Adam Hott, Ed.D., is the Expanding Solutions Expert and Digital Applications Lead for Educational Outreach. We invite you to get to know Hott, who has made his mark as a spirited member of HudsonAlpha’s dynamic education team.
Q: What led you to HudsonAlpha, specifically Educational Outreach?
I first met Dr. Lamb when I was a graduate student. At the time, he was at Emory University and I was running the first annual undergraduate genetics education workshop for the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG). Neil and I shared a similar passion for genetics education and became fast friends.
When Neil started at HudsonAlpha, he realized he would need a core group of individuals with skill sets that complemented his own. He recruited me from a faculty position at a small state college in Connecticut. I came to HudsonAlpha because of the people I met during my interview, the vision of Jim Hudson and the exciting potential of being a part of something really special.
Q: What do you find most gratifying in your work?
There are two aspects to my work that I find most gratifying. The first is the project planning and management I am able to bring to our team. I am very proud to be a part of initiating large projects in the department and seeing them through to implementation. I am most proud of the BioTrain program that gains in popularity each year. The second aspect of my job that I find most gratifying is the impact we have on a wide variety of individuals, from elementary students to lifelong learners. When I hear individuals in a restaurant or in the grocery store talking about BioTrain or the Biotech 101 public education series, it makes me smile. I know that our community appreciates all of our efforts and has learned to expect high quality programs from us.
Q: What has proven to be most effective from an educational outreach standpoint?
It is impossible to pinpoint one or two things that are most effective. The reason we have so many different programs and projects is because we understand and embrace the fact that different groups of people are best reached by different means. I think the community at large benefits greatly from Biotech 101 and 201, but our motivated high school and college age students benefit most from a BioTrain experience. While students in the 7-12 grade school system will benefit from our in-class activities, their teachers from across the state benefit most from our GTAC summer teacher academy. If I were to pick one thing that has proven most effective, it is our team commitment to reach different populations where they are.
Q: What’s your educational background? And what were you doing before you came here?
I grew up in a small Illinois town where the science and math courses offered in high school were limited. I took every course in math and science that were offered (five of each). I left that small town to attend Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana for my Bachelor of Science degree. I graduated from Ball State University with honors and began a master’s degree program at the University of Cincinnati in Ohio. I left the University of Cincinnati and began a doctoral program back at Ball State. They offered a doctorate of education in science that was very attractive. I graduated from Ball State University with my Ed.D. and moved east to Connecticut where I took a tenure track faculty position at Southern Connecticut State University. I was appointed the life science secondary education coordinator and assistant professor of biology. I spent two years teaching biology at Southern before I was hired at HudsonAlpha.
Q: What sparked your passion for science?
I have always had a natural curiosity for science. I loved to play with the crawfish in the stream behind our house when I was seven and played outside exploring the woods and fields often. My passion for genetics began after reading a story that was written in the Weekly Reader magazine that was distributed to our elementary school. I was in fifth grade and the article was about scientists that had put the gene from a firefly that makes it glow into a tobacco plant. The result was a tobacco plant that would glow yellow. I thought this was one of the most fascinating things I had ever read and was determined that I had to be a scientist in that area.
I found my true calling in education the first time I taught a course during my masters program. I knew there was something magical about teaching. I combined my love for genetics as a science and my passion for education into my career path and I could not be happier with my choice.
Q: What do you like best about working at HudsonAlpha?
By far the best part of working at HudsonAlpha is the people. The
Educational Outreach team is a special group of individuals that all share a passion for genetics education. In addition to my immediate co-workers, I am surrounded by some of the brightest minds in the world of genetics and genomics research. I am humbled to be a part of that group and consider myself incredibly fortunate to be here.
Q: Tell us something about you most people would be surprised to know.
I am somewhat of a thrill seeker. While I was an undergraduate, I went skydiving (twice in the same day). I have been caving multiple times. If you are not familiar with caving, it is like spelunking, but we do not use any cables and generally go in caves that are not open to the public. I have had two very scary experiences in caves that I somehow escaped without harm, but I kept going back. I hope to be able to hang glide and parasail in the near future, but my commitment to my young family is my first priority at the moment.