
Gardner certainly appreciates the support she's received throughout her ongoing graduate studies. Women in Bio was the networking group she was looking for. But she says that she's also having a wonderful experience at NC State as well -- including support of her fellow graduate students! According to Gardner: "This is hard work, certainly, but it's also a lot of fun hanging out every day with people who feel as passionately as I do about science."
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